ZAGREB Dec 10 Croatia's Adriatic liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project got a new shareholders' structure following the recent withdrawal of a German partner, the Adria LNG consortium said on Thursday.
The Adria LNG consortium has been formed for building a terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk, which is planned to become operational in 2014.
"Following the decision of the German company RWE to withdraw from the project, a new shareholders's structure was adopted whereby RWE's 16.69 percent of participating interest was transferred to the remaining shareholders," a statement by the consortium said.
RWE withdrew in October citing its focus on other similar LNG projects in northern Europe.
Currently, Adria LNG consortium comprises Germany's E.ON-Ruhrgas EONG.DE, Austria's OMV (OMVV.VI), France's Total (TOTF.PA) and Geoplin from Slovenia.
"In the new structure E.ON-Ruhrgas has 39.17 percent, OMV 32.47 percent, Total 27.36 percent and Geoplin has 1 percent," the statement said.
The consortium said that the final investment decision was expected in 2011 when the building of the terminal should begin.
"Currently, we're in the final stage of the environmental impact assessment process. The next step is to obtain the location permit which is expected in the first quarter of 2010," the statement said.
Three Croatian energy firms -- oil group INA INA.ZA HINAq.L whose biggest shareholder is Hungary's MOL MOLB.BU, state power board HEP, and state gas pipeline operator Plinacro -- should have a 25-percent stake in the joint venture.
Their participation has been announced by officials more than a year ago, but the process of establishing a Croatian consortium that will then join the Adria LNG has been slow. It is still unclear when this will take place.
The capacity of the future terminal is planned at 15 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year. Croatia consumes some 3.2 bcm annually.
The target markets are countries in central and southeastern Europe, but also Italy.
In a recent interview with Reuters, the head of Adria LNG, Michael Mertl, said the planned pace of the project must not suffer any delay if it was to become operational on time, which was important given a looming strong competition from similar projects on the Italian side of the Adriatic. (Reporting by Igor Ilic; editing by James Jukwey)