Energy 9 March, 2018 11:00 am   
Editorial staff

Miland: The extension of the Pomeranian pipeline will serve not only Poland (INTERVIEW)

Rafał Miland, Vice-President of PERN talks about fruits of the merger, infrastructure plans and other issues related to the operation of company’s transmission pipeline operator. PERN – OLPP merger has ended. What is the integration of different management cultures, about which you mentioned in the media?

Rafał Miland: Our companies, although in one capital group, acted complementarily and had only a few contact points. Of course, where it was justified, a common policy was implemented, for example regarding purchases, but the companies managed their operations in various ways. PERN acted in a centralized way, and OLPP – decentralized due to large infrastructure scattering. Now, in order not to impose one of these two models, we are trying to develop common solutions for connected companies. The decision in this matter belongs to the Management Board, although we will always act in dialogue with the unions and the employees’ council. We have dedicated this year to the unification of PERN’s operating model after the merger.

What will be the role of European funds in your infrastructure projects?

The list of Projects of Common Interest is the construction of the second branch of the Pomeranian and Odessa-Brody-Gdańsk pipelines. For now, the European Commission is reluctant to this kind of investment because it recognizes that the oil market is competitive and does not need support. However, this approach may change. We want to build the second branch of the Pomeranian Pipeline, because it will increase the reliability of deliveries carried out by PERN, but also strengthen their security on a regional scale. Refineries have to get raw material on time, and often it is raw material of different species with different characteristics. Our role is to meet customer requirements. That is why we have put this project in our strategy. We will manage even without the EU funds, reaching for commercial financing. We are done with talks with banks and we have the potential to raise funds for this purpose. However, I do not want to prejudge this in the preparatory phase in which we are now.

Will a special act help you?

We do not have a law supporting investments along the lines of solutions from the gas or electricity sector. We would like to change it. A special act, however, will not release us from the obligation to care for the environment. It will facilitate the purchase of land and other administrative procedures, allowing the investor to act faster. However, it will still be obliged to include sensitive natural areas in the plans. The first thread of the Pomeranian pipeline was created in the 1970s. Since then, a number of regulations have been introduced, which will have to be taken into consideration when using the second thread. If necessary, we will adjust the investment route to environmental requirements.

How is the second thread supposed to improve delivery?

Currently, it is possible to change the type of oil supplied to our customers, but it requires a time-consuming procedure of exchanging the pipeline’s content. Thanks to the second thread, it will be possible to send different types of oil simultaneously in two different directions. This will improve diversification. And interest in various types of oil is reported not only by Polish refineries (parallel to our talk in Naftoport, the delivery of CPC oil ordered by a customer from Germany continues). The new thread is also a matter of security, because of course in the event of a fault in one pipeline, with the help of the other, we can maintain the continuity of supplies.

How will this project affect the potential of the next, or reversion to Belarus?

We believe that it is necessary to consider using the raw material base in Adamów to store crude oil supplied not only from the East. If there is such interest, we will store the oil of various species there. Today, as far as the eastern section is concerned, we are concentrating on this issue.

With regard to the reverse side to Belarus, it would be necessary to specify what further technical and investment measures would be necessary. In addition, the Belarussian side would have to show interest in deliveries from Naftoport and a contract for using our pipelines for such operations. This has not happened so far. We had a survey question on this subject, but no specifics followed. The current direction of oil flow through Belarus is still functioning. Belarusian refineries produce fuel that meets the quality standards in force in the European Union. Part of this fuel goes to Poland. Thanks to the fuel package and the fight against the gray zone, this stream was „legalized”.

What about the Odessa-Brody-Gdańsk oil pipeline?

PERN is not the only a shareholder of Sarmatia, and the possible implementation of the project would require specific offers. For now, we have three pipelines from the east, supplies by Naftoport and a plan to build a second branch from Płock in Pomerania. Deliveries to the south towards Brody would probably be a form of diversification, for Poland or for Ukraine, but the billions of costs of this project should be taken into account. It must have economic justification. If you are willing to supply oil on such a route and will be able to offer commercial terms of the contract, we will certainly not reject them.

What have the anti-terrorist exercises shown, in which PERN took part?

The oil infrastructure is safe from the physical side, that is standard threats. Existing systems allow to detect and neutralize the threat quickly, for example in the form of a violation of the pipeline strip separated from access by outsiders. In the PERN Capital Group there is a security company Naftor, which is a Specialist Armed Security Formation. We also protect the infrastructure against attacks in cyberspace, we cooperate in this respect with the PSE, which CERT serves all operators, that is also Gaz-System. We have a so-called team SOC. The anti-terrorist exercises that you mentioned were carried out to the very end in conditions close to real, eg emergency services or the police were operating without prior knowledge of the exercises being carried out. The organizers knew that this was not a real threat. We passed this exam. The scenario was based on attempted terrorist attack on one of the PERN objects. It was quickly disposed of, and everything worked well. However, this race is endless and there are no winnings. We will constantly improve our ability to act in response to a threat.

Interview conducted by Wojciech Jakóbik