LPJ INTERVIEW: Sabina Skrtic, Assistant Minister of Economy
1. In January, the government awarded 10 licences for the hydrocarbons exploration in the Croatian Adriatic Sea to three consortia. Are you satisfied with what has been done thus far, and what can we expect in the future?
If we take into account the global geopolitical situation and the steep drop in oil prices, we must be satisfied with how the project has progressed. I must point out that, by insisting on the development of its energy sector in the past two years, Croatia has consolidated its position on the energy map of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as at the global level where it is perceived as an important factor of energy stability. Through initiating energy projects that are also viewed by Europe as strategic, we will leave the legacy of energy security and stability for future generations. This is important for the energy sector, as well as for the entire Croatian economy. As a result of making such strategic advances, it is reasonable to expect an influx of new knowledge, experiences and know how, not only in Croatia’s energy sector, but also in the country’s wider industry and other accompanying business sectors. We are hopeful that the hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation will contribute to the recovery of our industrial sector, and increase the appeal of the STEM educational background and a whole range of technical professions. This is really important, since we know that such professions are especially important for the sustainability of any national economy.
2. What are the prospects for the on-shore hydrocarbons exploration tenders, whose bidding deadline is 18 February?
At this point, it is hard to make any projections. However, the fact remains that studies have shown that Croatia has on-shore oil and gas reserves, which have been exploited for decades. Also, similar to the case of off-shore exploration, the project has attracted an increased interest of international companies. In order to make more pertinent conclusions, we need to wait for the results of the tender. However, the present level of interest in the project suggests that we have successfully positioned Croatia on the investment map, in this respect.
3. LNG Croatia recently received eight bids for consultancy services for the construction preparations of the LNG terminal on the Island of Krk. What are your expectations regarding the project’s development this year?
After several years of preparation, in the past year, the Ministry of Economy and LNG Croatia have done a tremendous job to “kick-start” the LNG project. The efforts were also recognised by the European Commission, which declared the project strategic for the energy stability of Europe, not only for Croatia and the region. We are pleased that “big players” and eminent global companies in the energy sector have shown interest in the project. By August 2015, we plan to prepare the necessary documentation and apply the project for co-financing under the CEF programme. Presently, we are receiving nonbinding bids under the Open Season Procedure for capacity allocation. Through 2015, we need to finalise the financial and business model, prepare most of the technical documentation and apply the project for EU co-financing. As you can see, we are optimistic about our plans. Everything is presently going according to schedule. The LNG project is not only important for Croatia, but also for the EU’s gas supply diversification, contributing to the Union’s energy security.
4. In what stage of development are other important energy projects in Croatia…