Monday, 13 May 2019

500 Million Kuna EU Water Utilities Projects Presented

ZAGREB, May 13, 2019 - The Town of Ivanić-Grad on Monday presented water utilities projects to be financed with European Union funds valued at almost 500 million kuna and launched in cooperation with the Hrvatske Vode water management company.

The projects concern the construction of the Zagreb East regional water supply system, development of Ivanić-Grad's agglomeration, establishment of a modular wood-technology business incubator, and revitalisation of the Lonja river, Ivanić-Grad's town authorities said.

Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić underscored that several projects were being implemented in Ivanić-Grad and Zagreb County and that Hrvatske Vode and local government were cooperating well in that regard.

Minister Ćorić commented on media reports about utility companies allegedly considering the possibility of temporarily giving up on water-utility projects financed by the EU.

"Mistakes are possible during different phases in preparing documents, public procurement procedures and works... they aren't deliberate and the European Commission, which co-funds the majority of the projects, covering 85% of acceptable costs, wants these procedures to be conducted without any mistakes... the water-utilities sector, together with us, is trying to find a solution to obtain those funds," said Ćorić.

More news about water management in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Conference on Investing in Sustainability Held in Zagreb

ZAGREB, April 16, 2019 - Doing business in line with the goals of sustainable development is the only right path towards long-term market sustainability and successful operations, Environmental Protection and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said at the conference "Investing in sustainability", organised by Deloitte, the Croatian Employers Association (HUP) and the Croatian Global Compact Network in Zagreb on Tuesday.

Ćorić said that initiatives aimed at raising awareness of the importance of business sustainability should be welcomed.

He said that the government had introduced a number of measures to encourage sustainable business operations, including 300 million kuna worth of investments in renewable energy sources in the production sector in 2017 and a 170 million kuna tender, advertised this year, designed to increase energy efficiency in tourism.

HUP director Davor Majetić said that companies investing in sustainability were more competitive, more attractive on the financial market and to possible employees, and more interesting to buyers.

A partner at Deloitte, Verdana Jelušić, said that by investing in the sustainable development, economies increased their resilience to external shocks, notably in times of crisis.

The Zagreb conference on investing in sustainability is expected to include the presentation of the Green Frog awards to domestic and central European companies for the best non-financial report, to be awarded for the first time in Croatia for the entire territory of central Europe.

More news on sustainable development can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Sustainable Development Conference Held

ZAGREB, March 26, 2019 - Sustainable development is present-day society's obligation for what is coming and it must not become yet another platitude and formal meeting of imposed goals, it was said on Monday at a conference on sustainable development, organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

The conference was organised as Croatia is expected to present its first voluntary national overview on the realisation of 17 sustainable global development goals at a UN political forum to be held in July.

Environment Protection and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said the topics covered by those goals and the UN Agenda 2030, such as the right to clean water, sanitation, and climate change, were related to the activities and policies of his ministry.

He said sustainable development must not be a trend but the obligation of present-day society and everyone for what was coming.

"Supporting the sustainable does not mean proposing exclusionary solutions but taking society through a transformation towards stability, greater resilience and new solutions," Ćorić said, adding that thinking about sustainability meant creating synergy between different sectors.

He said his ministry supported sustainability in draft low-carbon and energy strategies as well as in a nationally integrated energy-climate plan. Attempts are being made to integrate every conclusion and plan into global documents, such as the Paris Agreement, while keeping in mind the EU's energy and climate objectives, he added.

HGK president Luka Burilović said sustainable development must not become yet another platitude and formal meeting of imposed goals, given that it would impact the national economy and environment as well as children.

Speaking of the national overview that Croatia will present to the UN, he said it covered the economic, social and environmental dimensions. "We will present our progress in education and healthcare, on the labour market and in terms of economic growth in general."

Burilović recalled that on the UN's 2018 sustainable development list, Croatia ranked 21st among 156 countries, rising 15 places.

