ZAGREB, March 3 European energy firms said on
Tuesday they were confident about getting a location permit
early next year to build an Adriatic liquefied natural gas (LNG)
terminal aimed at supplying central and western Europe.
"We're confident that we can get the location permit at the
beginning of 2010 and then start building so that the terminal
could become operational on target, in 2014," the head of the
Adria LNG consortium, Michael Mertl, told an energy conference
Analysts and energy officials have said that sticking to the
timetable was essential if the terminal was to compete, as a
similar project is being prepared in Italy's port of Trieste.
Earlier on Tuesday, Croatia and Hungary signed an agreement
to connect their natural gas pipelines by mid-2011 to ensure a
steady supply for the region. The new pipeline would allow
two-way shipments after the LNG terminal is built.
Adria LNG now comprises Germany's E.ON-Ruhrgas EONG.DE,
Austria's OMV (OMVV.VI), France's Total (TOTF.PA), German
utility RWE's subsidiary Transgas (RWEG.DE) and Geoplin gas
company from Slovenia.
Foreign investors have slated a 25-percent stake in the
consortium for Croatian partners. Those are expected to include
oil group INA INA.ZA HINAq.L, whose biggest single
shareholder is Hungary's MOL MOLB.BU, state power board HEP
and gas pipeline operator Plinacro.
"Croatian firms will join the consortium soon," state
secretary at Croatia's economy ministry, Leo Begovic, told the
The location permit depends on an environmental impact study
which the government must approve before the building starts.
Mertl said the consortium was preparing the study carefully
after an earlier oil pipeline project suffered due to local
to avoid bad experiences and failure an earlier oil pipeline
project suffered due to local environmental concerns.
The government took two years to choose the location for the
terminal, but analysts believe the project will now have a high
priority, following a gas crisis in January caused by the
dispute between Russia and Ukraine.
The terminal, likely to be built on the northern Adriatic
island of Krk, will have capacity of up to 15 billion cubic
metres (bcm) of gas per year. Croatia consumes about 3.2 bcm
The investment is worth some 800 million euros ($1.01
(Reporting by Igor Ilic; editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and