Czech state fuel distributor Čepro chief Jiří Borovec is tired, de-motivated and will step down from the post in December. In political circles, there is talk of him having been pushed to leave, with the Industry and Trade Ministry looking to install one of their own as CEO. It could be he’s frustrated that PM Petr Nečas doesn’t share his vision for a strategic regional hook-up, as PKN Orlen, MOL and Total wait in the wings.
Top Czech oil refiner Unipetrol has reported a first-quarter net loss of Kč 361 million (down from Kč 464 million in 1Q11) on lower sales of fuels and reduced profits due to higher crude oil prices — and the macroeconomic situation, analysts said. The result was wider than the average estimate of a Kč 86 million loss seen in a Reuters poll.
Česká rafinérská, the largest Czech recipient of oil via the TAL pipeline is running up monthly arrears of Kč 1.8 million after refusing to pay higher shipment tariffs. The refusal has brought it into conflict with Czech state-owned oil pipeline operator Mero, which negotiates all oil shipments via TAL on behalf of Czech customers and pays for the shipments up front. No resolution of the spat looks likely in the short term.
Prague-listed petrochemical giant Unipetrol, majority-owned by Poland’s PKN Orlen, said Thursday it anticipates an even deeper operating loss in the fourth-quarter of 2011 that it posted in Q3, due to a impairment charge on a subsidiary, foreign exchange losses and expenditures. Unipetrol said in a trading statement it would more than double its 3Q loss to book a Kč 500 million loss in the final quarter of 2011.
Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW) has detained the senior manager at oil & gas concern PKN Orlen responsible for the petrochemicals sector — including the Czech firm Unipetrol, in which the Polish fim has a majority stake — over suspected corruption. According to the Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw, the investigation is looking at Marek Serafin’s alleged preferential treatment of a third party and abuse of business trust.
In 1944, Allied bombers targeted the petrol refinery in Pardubice, eastern Bohemia, destroying the the plant, which was an important source of fuel for Nazi Germany’s war machine. Pardubice Town Hall has announced that due to three construction works projects to be realized at the refinery and in its immediate vicinity, some 4,000 or more people may have to be evacuated.
It appears Czech government ministers have suddenly realized that state-owned refined oil products distribution and retail firm Čepro is a strategic company now that regional oil refiners are showing interest in buying into the enterprise with a unique 1,100-kilometer pipeline network for the distribution of petroleum and diesel, and 17 large storage facilities for refined fuels.
Responding to a request from the Prague chief prosecutor’s office, Swiss authorities carried out an investigation that revealed Kč 30 million on the bank account of Tomáš Kadlec, the former head of Czech state-owned strategic fuels company Čepro. Kadlec was previously a top figure in the domestic intelligence agency BIS and head of the National Security Authority (NBÚ).
Hanoi has approved a Czech government project to aid victims of “Agent Orange” — the notorious defoliant used in the US military’s herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War that left some 500,000 children with birth defects and killed or maimed as many adults. At the height of the war, the Czechoslovak communist regime quietly supplied the ‘imperialist’ Americans with chemicals for the toxic mix.
Despite a 7 % year-on-year increase in revenue (to Kč 24.065 billion), Prague-listed downstream oil group Unipetrol on Friday announced a third-quarter operating loss of Kč 230 million — versus a profit of Kč 238 million in 3Q10 — following a planned outage at its biggest plant, the Litvinov refinery.