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Interfax: Poland's top fuel firm PKN Orlen to raise upstream investments in strategy update

Interfax: Poland's top fuel firm PKN Orlen to raise upstream investments in strategy update

30.6.2006 16:19

WARSAW. JUNE 30. INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - Poland's top fuel firm PKN Orlen is looking to increase upstream investments from its currently-planned levels in order to enter the segment more quickly than previously envisioned, PKN Orlen Vice-President Cezary Filipowicz told reporters Friday.

"We would like to increase investments in preparations to become involved in the upstream business and accelerate our moves leading to finalization of the upstream projects, although the details have to first be approved by the company's supervisory board," Filipowicz said.

The revised approach to its upstream investment is expected to be discussed at the recently-changed PKN Orlen supervisory board meeting scheduled for July 11, 2006. In early January 2006 PKN Orlen had said that it plans to invest USD 2.6 bln in developing its upstream activity in a two-step process expected to result in the production of 4.3 mln tonnes of crude oil in 2015.

Filipowicz said the increased investment would allow the company to enter upstream projects earlier that the originally planned three years deadline.

"We would also like to accelerate our moves concerning approaches to upstream projects. For example, we want to do this faster than the initially planned three years," he said.

Filipowicz added that the update includes a widening of the geographic scope of potential Orlen investments.

"We are thinking about widening the areas of our interests to other states that weren't named in the currently existing strategy," Filipowicz said.

Orlen is also less enthusiastic about its involvement in upstream projects in Russia, which had been one of its prime targets for potential upstream development.

"Recent developments indicate that Russia wants to be an independent player in its upstream business so we had to rewrite our list of prime upstream areas in which we would be interested and move Russia to a lower position," Filipowicz said.

In its current strategy PKN Orlen had been considering searching for crude oil fields in several locations in Kazakhstan, Iraq and Russia. According to recent media reports, the company is also not ruling out activity in other Central Asian states such as Azerbaijan.

In the first stage, which will last until 2009, the company wants to focus on acquisitions of low-risk assets, preferring joint-venture projects. During this time Orlen intends to buy minority shares without undertaking the role of operator. The first stage of the upstream development program is expected to cost USD 130 mln annually.

In the second stage, which will last five years and cost USD 438 mln annually, Orlen plans to assume the role of operator but still employ outsourcing for technical issues. The company's ultimate goal is to produce 4.3 mln tonnes of crude oil in 2015, from zero production currently and an estimated 0.4 mln tonne production in 2007.

The long-term project foresees the company's involvement in direct explorations rising gradually.

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