Austria's OMV sees potential in underground carbon storage to fight global warming

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian oil and gas group OMV aims to reduce its own carbon emissions by trapping CO2 underground and could offer the same storage solution to clients, its chief executive said.

Projects in the United States and Norway have shown that capturing and underground storage of waste carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels or chemicals, is a safe way to help fight global warming, CEO Rainer Seele told journalists on Thursday.

“This is a very important technology for us where we can make an important contribution... We have several storage sites that have the right size,” the CEO said, adding that several storages in Austria, including previous natural gas storages, could be considered.

Fossil fuel companies are seen as a major cause of global warming as they produce huge amounts of carbon dioxide from burning oil and have come under increasing pressure from investors to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Refraining from expanding into renewables like BP and Royal Dutch Shell, OMV’s efforts have been focused on prioritizing gas over oil and the development of a technology that recycles used plastic and converts it into synthetic crude oil. The group plans to commercialize the so-called ReOil technology by 2025.

In total, OMV has the capacity to store several million tons of carbon dioxide, Seele said. “This could become a potential business model for OMV.”

However, a legal framework is needed to facilitate the development of such an approach, he said.

Once a reliable framework is in place, OMV could launch its first carbon storage projects within a few years, Seele said.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle