PKN Orlen (formerly Polski Koncern Naftowy - PKN) is the largest successor company to the old communist Polish retail petrol monopoly, CPN. CPN was established in 1944 and when the Communists consolidated control after the War, CPN became the retail petrol monopoly. After the fall of the regime, CPN was stripped of its non-retail assets. PKN has its origins in the late 1950s when it was established to operate the new oil refinery in Plock. In September 1999 PKN and CPN were merged into a new combine, PKN Orlen, which controls around 40% of the Polish petrol market from just over 2,000 service stations. PKN also has majority stakes in a number of smaller distributors such as Petroprofit, PetroZachód and Arge. A larger acquisition was Petrochemia Plock. In 2000 Orlen introduced a new brand identity "Orlen", and in 2001 a stake in the company was sold to MOL, the Hungarian oil company. Currently it operates just over 1,800 stations under the Orlen and Bliska brands.
In early 2003 the company made its first significant move outside Poland, when it agreed to buy surplus North German assets from BP, which had to be sold to meet the Cartel Office's requirements after BP bought Aral. This included around 320 Aral and BP Stations and Aral's subsidiary Eggert Mineralöl AG which supplied 169 EM-Stations. Although initially around one third used the Orlen name, the mapority used a new "Star" identity; in 2008 the chain was almost entirely switched to the discount Star brand.
In Spring 2004, PKN Orlen agreed to acquire a majority stake in the Czech company Unipetrol, which was the former monopoly company, and still the market leader in the Czech Republic with its Benzina branded stations. In 2006, it acquired a chain in Lithuania where it now uses the Orlen and Ventus brands.
Orlen first started issuing maps under its own name with this 2000 sheet map of Poland, at 1:1,000,000 scale. Demart of Warsaw prepared the map which although using a computerised base, looks quite cluttered due to a high level of detail on wooded areas shaded green.
For 2001, Orlen moved to a medium format hardback atlas at 1:300,000. The larger scale allowed ABW to include a high level of detail, while keeping the map design clear. An attractive small watercolour image of a tourist sight, with Polish and English descriptions, was placed at the foot of most pages and, unlike the sheet map, all Orlen stations were marked.
This late 1990s PKN booklet of Warsaw (Warszawie) is printed on magazine quality paper and spreads the city across 12 small format pages. The map is overprinted boldly with PKN locations, but actually marks all petrol stations, irrespective of brand. As well as a full station list, it carries many pages of adverts, including ones for Quaker State, Castrol and Selènia motor oils. One advert carries the symbols for seven competing oil companies!
The 1970s CPN map is of an unusually tall format. Both PKN and CPN maps have cartography by PPWK (Panstwowe Przedsiebiorstwo Wydawnictw Kartograficznych) which translates as 'State Cartographic Publishing House'.
It's not known when Orlen's German subsidiary started selling a softback atlas at a bargain price, but the two examples here date from 2008-09 (with a copyright date of September 2007) and February 2009. Each was sold for €2 and had 144 pages, including 108 of Germany at 1:350,000, produced by GeoGraphics Publishers. A number of larger scale maps of city environs were included, as well as a listing of all Star and Orlen filling stations, which were also marked with their logo on the maps. The extract shown above is of Köln from the 2007-08 edition, and shows the typical Germany map style. The 2009 atlas came from the filling station just S. of Pulheim marked as an Orlen; by the 2009 edition it (along with all but 2 or the Orlen stations) had been rebranded to Star. It is not known if a version of the earlier map was also produced in Orlen colours.
Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2000-9
All original copyrights in logos and map extracts and images are acknowledged and images are included on this site for identification purposes only.