The Polish, Hungarian, and Slovakian retail fuel markets are expected to see fiercer competition in 2023, with Hungarian MOL and Polish PKN Orlen as the two main contenders. A swap transaction concerning petrol stations between the leading oil companies was concluded in 2022, which has made both of them major players in each other’s countries, Világgazdaság reports based on Polish newspaper Parkiet.
The two major Central and Eastern European oil players have only been direct rivals in the Czech Republic so far, but now they will have to compete in the Polish, Hungarian, and Slovakian markets, and therefore across the entire Visegrád Group.
The background to the new situation is that Polish oil company PKN Orlen had to find a buyer for some of its assets, including part of its petrol station network in Poland for competition reasons, following the acquisition of local rival Lotos. The buyer has been Hungarian oil and gas company MOL, which will receive 417 service stations in Poland for $610 million, making it the third biggest player in the country’s market after PKN Orlen and BP (British Petroleum).
As part of the transaction, PKN will also enter the Hungarian market, where it will take over 143 service stations in two stages, and MOL will transfer 39 stations in Slovakia to its Polish competitor.
The full re-branding is expected to be completed by March, with the stations being redesigned in line with ORLEN’s branding standards and the Group’s red and white design. Both companies also have a presence in the Czech Republic, where PKN remains the market leader with 430 service stations, and MOL second with 303.
MOL told Polish newspaper Parkiet that
they see the entry into the Polish market as a starting point and are interested in achieving a strong second position.
To do so, MOL would need to overtake British Petroleum and expand its network by another 100 petrol stations. Orlen has similarly ambitious plans in Hungary, where they want to strengthen their fourth position in the Hungarian market, and further growth is also on their agenda.
In addition to the Visegrád Group’s four countries, MOL is currently present in Croatia, Romania, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro. PKN Orlen has interests in the German and Lithuanian markets, but both companies are considering entering new markets.
Speaking of the fuel situation, it is worth mentioning that after the holiday price drop, there is now a noticeable rise in fuel prices in Hungary. From January 4, the price of 95 octane petrol will rise by 10 forints gross and the price of diesel by 4 forints gross, bringing the average price of petrol to 652 forints (EUR 1.62) per liter and that of diesel to 720 forints (EUR 1.79) per liter. However, prices at individual stations may vary.
For the two major players mentioned in the article, the prices will be roughly the same, with only slightly higher prices at PKN Orlen, according to Holtankoljak, a Hungarian comparison website. The average price of 95 octane petrol will be 641.66 forints (EUR 1.60) per liter at MOL and 643.04 forints (EUR 1.6037) per liter at PKN Orlen for the period of January 2-8, 2023. The average price of diesel over the same period will be HUF 715.86 (EUR 1.7853) per liter at MOL and HUF 717.04 (EUR 1.7881) per liter at Orlen.
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