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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

PKN Orlen and doubts related to the merger with Lotos. Debate in the program “Black and white”

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The circumstances of this transaction indicate that PKN Orlen wanted to cover up Łukoil’s traces, said Dariusz Wieczorek from the University of Gdańsk in the special edition of the “Czarno na Białe” program on TVN24, referring to the journalists’ findings. Former Minister of Economy and former President of PGNiG, Piotr Woźniak, pointed out that Russian crude oil could reach the Polish market through Saudi Aramco. Professor Michał Romanowski from the University of Warsaw said in turn that “the matter needs to be investigated”.

Former Minister of Economy and former President PGNiG Piotr Woźniak said that the “temptation of further resale by Saudi Aramco, especially the Gdańsk Refinery, continues to be a concern”. “The most interested is a real bear,” he said. He assessed that the information about the dubious connections of the board of Łukoil, whose stations were renamed PKN Orlen, “is simply a shame”. The former minister also referred to the provisions in the contract with Saudi Aramco regarding control over the Gdańsk Refinery. – This is giving the other partner full control. If you live well with him, then everything is fine, as in marriage, but this is not the case in business – said Woźniak.

He also referred to the claims of the government and the management of PKN Orlen that the merger of Orlen and Lotos would make Poland independent of Russian oil. He was asked whether the raw material could be supplied to the Polish market through Saudi Aramco Russia. “I think that possibility has already materialized. The Saudis imported Russian diesel, i.e. ready-made fuels, to themselves. These Russian tankers were circulating after the European embargo, wandering around the world with various strange offers. Some of it went to the fuel blending devices at Saudi Aramco, where it was mixed with Arabian oil and it was sent as a pure Saudi product to the whole world, not only to Poland – he explained.

– At the moment, Poland is the largest importer of Russian oil in Europe (…). The contract between PKN Orlen and Tatneft is still in force and expires in 2024, which is still a good year or better. On the basis of this agreement, Russian oil is still imported. That’s 10 percent. processing, he said. In addition, he stated that the barrier against the sale of Rafineria Gdańska in the contract with Saudi Aramco “is illusory”.

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“Circumstances require investigation”

Professor Michał Romanowski from the University of Warsaw said that “the most cautious approach suggests that this matter needs to be investigated.” – If someone buys a company and resells it on the same day, (…) it means that it is at least reasonable to assume that someone wanted to hide something – he said. He noted the “full determination and protection of Orlen’s lawyers against disclosure of information.” – This is a so-called national champion, important for national security. Secondly, a public company, and thirdly, it has public funds at its disposal, it is a strategic company. This company stubbornly refuses to allow inspectors to enter Orlen, which is worthy of a better cause, which justifies the questions and orders us all to ask them, he said.

He said that according to the laws in force in Poland, “every transaction that is a transaction whose beneficiaries are people associated with Russia should be perceived as one that aims to circumvent Polish law, or as one that is contrary to the principles of social coexistence.” – When it comes to ethics, there are actions that contradict such a model of a diligent and ethical manager – said Romanowski.

He noted that the president of PKN Orlen Daniel Obajtek “he does not have an access certificate (security clearance authorizing access to classified information – ed.) that allows him to reign in a managerial sense.” “He says he has a political agenda, but he should be a manager. He does not have access to the information that is necessary to carry out this type of transaction. It scares me,” he said.

“Orlen wanted to cover its tracks”

Dariusz Wieczorek from the University of Gdańsk said that “the circumstances of this transaction indicate that Orlen wanted to cover up Łukoil’s traces.” – If Orlen wanted to have petrol stations on Hungarythen it could buy them directly, and not involve MOL yet – he stated.

He pointed out that “there are a lot of threads here that don’t seem to fit together.” – It looks as if we have broken the puzzle, and at this point a certain picture begins to emerge. In my opinion, a lot of threads are quite clear at this point and we have the opportunity to substantiate various hypotheses – he said.

He also spoke about the situation on the oil market. He assessed that the raw material “is a lot on the market”. – Indeed, we have those countries, such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, which reported that they did not have infrastructural capabilities and European Commission did not impose an embargo on oil imported via pipelines. There are two refineries in the Czech Republic, both owned by Orlen, one in Slovakia and one in Hungary, both owned by MOL. So we can already say who buys Russian oil through pipelines. There is also the question of how PKN Orlen wants to deliver Saudi oil to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, if it is not possible to bring oil there by ships? he wondered.

Reportage “Black and white”

Orlen, according to financial reports, lost over PLN 4 billion on the sale of part of Lotos. According to Daniel Obajtek’s assurances, there is no shadow of Russia in the background of the great merger between Orlen and Lotos, but almost 80 gas stations operated in Hungary under the Russian brand Lukoil have just changed to Polish Orlens. Łukasz Frątczak, the reporter of “Black and white”, prepared another report revealing the background of the merger – “Game of appearances”. As he established, an American company was interested in buying part of Lotos, but Orlen did not start negotiations. The president of the concern claimed that there was no queue of applicants.

The merger between Orlen and Lotos, which Daniel Obajtek and the PiS government were pushing for, would “entirely” create an absolute monopoly on the fuel market on the Vistula River, and the European Commission would not agree to a monopoly. In order to bring about the merger, Orlen proposed to Brussels that it would sell some of the assets of the acquired Lotos.

Part of the Gdańsk Refinery went to the Saudi company Saudi Aramco. The part covering the production of bitumen and nine fuel terminals was purchased by the private Polish company Unimot. The part related to biofuels was bought by the international company Rossi Biofuel. Orlen sold 417 Lotos petrol stations to the Hungarian MOL, buying from it at the same time stations in Hungary and Slovakia.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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