* OMV will continue to buy small amounts of Libyan crude
* To keep Libya exposure minimal but not close door - CEO
* Respecting sanctions, assumes contracts will be honoured
(Adds quotes on oil market, contracts)
By Sylvia Westall
VIENNA, March 9 (Reuters) - Energy group OMV (OMVV.VI) has been buying small amounts of Libyan crude oil and will continue to do so despite unrest there, its chief executive said, voicing optimism Libya will keep the door open for foreign oil firms.
The flagship of OMV’s growing North Africa business, Libya provided it with 33,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in 2010, around a tenth of the Austrian group’s output. However, those volumes have slumped since the conflict began, hitting OMV’s share price.
OMV has a long-term stake in the crisis-hit country with 12 exploration and production licences and Libyan petroleum contracts running up to 2032.
“We have long-term agreements for supply and offtake obligations and we have still bought Libyan crude oil to a certain extent, to a limited extent,” Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday.
“We will also in the future keep this to a minimal, very limited level,” he said.
He added that OMV’s share in production in Libya had dropped “massively” amid an uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s four decades of rule but he could not be more specific. Shateira, the field it operates itself, has been shut for some two weeks.
“It is correct that tankers are being loaded and readied but of course in significantly lower volumes than in the past and also not at all terminals,” he said.
The stock has fallen 6 percent since OMV warned of a Libyan production shortfall on Feb. 22. It was down 0.7 percent at 30.59 euros by 1525 GMT, in line with the sector. .SXEP
Ruttenstorfer, who steps down as CEO at the end of this month, said OMV was respecting all sanctions decisions on Libya and would continue to do so.
“We do not transfer money to the Gaddafi clan. Our business partner was always the NOC, the Libyan state oil company. That is still the case now. We will see how it develops in future.”
“We have contact exclusively with the NOC, the national company, no one else,” he said when asked if OMV had reached out to the anti-Gaddafi rebels or directly to the government.
“At the moment we are trying to keep our exposure to a minimum but of course we won’t close the door on the country. It will be an important country for Europe in future as well,” he said, adding democracies in the region would be fundamentally preferable as well as good for business.
Ruttenstorfer said he believed OMV’s oil contracts with Libya would be honoured because he assumed any government would be interested in foreign investment and maintaining exports.
He also played down the effect of the Libyan supply squeeze on the oil market.
“These are not huge amounts. This is less than 1 percent (of global output). This can easily be balanced by output in Saudia Arabia, the Gulf, (and what) Nigeria has also offered,” he said, citing additional capacity of around 5 million barrels.
“You have to consider that the quality of crude oil is not always the same but the bottom line is that this should not be a lasting problem with the conversion capacity that exists around the world.”
He said the current oil price, hovering at $114 a barrel LCOc1, was based not on fundamentals but on market psychology. (Additional reporting by Christian Gutlederer, Editing by Michael Shields and Alison Birrane)