Austrian oil and gas company OMV has slashed its 2014 production target, saying the security situation in Libya is hard to predict.
OMV, which holds a substantial portfolio of UK licences, mostly focused on the west of Shetland area but also in the central North Sea, has had no production from Libya since mid-March.
New results from the firm show underlying operating profits for the three months to March 31 slumped by 21% to £549million, down from £698million a year earlier as the firm took a hit from higher production and depreciation costs in Norway and Romania.
OMV said this was in line with expectations but it cut its output forecast for the year to 310,000-330,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day, down from its previous target of 320,000-340,000.
The lower end of the target represents no production at all for the rest of the year in Libya, which accounted for 10% of OMV’s output before the 2011 uprising there.
In its results statement, OMV said: “The security situation in Libya and Yemen remains very difficult to predict.
“Whilst production in Yemen has been interrupted only for a few days in 2014, Libyan production was affected throughout the quarter.”
The group’s total oil and gas output increased to 311,000 boe per day.
Chief executive Gerhard Roiss said: “Our improved operational performance together with the first full contribution from the Gullfaks asset in Norway enabled us to substantially increase our production.
“We took several steps to further strengthen our upstream portfolio. We finalised the 3D seismic survey in the Bulgarian Black Sea and enlarged our position in the UK by acquiring four licenses from Hess in the west of Shetland area, including an increased share in the Cambo field and the Blackrock prospect.”
OMV entered the UK North Sea in 1987 and has been active as an operator in the area since 2004.
As well as its exploration licences, OMV UK also has interests in five major projects at various stages of appraisal and development.
Last August, the biggest acquisition in its history saw the group take over UK North Sea assets from Norwegian oil major Statoil.
The £1.7billion deal substantially raised OMV’s stakes in the Rosebank and Schiehallion fields, to 50% and 11.76% respectively.