In order to advance partnership and synergy, the HGK has decided to bring together all interested parties through the HGK_COR accelerator so they can contribute to the realisation of sustainable development goals.

The state secretary at the Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry, Spomenka Đurić, said the government set up the Sustainable Development National Council in January 2018 due to the complexity of the Agenda 2030 goals and its impact on economic and social change.

She said the Cohesion Policy, as the EU's main investment policy, also focused on sustainable development and improving the quality of living for all citizens, including investment in the scientific, broadband, business, energy, transport, environmental, social and education infrastructures.

To that end, nearly 86% of the funds available to Croatia from the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion has been advertised through February, 65% has been contracted in the amount of 4.4 billion euro, of which 15% has been paid to beneficiaries, she added.

More news about sustainable development can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Hungary Warming up to Croatian LNG Terminal?

ZAGREB, March 8, 2019 - Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto met with Croatian Minister of Environment and Energy Tomislav Ćorić in Budapest on Thursday, saying that Hungary's energy security would improve with a gas supply route from the south, presumably meaning the LNG terminal.

Both sides agreed that energy supply security in Central Europe remains one of the most important regional risks and they confirmed their commitment to deepening cooperation in the energy sector, the Hungarian ministry said in a statement quoted by MTI news agency. The statement said Hungary's energy security would greatly improve if it were able to get gas from the south.

Mr Szijjarto and his Croatian counterpart "acknowledged the importance of a final decision taken by the Croatian government on the construction of an LNG terminal on the island of Krk as well as the construction of a compressor station that would allow bidirectional operation of the gas interconnector between Hungary and Croatia," the statement said.

In late January, the Croatian government adopted a decision to finance the first stage of a floating LNG terminal on Krk, which is estimated at 234 million euro.

According to the government's decision, Croatia would secure 100 million euro from the state budget for the LNG terminal project, 50 million euro in 2019 and another 50 million euro in 2020, and before the payments are made, Croatia's electricity provider Hrvatska Elektroprivreda will secure loans to the LNG Hrvatska d.o.o. company to cover payments due in 2019.

The remaining funds of 32.6 million euro would be secured by LNG Hrvatska, Hrvatska Elektroprivreda and Plinacro.

The gas pipeline company Plinacro in February announced that the construction of the first compressor station for Croatia gas transportation system (KS1) was going according to plan. The value of that facility is estimated at 210 million kuna and the station could be up and running by the end of the year.

In addition to Plinacro's 75 bar transport system, the compressor station will enable an additional 500 million cubic metres of gas to be transported annually from Croatia to Hungary. Once the Omišalj-Zlobin pipeline is constructed that will connect the LNG terminal on Krk with Croatia's gas transportation system, it will be possible to transport 1.6 billion cubic metres of gas a year.

KS 1 is essential in the context of the Central and South Eastern Europe Energy Connectivity (CESEC) initiative and a Memorandum of Understanding between Croatia and Hungary was signed in that regard which led to an agreement on the establishment of two-way capacities on the existing interconnector between Croatia and Hungary on the Donji Miholjac - Dravaszerdahely route.

More news on the LNG terminal can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Twenty EU Environment Projects Presented

ZAGREB, February 12, 2019 - Twenty projects relating to environment and nature protection and climate action were presented at a conference in Zagreb on Tuesday. The environment projects are worth over 14 million euro, of which nine million is provided by the European Union.

The LIFE conference is organised by the Environment and Energy Ministry as a national contact point for the EU's LIFE Programme, State Secretary Mario Šiljeg said.

The purpose of the conference is to show that LIFE-funded projects are among the best ways to improve the implementation of environment and climate policies and a mechanism to achieve European and national goals.

The EU launched the LIFE Programme in 1992 to address challenges to the environment, nature and climate, and Croatia recognised its value even before it joined the EU. "This is not surprising given that the programme encourages an innovative approach and the application of new measures and methods," Šiljeg said.

