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Erbse, Heimo - Ermacora, Felix (11/25)
Erdödy, Magnatengeschlecht Erdwärme


Petroleum, brownish-black to yellowish liquid consisting predominantly of hydrocarbons with a density of between 0.8 bis 0.9 g/cm3 (crude oil). In Austria, the prospecting and extraction of crude oil, which is one of the raw materials which have been declared state property, are in the hands of OMV AG, RAG (Rohöl-Aufsuchungs AG - Crude Oil Prospecting Company) and Van Sickle Ges. m. b. H. Systematic exploration started around 1925, at first for the Vacuum Oil Company. Two further foreign companies, Steinberg-Naphta (with French capital) and the German Raky-Danubia company engaged in prospecting in the years that followed. The first successful borehole (Gösting II) was drilled in 1934, where 30 tons of crude oil per day were extracted from a depth of 926 m. In consequence, Shell and Vacuum Oil jointly formed Rohölgewinnungs-AG.

Crude oil recovery was stepped up considerably between 1938 and 1945. On the basis of the decisions of the Potsdam Conference of 1945 the Soviet occupational force in 1946 declared approximately 95% of the petroleum and natural gas operations in Austria to constitute German Assets and founded the Soviet Mineral Oil Administration, which was entrusted with further operations. It was not until the conclusion of the State Treaty that the Austrian petroleum and natural gas fields became the property of the Republic of Austria (August 1955), which also put the Nationalisation Acts of 1946 and 1947 into effect. The Soviet Administration was succeeded in 1955 by the government-owned Austrian Mineral Oil Administration (Österreichische Mineralölverwaltung AG -ÖMV). Following preparatory work that had started in 1947, exploration began in the Alpine fore-lands of Upper Austria and Salzburg, at first by RAG and since 1965 also by ÖMV (now OMV).

By the end of 1997 a total of 107 million tons of crude oil had been recovered in Austria. The maximum was reached in 1955, when annual production reached 3.66 million tons; at present, annual production merely amounts to roughly one third of this quantity (1997: 0.93 million tons). In 1997 crude oil was from 790 oil fields in Lower and Upper Austria. The most important areas by far are the Vienna Basin with its geologically complex stratigraphic structure and the Upper Austrian molasse zone in Upper Austria. The largest oil field is at Matzen, Lower Austria (OMV, discovered in 1949), followed by Kemating (municipality of Lohnsburg am Kobernaußerwald), Voitsdorf, and Sattledt (all of them operated by RAG, Upper Austria). In 1999, approximately 37% of the crude oil contained in pores and crevices could be extracted. In order to increase output, water is injected into the oil deposits ("secondary oil production"). Approximately one third of the annual output is obtained in this way. Further innovations include horizontal drilling, which also helps to increase yield. In Austria, this technique was first used successfully in the northern part of the Vienna Basin in autumn 1991 ("Steinberg 20h", with an output of 45 tons/day). All of the crude oil extracted is processed in the Schwechat refinery of OMV, which has a throughput capacity of 10 million tons/year.

While total demand was still met from domestic sources in 1958, the share of domestic output had declined to 15.1 % by 1980, to 14.5 % by 1990 and to 11.0 % by 1997.

Petroleum transport is in considerable measure effected through pipelines, including the Transalpine Ölleitung (TAL) from Trieste (Italy) via Carinthia, Salzburg and Tirol to Ingolstadt (Germany); and the Adriatic-Vienna pipeline (Adria-Wien-Pipeline - AWP) which branches off the TAL pipeline at Würmlach, Carinthia, and delivers imported crude oil to the Schwechat refinery. In connection with the AWP pipeline a tank store was erected at Lannach, Styria. Further storage facilities are located at St. Valentin (Lower Austria), Lobau (Vienna) and Krift bei Kremsmünster (Upper Austria).

"Proved and probably extractable reserves" of crude oil in Austria amounted to approximately 8.4 million tons in 1997.

Literature: F. Brix and O. Schultz (eds.), Erdöl und Erdgas in Österreich, 21993.

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