US energy official: Croatia could become regional energy leader

Pixabay (ilustracija)

US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, Francis R. Fannon, said on Friday in Zagreb that by building an liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the island of Krk, Croatia had the opportunity to become a regional energy leader.

Energy infrastructure encourages economic growth and strengthens countries’ self-determination and sovereignty, Fannon said at a round table in Zagreb.

“We live in extraordinary times in terms of energy, because of newly discovered fields around the world, and the progress in extraction technology and fuel production,” he added.

Fannon arrived in Croatia on Friday after visiting Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt. In those eastern Mediterranean countries large reserves of natural gas have been discovered over the past decade, Fannon said, and added that supplies from there should find a way to Europe across Croatia in a few years.

Earlier this month, the state-owned company LNG Hrvatska, established to manage the yet-to-be-built terminal, selected a €160 million bid by Norway’s Golar Power to convert an LNG tanker ship into a floating terminal on the site, expected to be operational by early 2021.

The supplier of the ground-based terminal yet to be built on location in the northern Adriatic has not been selected yet.

Fannon also mentioned the US, Australia, and Qatar as possible natural gas sources for supplying Europe, and added that Croatia has the opportunity to become a leader in the supplying gas from many incoming sources.

US ambassador to Croatia, Robert Kohorst, said at the round table that future buyers of natural gas stored at the LNG terminal on Krk island would mainly come from Southeast Europe, given that the north of the continent has other sources of supply.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency said earlier this month that natural gas would replace coal as the second most important energy source in the world by 2030 – the first being petroleum – and projected that the global demand for gas would keep rising by 1.6 percent per year.

“We must look at energy in a new context. It would be a mistake to expect things to stay as they are,” Fannon said, noting that US oil production jumped from 6 million barrels a year in 2012 to 11 million today.

“That’s an incredible growth, and the situation is similar with gas,” he added.

Fannon added that building such infrastructure creates a broad strategic advantage, and added that having access to more sources creates a more competitive environment. He cited Lithuania as an example where building a terminal resulted in lower gas prices, and added that depending on one supplier is not healthy for any country.

He also welcomed Croatia’s plans to explore for new oil and gas exploitation fields in its territory.

In October, the Croatian government launched a tender for bids for exploration and exploitation at seven continental locations in the north of the country. Bids can be submitted by June 2019.

“We are glad that Croatia has embarked on an independent energy journey, and that it wants to be a regional energy hub,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, Fannon had met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, and confirmed US support for the project to construct the LNG terminal on the island of Krk, the government said in a press release.

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