The Croatian government adopted a conclusion on Wednesday to step up preparations for and the implementation of the first stage of the construction of a floating LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk.
The terminal is a strategic investment project for the state, important for diversifying natural gas supplies and increasing their security in Southeast European countries. It was included in a liquefied natural gas storage strategy adopted by the European Commission in February.
Economy Minister Tomislav Panenic said this was a very important project for the European Union and Croatia. He added that construction consisted of four stages and that Croatia must focus on preparing the first one, which does not rule out the implementation of the other three if they are cost-effective. The government tasked several ministries and the LNG Hrvatska company with the job.
"This is a clear message concerning the LNG (terminal). Congratulations! I hope that in 60 to 90 days we can sign (contracts) with investors," said Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic.
The government also gave its consent for contracts on hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation on land on six locations. Panenic was authorised to sign a contract with Croatia's INA and Nigeria's Oando PLC for one field each and with Canada's Vermilion for four.
He said the contracts were important for Croatia because they envisaged investments worth EUR 88 million. "I expect the exploration to kickstart local economy and create jobs, notably in Slavonia."
The government endorsed a new public procurement bill in which, among other things, the lowest price criterion is replaced by the economically most favourable offer.
Also endorsed was a new concessions bill. Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said it introduced a balanced and flexible legal framework for the allocation of concessions as well as the definition of Croatia's strategic interest in concessions on the construction and management of motorways, railways and the oil and gas transfer infrastructure, as well as on the transfer and distribution of electricity.
A special law is to be passed for a concession defined as strategic to facilitate more efficient oversight, Maric said.
The government session began in the usual manner and was attended by all ministers as well as the two deputy PMs, Tomislav Karamarko and Bozo Petrov, despite Karamarko's HDZ-led coalition's motion for Oreskovic's impeachment.