Thursday, 19 May 2022

PM Says Croatia Can Play Crucial Role In Providing Energy In Europe

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - Croatia can be a crucial country for future energy supply to the countries in its neighbourhood that now fully depend on Russian energy sources, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday commenting on the "REPowerEU" plan to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels in Europe.

Plenković told a news conference that the REPowerEU Plan, which the European Commission presented on Wednesday as its response to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, highlights the need to invest in gas and oil pipelines networks.

This is an opportunity for the Croatian companies Plinacro and Janaf, and talks are being conducted with them to see what can be done, said the PM.

Plinacro, a leading Croatian gas transport system operator, and Janaf, which manages the oil transport network, have initial projections of necessary investments, according to Plenković.

The EU has a high degree of understanding for Croatia's crucial role, and the Croatian energy companies "have important roles in the changed energy structure of Europe," he added.

The PM highlighted three aspects of the EC plan: saving energy, diversifying supplies and accelerating the rollout of renewables.

The €300 billion plan consists of schemes for the disbursement of €225 billion in loans and €75 billion through grants.

The investment in gas and oil infrastructure is important to us because they create possibilities for additional investment, enhance our capacity and help Croatia become a strategic country in the diversification of supply routes, said Plenković.

He said that the government was taking necessary steps to fill gas storage capacities, as required by the EU.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Oil Embargo Against Russia Won't Have Major Impact on Croatia, Energy Expert Says

ZAGREB, 4 May 2022 - An EU ban on imports of crude oil and oil products from Russia should not have a major impact on Croatia, which mostly gets its supplies from the Mediterranean, energy expert Igor Dekanić told Hina on Wednesday.

"Croatia is not in a bad position because more or less it imports oil products from the Mediterranean, specifically from Italian refineries. As for natural gas, we have an LNG terminal that provides considerable sources of supply from countries other than Russia," Dekanić said.

Asked if there would be enough energy products and at what price, he said that there would probably be enough energy products, but that it was difficult to say at what price because energy prices were formed based on expectations. He said he expected higher prices because suppliers that would replace Russia would certainly not offer oil and oil products at lower prices.

Asked about the position of the Hungarian energy company MOL, a co-owner of the Croatian oil company INA, Dekanić said that MOL's position on Russian oil imports could be inferred from the position of the Hungarian government, which has so far been reserved about energy sanctions against Russia. Since MOL's imports from Russia are not insignificant, the company will have to be very "innovative" if the sanctions against Russia should be enforced.

"Between political and ethical principles and sanctions in the energy sector there is always a grey zone," Dekanić said, noting that despite the scale of the war in Ukraine neither side was suspending Russian gas deliveries via Ukraine to Europe for now. "Reserves are being destroyed, but the oil and gas pipelines are not. That would probably be the last thing to destroy."

As for the European Commission's proposal to ban Russian oil imports, Dekanić said that the proposal was yet to be discussed by the European Parliament and it should also be seen how Germany and eastern Europe would react, because they are more dependent on Russian energy products than western Europe is. "Goals and principles are one thing, while the position of individual members of the Union is another," he said.

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on the member states to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.

"We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimises the impact on global markets," von der Leyen said.

She also called for those responsible for war crimes committed in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and for the siege of Mariupol to be brought to justice.

The EU's sixth package of sanctions against Russia over its military invasion of Ukraine also includes a proposal that Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, be disconnected from the SWIFT international banking payment system and that three Russian media organisations be banned from broadcasting in the EU.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Croatia's Energy Supply Not In Question, Economy Minister Says

ZAGREB, 24 Feb 2022 - Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Thursday Croatia's supply with key energy sources was not in question despite the escalation of the Ukraine crisis and that if prices continued to increase over a longer period of time, the government would consider how to respond.

Speaking to the press after a cabinet session, Ćorić said the supply with gas and oil "has not been brought into question at all" at the moment and that "everything will be under control."

"We hope the war operations will cease and things be brought in order, " he added. "That's what we want for Europe and the world, and first and foremost for the Ukrainian people."

As for the economic situation, Ćorić said it would depend on the energy market. The gas price on the reference market has gone up 31% since yesterday and that of a barrel of Brent oil by 6%, he said.

The minister said those rises "will definitely" impact consumer goods. "However, that is something on which we can't have significant influence at the moment."

He hopes the Ukraine-Russia escalation, and consequently the escalation of energy prices, will be short-lived. The government's measures to buffer the blow of energy price hikes take effect on 1 April.

Asked what sanctions Croatia would impose on Russia and what that would mean for Croatia's economy, exporters and tourism, Ćorić said Croatia would follow other EU member states.

The economic consequences of the crisis will be proportionate to its duration, he said, adding that one could not expect the European and Croatian economies to function normally if the "horrors of war" continued.

Energy prices, which largely depend on Russia's aggression on Ukraine, "dictate the tempo on all other markets" and Croatia, as a small and open economy, can't avoid that, Ćorić said.

As for the Fortenova company, one of whose owners is Russia's Sberbank, he said it had a number of owners, that it used international markets for financing, and that he did not expect any sanctions against the financial sector to affect the company's liquidity and functioning.

For more, check out our politics section.