UPDATE 3-OMV bets on plastics amid shift from fossil fuels

* Q4 operating profit down by a third

* Creating a new chemicals and materials division

* Disposal programme well on its way (Adds CEO comments)

BERLIN, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Austria’s OMV is creating a new chemicals and materials division to tap into the growing market for plastics, the oil and gas producer said on Thursday, as it grapples with the pandemic and a longer-term shift away from fossil fuels.

OMV completed a deal in October to raise its stake in plastics maker Borealis to 75%. Borealis CEO Alfred Stern will head up the new chemicals division from April 1, OMV said.

OMV wants to focus more on producing oil to make plastic rather than for burning as the world turns towards more renewable sources of fuel to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, CEO Rainer Seele told a media briefing.

OMV’s fourth-quarter adjusted operating profit fell by a third to 524 million euros ($629 million) on revenue down 18% to 4.96 billion euros as the pandemic hit fuel demand, yet it beat analysts’ forecasts.

The company’s shares were up 2.5% at 1100 GMT.

OMV’s exploration and production business reported a fall of more than half in adjusted operating profit while the downstream division was helped by two months of Borealis results.

OMV expects its production to rise to around 480,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in 2021 from 463,000 boepd in 2020, depending on the security situation in Libya and any production cuts by governments.

It has abandoned a target of increasing output to 600,000 barrels per day by 2025 due to its strategic shift and the delay to any potential involvement in a Siberian gas field.

Seele said there were more positive signals from Washington under new U.S. President Joe Biden about the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project which OMV is helping to build but that Paris was sounding more critical. It said it hoped for talks with Berlin.

As it seeks divestments to help it through the current economic crisis, OMV said it had already signed deals leading to a deleveraging effect of more than 1 billion euros in 2021.

It expects the closing for the sale of its German petrol station network in the second half of the year, and hopes to complete the sale of Borealis’ fertiliser business and its Slovenian petrol stations this year.

$1 = 0.8326 euros Reporting by Emma Thomasson and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; editing by Jane Merriman and Jason Neely