Polish gas firm to pursue diversification strategy - CEO

Leszek Szymański/PAP

Poland's gas monopolist PGNiG plans to continue its gas diversification strategy and to raise the company's value in the short term, newly appointed CEO Jerzy Kwiecinski said at a press conference on Friday.

"Energy security and the diversification of gas supply remain our corporate priorities," Kwiecinski said. In his opinion, these goals can be achieved through "full independence from Russia after 2022 and development of own production in the country and abroad."

The PGNiG CEO added that the board's priority will be raising the company's value, through cooperation with other fuel groups.

"We want to be treated not just as a company, but to work for the Polish economy and work as well as possible with the government," Kwiecinski said. In his view, synergies with other large companies on the market, such as fuel groups PKN Orlen and Lotos, will enable a strenghthening of PGNiG's position on the international market. This concerns increasing the company's value to make it a true champion in the global dimension, Kwiecinski said. "That will be our chief task - to build value," he added.

The CEO went on to say that by the end of 2020, the firm will have updated its strategy, indicating the direction in which it wishes to develop. In order to become less prone to external market shocks, Kwiecinski continued, the firm should strive for a "multi-energy" model, as global concerns do. In his opinion, the size of PGNiG obliges it to look to the wider perspective rather than through the national prism. He added that now is the time for Polish companies to expand, initially on the regional scale.

Kwiecinski said that within its diversification of activities, PGNiG plans to strengthen the area of heating services and biogas. In heating, "we want to be an integrator of that market on the national scale," he said, adding that the company wants the gas market in Poland to grow "so that the Polish energy sector is to a greater degree based on gas."

He said PGNiG saw a future in the development of a distributed energy sector based on biogas. "That is, sources and the construction of local distribution networks for which we want to be operators," he explained, stating that national biogas production could account for the equivalent of about 4 billion square metres of natural gas a year.

PGNiG also intends to work on hydrogen technologies, which, Kwiecinski said, are seen as the replacement for natural gas in the future. The company wants to be active in the field of renewable energy sources, complementing the gas business. In this context, the PGNiG CEO mentioned solar power, but did not rule out also wind power.

In his view, heating "should be tightly integrated with the gas market," as the price of heat produced through coal burning will ris,e while that produced from gas will fall. He said PGNiG wants to work together with heat producers. "We want to talk to owners as well as local government," he said. (...) There will not be a single solution or model for cooperation."