The United States strongly supports the construction of a floating LNG terminal at Krk in Croatia, and this project is not aimed against Russia, but is aimed at strengthening the energy security of Croatia and Europe, the US State Department's Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Amos Hochstein, said in Zagreb on Thursday.
Hochstein discussed the matter with leaders of the new Croatian government on Wednesday, saying that they were ready to accelerate the project and "move it from the talking about it stage to the actual implementation stage."
The government later said that building a floating terminal was one of its priorities and that it could be fully operational in two years' time.
"That's a great commercial and geopolitical opportunity for Croatia and most importantly a great moment of opportunity for Croatia to be able to diversify an important region in Europe that has suffered from energy being used as a political weapon against it," Hochstein told Hina on Thursday.
He said that the LNG terminal project was not aimed against Russia as the only supplier of gas to Southeast Europe, adding that he believed that Russian companies should continue to sell gas to the region, but by playing "within the rules of the game."
"What I'm suggesting here is not anti-Russian at all. On the contrary, I think Russia has the opportunity to continue to be a major supplier here. Why should countries not pursue options that bring them flexibility, that allow them to compete?" the US official said.
Hochstein said that the US was ready to supply gas to the future LNG terminal, and that gas could also be bought in Australia, Qatar and other countries that develop their gas resources. "You can only buy gas if you have infrastructure to receive it," he noted.
Hochstein said that it was too early to discuss the capacity of the Krk terminal and whether Croatia would lease it or buy it, stressing that in his opinion a floating terminal was a better option at first stage than an onshore facility. "You lease it, you don't own it, if it's not the right option, it can go away, it can sail away."
He said that the capacity should be decided based on talks with buyers from Croatia and abroad.