OMV Aktiengesellschaft CEO and Chairman Dr Rainer Seele outlines his company’s business strategy. With sales of EUR 23bn and a workforce of over 20,000 employees in 2018, OMV is one of Austria’s largest listed industrial companies.
What are OMV’s plans for operations in the Middle East?
That’s simple: it’s all about applying our integrated business model. This means delivering value added from the well right through to the refinery. And that includes petrochemicals, an area in which we have world-class expertise.
The interest we acquired this year in ADNOC Refining has not only allowed us to expand our downstream business beyond Europe, but also increased our refining capacity by 40 per cent at a single stroke. And we have been fortunate enough to sign MoUs with ADNOC to explore new opportunities for collaboration in the petrochemicals sector and our patented ReOil process.
What does ReOil actually involve?
This innovative process converts plastic waste into high-quality synthetic crude, which can then be used to produce fuel, or as feedstock for petrochemical plants, so we can start the value chain again. A true example of a circular economy. Our MoU looks at assessing the feasibility of a scalable ReOil plant in the UAE.
Is UAE your regional priority for developing projects?
At present OMV is also active in Yemen, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Tunisia and Libya. We have a long history of partnerships in MEA. But yes, one could say Abu Dhabi is our home from home. Mubadala is OMV’s second largest shareholder and has held 24.9 per cent of OMV Aktiengesellschaft shares since 1994. We are joint owners of leading pet-chem provider Borealis, going back 20 years. And Abu Dhabi is the main hub for all OMV activities in MEA, with a representative office here since 2007.
Fast-forward to 2019 and OMV has a strong integrated position in Abu Dhabi along the value chain, ranging from upstream production to refining and trading including petrochemicals. This is the first time OMV has expanded its fully integrated business model beyond Europe.
What do you see as the long-term impact on OMV following the agreements with ADNOC?
Our presence in Abu Dhabi is a key component of OMV’s Strategy 2025 as it will allow us to move closer to the attractive growth markets in Asia-Pacific.
Naturally, that’s not the only impact. The recent acquisitions in SARB, Umm Lulu and Ghasha are critical to our long-term reserves as we expect to produce from these licenses for 40 years. The downstream interests will also be key contributors to OMV for decades to come. Looking at the bigger picture, our extensive expertise in upstream-downstream-petrochemical integration is at the heart of our sustainable success.
Is the industry equipped to respond successfully to the challenges of the future?
In addition to the financial challenges, our industry must get to grips with digitisation and increase its investment here so that expensive development projects can be realised in a way that actually makes sense in economic terms. Basically, we need to get ready for a low oil-price environment and that’s why our sector should invest in new technologies and capture the potential of digitisation to gain cost leadership. Then you’re the last man standing.
And how is digitalisation transforming the energy industry?
Every industry needs to drive digitisation in order to succeed in the future. Maybe Industry 4.0 and IIoT started out as buzzwords, but they are already game-changers in terms of efficiency and competitiveness.
Digitisation has actually been around for decades at OMV, originating from automation. The difference now is that we have centralised our initiatives. In upstream alone we have 90 projects underway worldwide – from the Drilling Cockpit that already today allows experts in Vienna to give instant feedback to any rig in the world, right through to work on a Drilling Robot that could facilitate a fully automated rig. And downstream has already seen impressive results by applying algotrading, platform solutions and data analytics.
In fact, it is OMV’s commitment to innovation and new technologies that makes us such an attractive partner. Even before the digitisation era, our technologies have been proven to continuously improve product quality and service standards, minimise costs, create new business opportunities and lower emissions. We do this by investing in research and development and fostering strategic partnerships with universities, research institutions and selected industrial partners worldwide.
This interview first appeared in the ADIPEC Show Dailies 2019