As part of the LIFE Programme in Croatia, efforts are being made to protect the Drava river and its backwaters, improve biodiversity in wetlands, protect large wild animals such as lynx and bear, and take action against bird poaching.

"I am confident that all projects that are being implemented under the LIFE Programme will contribute to economic growth and sustainable development," Šiljeg said. "I am sure that already in April we will see progress in the participation of Croatian business entities in LIFE projects."

This year's tender for the LIFE Programme is expected to be opened in April and all those interested were invited to contact the Environment and Energy Ministry.

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

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Government Approves Financings for First Stage of LNG Terminal

ZAGREB, January 30, 2019 - Environment Protection and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić on Wednesday told a press conference that the operating costs of the LNG terminal on the island of Krk would be covered from an existing lease and security of supply fees (S.O.S fees).

Questioned by reporters following a cabinet meeting at which a decision was adopted on financing the first stage of a floating terminal project, whether there were any figures of the LNG terminal's business over the next 10 to 15 years, Ćorić said that he expects the terminal's operating costs to be settled from an existing lease and S.O.S. fees which will primarily depend on how negotiations between the terminal's owner - LNG Croatia - and potential future lessees would end.

"In that context, talks will continue over the next few weeks and months on that topic between our side and the Hungarian side, given the letters of intent that we received in the last phase of binding bids for the terminal's leasing. We believe that for that reason the S.O.S fee as of 1 January 2021 will have a minimum, if at all, effect on the price of gas in Croatia," Ćorić said.

If the terminal's lease remains at the current 520 million cubic metres of gas, the S.O.S fee will impact the price of gas by one percentage point compared to the current market price of gas, which means an amount of about 35 kuna a year for a household with an average consumption, he added.

"We firmly believe that in the coming weeks and months more LNG gas will be leased and in that context the share of the S.O.S. fee will decrease over the next two years remaining before the terminal starts operating, said Ćorić.

He noted that since the start of this year, Plinacro's fee for gas transmission through Croatia was reduced by 20 percentage points and that the total burden of the S.O.S fee, which should be operational as of 1 January 2021, for example on the price of gas in December of the previous year, will amount to about 0.1%.

Reporters asked Ćorić about communication with the local community given the protests against the construction of a floating terminal.

To the residents of Omišalj and Krk who are concerned about the ecological aspect and the age of the LNG conversion tanker, he said the age of the ship could definitely not be a problem and that sea water would not be used on the regasification ship, so chlorine would not be released into the sea.

He added that the LNG terminal on Krk island would in no way endanger the environment and that it would bring the local community financial benefits.

"The capacity of the LNG terminal on Krk island, 2.6 billion cubic metres, is actually the capacity of Croatia's total annual consumption. This project isn't necessary only to Croatia. It also enables the surrounding countries to diversify their supply routes and make gas procurement for their markets safe."

As for making the project commercial, Ćorić said the government believed in a positive outcome of talks with potential partners.

Event with the current 520 million reserved cubic metres, the financial construction for both investors is financially justified and brings, along with the introduction of the security of supply fee, a very acceptable contribution rate for both investors -- HEP and Plinacro.

Asked about the influence of TurkStream, which targets the markets of Hungary and Austria, on the business activities of the terminal on the Krk island, Ćorić said that the prices of gas from the LNG terminal were not 30% higher than the prices of gas from classic gas pipelines, as suggested by a reporter.

The minister warned that Qatar was leaving OPEC precisely because it had decided to increase the production of LNG gas and the presence on the global market, adding that the production in the United States has been growing by the day. The minister also said that the price of LNG gas would correspond to the price of natural gas.

More news on Croatia’s LNG terminal can be found in the Business section.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Croatia Can Become Self-Sufficient in Electricity Production

ZAGREB, January 30, 2019 - Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Tuesday that in the next 30 years Croatia could become self-sufficient in electricity production and eventually start exporting electricity.

