Poland’s treasury minister got the chop on Friday from a furious premier Donald Tusk, who was enraged that he had not been informed about negotiations with the Russians over a possible expansion of a natural gas pipeline running across Polish territory.

The talks were held between the Russians and Polish state-controlled gas and pipeline operators and, according to Tusk, did not violate Poland’s national security. However, Tusk was wrong-footed earlier this month when word leaked out that a preliminary agreement had been signed with the Russians without his knowledge. Read more

There’s a Polish saying about not dividing the skin on a bear – in other words waiting before the animal is caught before planning a warm coat. That’s a saying Poland’s finance ministry might do well to remember as it prepares a new tax regime for the oil and gas industry.

The proposed tax rates have the industry screaming. Read more

Poland reacted frostily to an surprise announcement on Friday by Russia’s Gazprom that it had signed a preliminary agreement to build a new gas pipeline across Polish territory, saying it had no desire to increase its dependence on Russian energy.

“Strategically speaking, we do not want to expand the pool of Russian gas,” premier Donald Tusk said on Friday. Back to you, Gazprom! Read more

Photo: Bloomberg

A word of advice to investors thinking of taking a flutter on central European refiners: don’t.

That comes from Tomas Pletser of Erste Bank, who took a look at the region’s refiners and found little to cheer in a sector buffeted by overcapacity, and by the slowdown in western Europe, all with the threat of growing competition from Russian refiners. Read more

Stock pickers might want to make sure that they are following the Twitter feed of Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister.

Those who do would have received a tweet late on Monday afternoon to the effect: “My intuition tells me that [treasury minister Mikolaj] Budzanowski will soon have important information re the price of gas in Poland.” Those in the know tied that comment to the ongoing talks that Poland was conducting with Russia’s Gazprom about lowering the price that Poland pays in its long-term contract. Read more

Photo: Bloomberg

Maybe it’s time to file away Poland’s adventure in shale gas under “market failure”. The invisible hand has yet to find the gas in marketable quantities, something that recently prompted ExxonMobil to throw in the towel and quit exploring in Poland.

But this leaves an opening for the visible hand of government, as Poland’s largest state-controlled companies band together to hunt for the fuel. Read more