Gas sales in Poland
Liquefied petroleum gases are due to go on sale at Statoil's service stations in Poland before the end of October.
The local Statoil Polska subsidiary is equipping 20 service stations with tanks and pumps to fill vehicles with LPG, which is also called autogas.
This marks the first step in a planned build-up of the group's LPG business in Poland.
Sales are being launched at a very favourable time, reports Jesper Børs-Lind, head of international LPG business development in Retailing & Nordic Energy.
Vehicles must be specially equipped to run on autogas rather than petrol. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest newspaper, private motorists wanting to install such equipment face a three-month wait.
Petrol prices in Poland have risen by nearly 40 per cent so far this year, and some 23 per cent for autogas.
While a litre of unleaded petrol costs about PLZ 2.60 today as against PLZ 1.90 at the New Year, the paper reports, the price of autogas has risen from about PLZ 0.60-0.65 to PLZ 0.80 per litre.
"This means that demand for LPG from motorists, which was already high, has shot up even further," says Mr Lind.
He adds that Statoil plans to expand its LPG operations in Poland next year, initially through bulk sales of autogas to industry.
"We're also considering whether collaboration with the Polish LPG arm of Finland's Neste/Fortum would be appropriate in the wake of our planned partnership with this group on the service station side in Poland, Russia and the Baltic states."
Statoil wants to offer LPG over the next two years to almost half the service stations in Poland. And the aim is to raise total Polish sales above the group's Norwegian turnover of these gases - roughly 40,000 tonnes annually - within three years.
The Polish subsidiary currently has 95 service stations in operation and another three under construction.