Saturday, 28 September 2019

First Compressor Station in Gas Transport System in Operation by Year's End

ZAGREB, September 28, 2019 - The first compressor station in Croatia's gas transport system could be in trial operation as of October and in regular operation by the end of the year, it was said on Friday when Environmental Protection and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić and officials of the Plinacro gas pipeline operator visited the construction site at Velika Ludina in the Moslavina region.

Works on the 209.5 million kuna station, which will enable two-way gas transport between Croatia and Hungary from the start of 2020, began in August 2018.

Ćorić said it was especially important that the station would enable the normal operation of the future LNG terminal on Krk island.

"Although the lease of the terminal's capacity is lower than expected, a two-way route is necessary because one must consider the global situation in Europe, the ratio of LNG and natural gas prices, the ongoing negotiations at the European Commission's level, primarily the Russia-Ukraine gas transit. Alternative supply routes are increasingly topical, not just in Croatia but on the entire European continent," the minister said.

Plinacro CEO Ivica Arar said the construction of the first compressor station in Croatia's gas transport system was a strategic project which would also comply with European Commission criteria. He added that the construction of the Omišalj-Zlobin gas pipeline was likely to begin in January.

Asked by the press if the government planned to intervene if the prices of oil products continued to rise, Minister Ćorić said the government had intervention mechanisms for which there was no need yet.

Asked about the disposal of radioactive waste from the Krško nuclear power plant, which is co-owned by Croatia and Slovenia, he said it was necessary to wait for the outcome of a meeting with Slovenia due on Monday.

He said there was no agreement for now on a joint disposal site and that "Croatia is also ready for an alternative scenario."

More energy news can be found in the Business section.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Oil and Gas from Dinarides Would Reduce Energy Dependency

ZAGREB, September 11, 2019 - Minister of Environment and Energy Tomislav Ćorić said on Wednesday that he was satisfied with the interest shown in a tender for oil and gas exploration in the Dinarides and assessed that possible exploitation would reduce Croatia's energy dependency and fill the state and local budgets.

"This is proof that hydrocarbon exploitation in Croatia is continuing and that we have started what we communicated in the beginning - that in addition to creating an infrastructure or alternative supply route, we are increasing production in Croatia," Ćorić told reporters outside Government House with regard to the latest concluded tender for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation in the Dinarides, which received one bid.

"For Croatia that primarily means that our energy dependency will be decreased. On the one hand, that is what we want, and on the other, in the context of future exploration, that means revenue for the local community as well as for Croatia overall, if in the second phase exploration proves to be commercial," said Ćorić.

He recalled information provided by the Vermillion energy company regarding commercial discoveries at two exploration sites which, according to Ćorić, means a significantly higher income for local communities in the form of an allowance per square kilometre but also for the state because the state, too, will receive its share of extracted hydrocarbon quantities.

The Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency (CHA) on Tuesday announced that it had received one bid in the latest tender to issue licences for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the area of the Dinarides. Unofficial sources have said that the sole bidder was the INA oil company.

In January this year the government decided to launch procurement procedures for the issuance of licences for exploration and exploitation in the Dinarides, covering an area of 12,134 square kilometres and consisting of four exploration fields in the areas of Karlovac, Lika-Senj, Primorje- Gorski Kotar, Zadar and Split-Dalmatia counties but not including national parks and the areas off the coast and along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The exploration would be conducted for a period of five years.

More news about oil and gas exploration in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Companies to Invest 80 Million Euro at Six Gas and Oil Exploration Sites

ZAGREB, September 3, 2019 - The four companies which were recently chosen by the Croatian government to receive permits for gas and oil exploration and exploitation at six locations in north-western and central parts of the country, are expected to invest about €80 million in the exploration activities in the next five years, the head of the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency's management board, Marijan Krpan, said on Monday.

The four companies – INA, Crodux Derivati Dva, Vermilion Zagreb Exploration and the Hungarian company called Aspect Croatia – were this past Thursday awarded permits for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation at the six locations in the interior of Croatia. Thus, the government issued two permits to INA for two locations, and two permits to Crodux, while the other two companies were given one permit each. In late October 2018, the government invited applications for seven sites, and offers have been sent for all but one location.

The companies are expected to drill 25 exploration wells in the next five years.

Energy and Environment Protection Minister Tomislav Ćorić said that Croatia was committed to the exploration and exploitation of gas and oil on its territory.

The exploration activities are due to start in six months' time.

More news about oil industry in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Activists Urge Minister to Close Down Marišćina Waste Management Centre

ZAGREB, August 8, 2019 - Activists who demand the closing down of Marišćina, the main waste management centre in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, on Wednesday again urged Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić to close the centre because the situation in it had not improved and local residents still endured an intense stench.

The activists issued a statement saying that Ćorić had promised back in March that the centre would be closed if the pollution and stench it was causing were not removed by the end of May.

"Even though measuring parameters show that all relevant indicators are within tolerable ranges, an unbearable stench has been spreading in the area of Marcelj and nearby settlements for days," the activists said, noting that the head of the company operating the waste management centre, located in Viškovo municipality, northwest of Rijeka, had apologised for the stench to local residents several times.

