* Black Sea gas find could be biggest in OMV history
* Q4 clean CCS EBIT 730 million eur vs poll avg 582 mln
* Proposes raising dividend 10 pct to 1.10 eur/shr
* Shares in OMV, Petrom rise
By Michael Shields
VIENNA, Feb 22 The first successful Black
Sea well has made what could be OMV's biggest gas find
ever, the Austrian group said, capping a red-letter day as its
Libyan output approached pre-war levels and its results smashed
The offshore well jointly owned by Exxon Mobil and
OMV's Romanian unit Petrom has discovered
what could be up to 3 trillion cubic feet (84 billion cubic
meters) of gas, it said, citing preliminary estimates.
"This is something that happens just once in a manager's
lifetime, and today is the day," Chief Executive Gerhard Roiss
told reporters, breaking the news during OMV's 2011 results
press conference on Wednesday.
Exploration and production head Jaap Huijskes said officials
would meet ExxonMobil counterparts to plan the next steps for
the well, which could start up around the end of the decade.
"It is the first successful deepwater well in the entire
Black Sea, so this is significant," he said.
"Any production will cost billions and billions of dollars.
This is not going to be a cheap development if it proves to be
economic, although that is still up for debate."
OMV shares were up 3 percent at 28.44 euros, and Petrom
stock up 5.2 percent at 0.4102 lei at 1306 GMT.
"It is too early to determine whether the Neptun block will
ultimately prove to be commercially developable or not,"
cautioned Carmen Arsene, analyst at UniCredit CAIB Securities
Romania. "Overall positive, but with impact in the long run."
OMV shares had already rallied on news that it may get
output from Libya above pre-war levels this year. Huijskes said
OMV production in Libya -- which accounted for a tenth of its
total output in 2010 -- was back to 85 percent of pre-war
Libyan production fell sharply when a revolt against
Muammar Gaddafi's rule broke out a year ago, forcing OMV to
withdraw staff for security reasons.
OMV has a long-term stake there with 12 exploration and
production licences and petroleum contracts running up to 2032.
It expects to raise overall output volumes this year at its
exploration and production division, which OMV said was also
screening acquisition targets in the Middle East, Caspian and
Africa regions and preparing to enter new countries.
Operating earnings excluding one-offs and unrealised gains
from valuing inventories jumped 29 percent in the fourth quarter
to 730 million euros ($968 million), clearly beating even the
most optimistic estimate in a Reuters poll of
It said higher oil prices helped offset missing volumes from
Libya and Yemen, where unrest has also disrupted production.
"In Yemen, the security situation remains uncertain.
Re-launching production will take longer and will only be
approached if this can be achieved safely and sustainably," it
said. Yemen had provided 6,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day
(boed) in 2010.
OMV forecast the average Brent oil price would remain above
$100 per barrel this year, while the Brent-Urals spread was set
to remain tight.
OMV proposed raising its dividend by 10 percent to 1.10
euros per share, while the market had expected no change.
It had already reported that fourth-quarter production edged
up to 289,000 boed from 283,000 in the previous quarter.
OMV shares have traded at nearly seven times 12-month
forward earnings per share, according to Thomson Reuters
StarMine, which weights analysts' estimates by previous
That puts it at a discount to peers like Repsol on
10 times and Eni or Total at almost eight