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Orlen moves into Hungary, MOL into Poland, in CEE gas market reshuffle

| 2022-12-02 2 min read

Orlen moves into Hungary, MOL into Poland, in CEE gas market reshuffle

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Orlen Unipetrol, owned by Poland’s leading energy company PKN Orlen, will take over 143 petrol stations in Hungary and 39 in Slovakia, the Budapest Stock Exchange announced on Thursday, 1 November.

The regional shake-up of retail fuel operators involves all of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, Poland, Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia, as well as Lithuania and Germany.

The deal will not significantly affect the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) wholesale market, however, as MOL, which has refineries in Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia, will buy the lion’s share of its fuel for pumps from Polish plants.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PIS) party has identified PKN Orlen as a potential strategic global company. In January, when the deal was first floated, Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted: “thanks to the contracts signed, the energy security of central Europe increases significantly.”

Orlen’s medium-term strategy progresses

On the breaking news, Orlen CEO Daniel Obajtek tweeted: “thanks to the foreign expansion of the Orlen network, the Polish brand will be present in six countries in Europe. We are starting the rebranding of the first stations in Hungary, and soon more in Slovakia.”

He added that the Polish company’s share of foreign petrol stations in its network will climb to 45%, according to the ‘ORLEN 2030’ strategy, under which the Polish government targeted expansion into a regional-level player.

“We have built the largest group in Central Europe, strong in many areas, which effectively strengthens current lines of business and develops new ones,” Obajtek said.

Once the handovers are completed, Orlen will near operation of 3,000 petrol stations in the V4 countries as well as Germany and Lithuania.

In May Obajtek pledged that Orlen would ensure oil supplies to all of CEE following the embargo on Russian oil in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

Orlen, MOL transform CEE’s retail energy market

This week’s acquisitions are part of a wider deal that Orlen signed with Hungary’s largest company MOL in January, under which the latter company will buy more than 410 petrol stations in Poland.

This was regulatory demand from the European Commission for Orlen to divest assets to clear the way for its acquisition of smaller Polish-state-owned company Grupa Lotos. 

Orlen also sold 30% of its 100% stake in Poland’s Gdansk oil refinery for USD 255mn and Lotos’ jet fuel business to Saudi’s Aramco, as part of the agreement.

The Polish energy group is already operating 79 of MOL’s Lukoil-branded petrol stations in Hungary and will take over another 64 in gradual steps through till mid-2024, according to a statement released Thursday.

Overall the Polish group will operate more than 660 service stations in Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary, making it the Czech market leader with 430 units, and a top-four operator in the other two countries.

MOL to become Poland market leader

MOL said on Wednesday that it had successfully concluded the agreement with PKN Orlen and Grupa Lotos, acquiring more than 410 service stations in Poland, making it the third largest player on the market, after Orlen and BP. The Hungarian company also noted that its total number of gas stations in Slovakia will climb to 91 next year.

According to last January’s announcement MOL will become the leader in the retail fuel market of Poland, where it will operate more petrol stations even than in its native Hungary.

MOL’s latest market entry makes Poland its tenth European presence, following Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Austria.