UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Energy & Mining
Senior Vice President, Downstream Middle East and Asia, OMV
Alois Virag has been OMV’s Senior Vice President Downstream Middle East and Asia since 2017. Carrying responsibility for OMV’s refineries, he decisively shaped the creation of a more integrated and standardized business model through efficiency and yield optimization and established a top quartile safety record. He was also a key architect in the design and implementation of OMV’s petrochemicals expansion strategy, middle distillate flexibility, and increased residue upgrade. Prior to assuming his new role, Virag led the group’s wide transformation program, strengthening OMV’s overall competitiveness, including the start of a cross-divisional operations excellence program and an overhaul of OMV’s procurement and IT.
What factors drove OMV’s acquisition of a 15% equity interest in ADNOC Refining and the creation of the company’s first integrated downstream business outside Europe?
OMV’s acquisition of a 15% equity interest in ADNOC Refining can be considered as a transformational transaction. In fact, it represents a major milestone in the execution of our 2025 strategy, which focuses on producing assets and expansion into growing markets. With this transaction, OMV established a strong integrated position along Abu Dhabi’s value chain, spanning from upstream production to refining, trading, and petrochemicals. OMV is now a strategic partner in the world’s fourth largest refinery. ADNOC Refining includes the Ruwais East and West as well as the Abu Dhabi Refinery. It has a total capacity of 922,000bpd. With the newly acquired stake, OMV’s refining and petrochemical capacities have increase by 40% and 10%, respectively.
How would you assess the intrinsic value of having a strong integrated position across the value chain?
As outlined in its 2025 strategy, OMV aims at growing its downstream oil business by exporting its successful refining and petrochemicals business model to international growth markets. We follow the same integrated business model of downstream oil that defines our success in Europe. OMV has both oil and gas concessions in Abu Dhabi, with high-quality oil production already in operation at the SARB and Umm Lulu fields. With 1.7 million tons of propylene capacity, ADNOC Refining is already forward-integrated into petrochemicals. Further value will be created by setting up the new global Trading Joint Venture with the same equity shareholdings as the ADNOC Refining partnership. It will likely start operation as early as 2020 and will be the international exporter of ADNOC Refining, considering that in 2019, roughly 70% of the production was exported internationally. OMV’s know-how will support the development of the JV, optimizing systems and managing international feedstock and product flows, and hence maximizing the margins along the value chain.
What are some of the company’s technical competences that will be applied in Abu Dhabi?
In the downstream sector, OMV is a European champion with excellent operations. According to the Solomon benchmarks, OMV is a top performer in fuels and olefins. We are outperforming the market in important KPIs such as Net Cash Margin, Cash OPEX, and Maintenance Index. We are leading in Process Safety in Europe and in Project Management Excellence globally. This allows us to manage the best integrated oil value chain. Through the 15% stake in ADNOC, we are partner of a Middle East champion and we believe we can unlock further value by exporting our expertise and a successful European business model.
What developments will be fundamental in meeting global demand while also considering environmental, social, and economic conditions?
OMV will shift its production toward jet fuel because it has a positive outlook. Furthermore, we will upgrade our production to petrochemicals, while using oil as a feedstock for high-quality petrochemical products and polymers. Environmental, social, and economic needs can only be met if the recycling rate can be increased through the circular economy, not only by producing petrochemicals instead of fuels but also by prolonging the lifecycle of hydrocarbons. Raw material recycling is an innovative OMV research project that uses old plastics to produce synthetic refinery feedstock. OMV sees immense potential for its proprietary technology and its associated services in a society that is increasingly looking for alternative resources and value-added recycling. With our proprietary ReOil technology, we can produce one liter of synthetic crude for every kilogram of plastic waste. This year we strive for the scale up of the process with the clear aim to start building the first industrial scale plant as early as 2025. OMV aims at increasing the share of sustainable feedstock co-processed in the refineries to 200,000 tons per year by 2025. This way, the refinery will still be the place for the conversion and value generation, however, with a reduced CO2 footprint.