"Marišćina is evidently not functioning properly, it is a common landfill that only causes problems and where waste is ground in the most primitive way," the activists said, noting that problems would continue until the separation of biowaste started and that local government units should be forced to start separating it.

More news about waste management can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Possible New Consultants for INA?

ZAGREB, July 29, 2019 - Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Monday that information about a possible new government consultant for the buy-back of INA's shares from the Hungarian energy group MOL would be clearer after a meeting of the INA Advisory Committee on Wednesday.

Asked whether a new consultant would be selected in the process of buying back INA's shares, Ćorić said that the Advisory Committee was meeting on Wednesday and that after that the next steps would be known.

Last year the government selected the consortium of Morgan Stanley, Intesa Sanpaolo Group and Privredna Banka Zagreb (PBZ) to act as the government's investment advisor on the possible buy-back of INA's shares from MOL and the possible subsequent sale of those shares to a new strategic partner. The consortium's offer for this task was €8 million.

The Nova TV commercial television channel said on Sunday that the Advisory Committee would select a new consultant who would conduct a deep scan of INA and that the task could possibly be given to the Lazard firm.

Asked why the consortium failed to calculate INA's worth, Ćorić said that "disputes emerged regarding certain activities" and the task was not completed.

Ćorić asserted that it was realistic for the government to make an offer based on the results of the analysis and for the other side to then react to that bid. He added that a decision on the buy-back would only be known in the final phase.

"The buyer Croatia and the seller MOL have to agree on a price," he added.

In response to reporters' remarks that this could burden relations considering that the Hungarians wanted to be involved in the LNG Terminal on Krk island, Ćorić said that these were two separate matters. One refers to relations between Croatia and a private company whereas the matter of the LNG terminal refers to relations between the two countries.

"Croatia is interested in a partnership regarding the LNG terminal and not only with Hungary," he said, adding that Croatia wanted to retain a dominant role in the LNG terminal as its majority owner.

"We have a Hungarian bid to purchase 25% of the terminal. As far as we are concerned, negotiations on this matter are contingent primarily on the lease of the terminal's capacity," Ćorić said.

Asked whether the government was satisfied with the way INA was being managed, Ćorić said that the fact that the government wanted to buy back MOL's stake in INA spoke for itself.

In the meantime, communication has improved while in the future decisions regarding investments, primarily in the refinery business, are essential, he said.

More news about the INA-MOL issue can be found in the Business section.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Goal to Separate 50% of Waste by 2020 Unlikely

ZAGREB, July 17, 2019 - Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić on Wednesday said that Croatia did not embark on resolving the problem of separating waste and a circular economy on time, hence the aim of separating 50% of waste by the end of 2020 is "very ambitious."

"Have in mind that certain local governments like the one in Prelog and Krk embarked in a positive direction a long time ago and the fact is that they separate more than 50% of their waste as a result," said Ćorić after an inner cabinet meeting.

He added that others did not embark on time to resolve the problem of separating waste and a circular economy which is why the aim of separating 50% of waste by the end of 2020 is "very ambitious."

"What we are doing in the ministry and the Environment Protection Fund, through advertising tenders and education, is to have as much separation as possible," he added.

The Europe 2020 development strategy, as one of three fundamental priorities for the development of the EU, proposes sustainable growth, promoting the efficient exploitation of resources, that it is greener and more competitive. The focal point is the transition from the existing linear economy to a circular one, an economic model that ensures sustainable management of resources and extending the life of materials and products.

More environmental news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Water Supply, Wastewater System to Be Improved in Dalmatian Towns

ZAGREB, July 13, 2019 - The water supply and wastewater management system in the towns of Trilj, Otok and Dicmo in the Split hinterland will be reconstructed and improved by the implementation of a 248 million kuna project co-funded by the European Union, and to this end two agreements were signed in Trilj on Saturday.

Under this scheme, 133 million kuna will be set aside as non-repayable funds from the EU Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014 - 2020 .

The water network and sewerage pipes as well as wastewater treatment facilities in the Trilj-Otok-Dicmo agglomeration will be reconstructed and extended in compliance with the relevant EU directives.

Attending the ceremony, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković underscored the importance of the project for the Cetinska Krajina region.

He also cited figures on a rise in the number of contracts concluded by Croatia on EU-funded projects.

During the term of this government, contracts have been concluded for 70% of EU funds as against 9% at the start of the term, and that means 7.5 billion kuna, said the premier.

Of that amount, 2.6 billion has been absorbed, and this will also accelerate as now large-scale projects are in the pipeline, according to the premier's explanation.

All that brings about palpable effects for the quality of life of citizens, he added.

Trilj Mayor Ivan Šipić said that the project would help to revive the region and create hundreds of jobs.

More news about EU funds can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Recycling of Plastic Products a Priority for Croatia

ZAGREB, May 21, 2019 - Addressing a conference on plastic as a challenge of the circular economy, Croatian Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Tuesday that the recycling of plastic and other materials was a priority while the head of the Croatian Greenpeace office, Zoran Tomić, said that the country's presidency of the EU in 2020 provided an opportunity "to show leadership in that area as well."