Ćorić made the statement at the conference "Towards a new energy strategy", organised by the Jutarnji List daily. He noted that for a country the size of Croatia it was difficult to achieve full energy independence, especially with fossil fuels. "What we can do over the next 10 or 20 or 30 years is to try to fully meet our needs from our own electricity production and eventually start exporting, because we have sufficient renewable energy potential," the minister said.

Ćorić said he expected Parliament to adopt the new national energy strategy by the end of the second quarter, adding that the Green Paper of the Hrvoje Požar Energy Institute, which had been under public consultation in the last few months, served as the platform for the preparation of the strategy.

Ćorić noted that the Green Paper saw the largest potential in renewable energy sources, primarily the wind and sun. As for gas infrastructure, he said that gas consumption was expected to stagnate and decrease by 2050.

Sabina Škrtić, a board member of the ENNA Group, said that the Green Paper offered an inappropriate energy mix without sufficiently recognising waste energy and gas infrastructure. "The Green Paper should try to take advantage of the best that Croatia has and offer an optimum mix that will, first and foremost, lead to competitiveness," Škrtić said.

The CEO of RWE Energija, Zlatko Miliša, said that solar energy could be the "golden goose" for Croatia given that it has over 50 percent more hours of sunshine than some countries in continental Europe. "Each feasibility study of ours starts off with 50 percent better results," Miliša said. He noted that costs of technology in this sector are rapidly falling, which opens the possibility of operating solar power plants without subsidies.

"With the existing costs of electricity, projects for the construction of solar power plants along the Adriatic coast can become profitable within six to eight years without any subsidies," Miliša estimated.

Petar Sprčić, a board member of the state-owned power company HEP, said he was pleased that the strategy defined self-sufficiency among its goals and that Croatia was starting to use its own resources.

Minister Ćorić said that the construction of an LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk would bring about security in terms of diversifying supply routes and would become commercial over time. He said he believed Croatia would find commercial interest in it, primarily in capacity booking by companies from neighbouring countries.

Ćorić said that from the point of view of energy security and the geopolitical point of view, this was one of the few projects that could put Croatia on the map of Europe and the world. "I'm not sure if there is an energy project of such potential in our neighbourhood," he said.

Ćorić said he believed that capacity booking would increase with time from the present 520 million cubic metres out of the total of 2.6 billion cubic metres. He cited several letters of intent from Hungarian companies and the possible interest of Slovenian companies.

Sandor Fasimon, the CEO of the INA oil and gas company, which has made an offer for the lease of capacity of the future LNG terminal, said he understood Croatian government efforts about this project because more options and alternative sources would lead to greater security of supply.

More news on the energy issues in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Hydrocarbon Exploration Won't Hurt Croatian Tourism

ZAGREB, January 26, 2019 - Environmental Protection and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said in Split on Friday the planned exploration of hydrocarbons in the Dinaric Alps would not affect the development of Croatian tourism.

"Such exploration should not and there's no reason for it to harm tourism," he said responding to questions from the press.

He met with representatives of Šibenik-Knin, Zadar, Lika-Senj and Karlovac countries in Šibenik on Thursday, when it was officially announced that a public tender will be advertised soon for licences for oil and gas exploration in the Dinarides.

Ćorić said initial exploration and exploitation in the first stage, "which isn't invasive at all, lasts five to seven years" and that "the whole process will include clear communication with local communities."

He said some local communities did not want such exploration because they wanted to develop rural tourism, yet that there were others which, "after the preliminary findings, would certainly assess that exploration makes sense."

Ćorić's ministry said yesterday local government "has the biggest direct benefit from hydrocarbon exploration."

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

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

INA Restructuring and LNG Terminal Remain a Priority

ZAGREB, January 15, 2019 - Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Coric said on Tuesday that the government wanted a successful and profitable INA, adding that this required restructuring of this oil company's refineries. He also spoke about the LNG terminal.

"The aim of the government is to ensure a successful, profitable and vertically integrated INA. A successful and efficient INA has no alternative," Ćorić told a press conference dedicated to energy issues.

