September 28, 2017 / 12:32 PM / a year ago

Austria's OMV considers bigger focus on its gas business

FUSCHL AM SEE, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Austrian energy group OMV may focus more on its gas business to benefit from an expected increase in demand, its strategy chief said on Thursday.

OMV’s oil and gas units are now about the same size, but the firm may shift its emphasis towards gas to cope with an expected long-term drop in oil demand, while demand for cleaner fuels like gas grows, said OMV’s corporate strategy head, Jost Ahrens.

“We consider to increase the share of our gas business,” Ahrens told a conference in the Austrian town of Fuschl am See.

Oil demand in Europe was likely to fall significantly before 2030, while gas output was expected rise in China, India and Europe, Ahrens said,

OMV is one of five Western firms to invest in Nord Stream 2, which will export Russian gas to Europe. However, U.S. sanctions on Russia add to challenges facing the project.

The European Union has yet to approve the pipeline plan, but Ahrens said OMV expected regulatory backing by the end of 2017. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle, additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla)

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