Austria’s OMV has delayed by three years the expiry date of an option agreed with Gazprom to buy a large stake in a Russian gas-producing entity as it turns its attention instead to divestments.

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The expiry date to take up the 25% stake in Achim Development in West Siberia has been pushed out to 2025, as against the earlier plan of next year.

Speaking on a conference call on Thursday, OMV chief executive Rainer Seele whether or not the company takes up the option will depend on the performance of its other projects.

“We are not thinking about acquisitions at the moment,” Seele said, pointing out that implementation of a divestment programme is a priority for OMV.

“However, we will keep this option in our portfolio,” he added.

OMV and Russian state-controlled monopoly Gazprom announced the equity agreement in October 2018, since when its completion has been repeatedly postponed.

Achim Development — where Gazprom has a 75% stake and Germany’s Wintershall Dea holds the remaining interest — is set to commercialise gas in deep and high-pressured Achim formations at blocks 4A and 5A at Gazprom’s Urengoy field.

As the deal between Gazprom and OMV was delayed last year, Achim Development moved forward with the drilling of development wells on Block 4A, reachingfirst production of gas and condensate from the deposit last month.

The venture enjoys highly developed supporting infrastructure on the Urengoy field, which is one of the three major shallow gas deposits in West Siberia being developed by Gazprom since the 1960s.

Separately, OMV said that its Romanian wholly owned subsidiary OMV Petrom expects to complete the sale of its assets in Kazakhstan during the first half of this year, with the sale price to be announced at the time of the deal’s closure.

OMV Petrom holds interests in the onshore Komsomolskoe, Aktas, Tasbulat and Turkmenoy fields in Kazakhstan that will go to Magnetic Oil. The four fields account for production of about 6450 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

OMV executives also said that the company and its partner, US supermajor ExxonMobil, are still on track to make the final investment decision on the Neptun Deep offshore gas project in Romania during the first quarter of 2022, with first gas expected in 2025.

However, OMV cautioned that Romania must first amend its controversial offshore law, — adopted in 2018 and which has worsened fiscal terms for operators — this year in order for it to move forward with the project sanction.

ExxonMobil and OMV Petrom each have a 50% share of the Neptun Deep block that holds the Domino discovery, which is estimate to have recoverable reserves of between 1.5 trillion and 3 trillion cubic feet of gas.