He, however, added that this wish does not correspond with the present state of INA's oil refineries, as the one at Rijeka operates at 70 to 80 percent capacity and the one at Sisak at 30 percent.

Ćorić said that the planned transformation of the Sisak plant would ensure the largest possible employment and that it was tied to investment in the Rijeka refinery and other business segments. He noted that the conversion of the Sisak refinery into an industrial centre has been decided by INA's management and supervisory boards and it "has no alternative, regardless of the size of the government stake in INA."

Asked if he had any message for the workers at Sisak, he said that their future would not be uncertain and that under the business plan 40 to 50 percent of them would be retained at the Sisak complex.

Ćorić said that the government had not abandoned its idea to buy back the Hungarian energy group MOL's stake in INA, noting that this was a very complex process.

Asked if the proposed legislative changes could make it possible for MOL to acquire a majority stake in INA, Ćorić said that if MOL or any other company had such an intention it would first have to present its long-term plan for INA to the government to see that this would not have an adverse effect on the country's energy stability.

The proposed amendments to the INA Privatisation Act are under public consultation until January 22. Their purpose is to align this law with EU legislation.

When explicitly asked if there was a deal with the Hungarians to leave INA to them, Ćorić replied in the negative.

Speaking of Croatia's plan to build an LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk, Ćorić recalled that the state-owned power company HEP had booked 520 million cubic metres of the terminal's capacity, while the booking of 1.5 billion cubic metres was required to make the terminal profitable, and that two letters of intent had come from Hungary inquiring about the possibility of entering the ownership structure of the future terminal.

Despite the modest interest in the booking, Ćorić said that "as long as this government is in office, the LNG will be without an alternative the dominant energy project."

He announced further talks with the Hungarians, saying that this was a strategic project, not only for Croatia, which could become increasingly dependent on gas imports, but also for Europe, especially for countries such as Hungary and Ukraine.

Asked about the possibility of renewing oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the Adriatic, Ćorić said that there were indeed indications of considerable quantities of gas existing in the Adriatic, that he was "neither in favour nor against" and that a consensual decision should be taken on this issue.

More news on the LNG terminal project can be found in the Business section.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Waste Management in Croatia Needs Improvement

ZAGREB, November 28, 2018 - Energy and Environment Minister Tomislav Ćorić on Tuesday underscored that at the end of 2017, only 28% of waste was separated and that by the end of 2022 that has to be 60%, adding that the waste management in Croatia needed improvement.

"That's a huge job and that is something that the Environment and Energy Ministry or any other institution in Croatia cannot achieve on its own and we all have to do that together," Ćorić said addressing a conference on waste management in Croatia attended by mayors, business people and government representatives.

We wish to stress that 2018 and the second half of 2017 was a period in which we accelerated our efforts and I believe that in 2019 we will be even faster in our activities in the ministry and the Environment Protection Fund regarding waste management, he said.

Ćorić added that at that accelerated pace, Croatia can achieve a 50% rate of separated waste by 2020 and 60% by 2022. He added that he was certain that the European Commission will give Croatia an incentive in that regard.

Asked by reporters what towns were the most successful in separating waste, Ćorić said that he didn't want to single out anyone in particular. However, northwest Croatia is a leader in some matters and Slavonski Brod and the island of Krk are exemplary in that regard.

With regard to possible penalties, Ćorić explained that that depends on an entire set of categories and that no-one has made any calculations yet. Once the European Commission reacts negatively to data from a member state, it determines penalties based on GDP and other parameters.

Ćorić underscored that the total quantity of waste at the end of 2017 was more than 1.7 million tonnes. There were 88 recycling yards in Croatia then, 5 sorting stations, 31 facilities for special categories of waste, 11 compost yards and 12 bio-gas plants for the production of electricity.

He added that 401 local governments had adopted waste management plans which means that about 50 still haven't done their job and that is why they weren't in a position to apply for EU funding to finance infrastructure requirements.

For more on the waste management in Croatia, click here.

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