Monday , 27 May 2024
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Global Economy

Poland merges major oil companies

Piotr Naimski, government plenipotentiary for critical energy infrastructure, was also considered a capable man by PiS opponents. After his resignation in the middle of the week, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki confirmed that he was the country's best energy specialist. It's not official – and yet many observers in political Warsaw are certain: Naimski is also going because he rejects the major merger of the state oil giants Lotos and PKN Orlen. He was considered the loudest silent critic of the merger. Because official statements are not documented.

Fusion has been pushed for four years

Opposition politicians like MP Adrian Zandberg from the Razem left-wing party are more talkative. He expresses "serious doubts about the merger, whether it will be safe for Poland in the long term, and I'm not alone in this, because apparently the dispute over it was one of the reasons why there was a rather spectacular dismissal yesterday."

The merger of the state-controlled oil companies has been in progress since 2018 – a major merger that also raised antitrust issues. The EU Commission therefore issued strict conditions. The advocates of the merger say that an oil giant will be created that can play its part worldwide, that does not have to be dictated by purchase prices, that can handle the huge upheavals and investments in the energy sector.

Headwind for Orlen boss Obajtek

Current Orlen boss Daniel Obajtek, a close follower of PiS boss Kaczynski, said: "We are building a multi-energy corporation capable of energy transformation, investing in research and development, but also capable of developing petrochemicals." The head of the group explained that it would no longer be able to rely on fuels, "but on petrochemicals". Obajtek is often ridiculed by his opponents as the mayor of Pcim. He was the mayor of a small town when Kaczynski discovered him. Under PiS, however, he made rapid progress in the state-controlled energy sector.

Now, just before the finish, the headwind seems enormous. Because the new group has to sell a lot: Hundreds of gas stations to the Hungarian MOL, parts of a refinery that is considered ultra-modern and thus a heart of the Polish energy infrastructure to the Saudi Aramco. Fund manager Dawid Czopek, who is critical of the merger, said on Polish television: "Nobody has forbidden the two companies, i.e. Lotos and Orlen, from working together, investing together in wind farms or buying fuel together. But this merger is harmful, also for our state ."

Concerns about proximity to Russia

Because both the Hungarian MOL and the Saudis are said to be dangerously close to Russia. In view of the most recent international developments, it was a call that was heard again and again, but apparently not heeded, that it would be better to leave it alone. It is primarily a business, they say. Critics like the former Economics Minister Piotr Wozniak don't accept that. Hasn't Angela Merkel repeatedly emphasized that "Nord Stream" is a purely economic project?

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