Twenty percent of Croatia's GDP is generated by tourism and the country can beat its rivals only with a healthy and clean environment, Ćorić said, recalling that more than 37% of Croatia's land territory was covered by the NATURA 2000 programme.

"That is why all types of recycling, not only of plastic... but other materials as well, are a priority and must be a priority in the period to come," Ćorić said at the conference, organised by the Croatian Waste Management Association (HUGO), a member of the International Solid Waste Association.

Ćorić said that by entering the EU Croatia had assumed the obligation to start collecting separately 50% of paper, glass, metal and plastic waste by the end of 2020, that is, 60% of such waste by the end of 2022.

The Environment and Energy Ministry is fully committed to that goal, but achieving it depends on the behaviour of all social stakeholders, notably local government units and citizens, said Ćorić.

He recalled that every year Europe generated around 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, of which only 30% was collected while the rest stayed in the environment.

"We have to deal with that problem successfully in the future," he stressed, adding that his ministry fully supported the EU's policy of not using plastic in situations where it was not necessary.

"Croatia and its Environment and Energy Ministry support the goal of building into new products a minimum 10 million tonnes of recycled plastic by 2025, making all plastic packaging in the EU reusable and recyclable by 2030 and making the recycling rate exceed 50% as well as increasing the EU's sorting and recycling capacity four times compared to the current capacity," Ćorić said.

As for the EU directive on reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment and the plan to ban certain plastic products such as single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds and straws, Ćorić said that long-term effects would definitely be positive.

He said that his ministry was working intensively with the Croatian Chamber of Commerce on modernising the secondary raw material market and defining technological requirements for individual types of waste to facilitate its sale and that work was underway on amendments concerning packaging waste in order to improve system efficiency.

The head of the Greenpeace office in Croatia, Zoran Tomić, underlined the importance of protecting the Adriatic from plastic waste.

Commenting on the charging of a fee on plastic bags in Croatia, he said that rules on collecting the fee were largely not observed, that there was no set price and that the thickness of bags was also a problem because the lightest bags were exempt from the fee.

"By introducing the mandatory fee in 2002 Ireland has managed to reduce the use of light plastic bags by 90%," he said, adding that Greenpeace activists believed that with the current rules in force, Croatia would not be able to achieve the goal of reducing the use of plastic bags by the end of the year, which was why they had launched a petition to ban light plastic bags which had been signed by more than 40,000 people so far.

More news about environmental protection can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Flood Protection Measures in Place, 2018 Water Levels Not Expected

ZAGREB, May 16, 2019 - Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Thursday that flood protection measures were in place in areas which the flood wave was getting closer to and that last year's record-high water levels were not expected in Hrvatska Dubica and Jasenovac this year.

Answering reporters' questions about the areas where flood protection measures had been in force in the past few days, Ćorić expressed confidence that the high tide in the areas of Karlovac and Hrvatska Kostajnica had passed.

"The water level of most rivers was falling during the night. The areas that will now be under pressure are those south of Hrvatska Kostajnica, namely Dubica and Jasenovac," said Ćorić, adding that flood protection measures were in place in those areas.

"Last year's water levels of more than 900 centimetres are not expected and we believe there will be no major problems," said Ćorić, adding that he was satisfied with the flood protection measures in Hrvatska Kostajnica and Karlovac.

"Citizens, too, agree that compared to previous years, this year we had very good results in protecting properties from floods, I'm satisfied and grateful to the Croatian army, firefighting units and all other relevant institutions," he said.

Addressing a government session later in the day, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who visited the flooded areas of Karlovac and Sisak-Moslavina counties, said that the flood protection system functioned very well compared to previous years.

More news about floods in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Flooding in Karlovac Under Control, Kostajnica in Danger

ZAGREB, May 14, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday commented on the threat of flooding in some parts of the country following heavy rainfall in the last few days.

He said he was in contact with Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić and Interior Minister Davor Božinović, as well as with the head of Karlovac County, Damir Jelić.

"As I understand, based on the information from the ground, the situation in Karlovac seems to be under control. The focus now is on Hrvatska Kostajnica," the PM said.

Plenković announced that Minister Ćorić would visit Hrvatska Kostajnica in the afternoon to inspect the situation. He said that the experience with previous floods, the laws and technical measures that have been adopted and the investments undertaken in that regard already made a difference compared to last year.

An emergency has been declared in Hrvatska Kostajnica, about 90 km southeast of Zagreb where the water level of the Una river has reached 419 centimetres and is expected to reach 500 cm, 37 cm below the maximum recorded in 1955.

The head of the local civil protection service, Milko Prpić, told Hina on Tuesday morning that people and their property were not threatened so far.

Meanwhile, the situation in the flooded areas of neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina has gradually returned to normal. The situation remains difficult in Prijedor and Sanski Most in the northwest of the country where the overflowing of the Sana river is threatening hundreds of residential and business properties.

More news about floods can be found in the Politics section.

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