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Croatia Launches Oil Exploration with 5 Blocks, $75M Investment

Adriatic Sea Exploration

After sidelining offshore exploration in the Adriatic Sea, the Croatian government has awarded two firms contracts for four onshore oil and gas exploration blocks in the country’s north and east, securing an initial $75 million in investment.

Four blocks went to Alberta-based Vermillion and one block went to the firm INA, of which Zagreb holds a sizable amount of shares that do not constitute a majority stake. The Croatian company’s biggest shareholder is Hungarian MOL.

"We have secured an investment worth 500 million kuna ($75 million) and much more if oil or gas are found,” Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic told reporters at a press event.

"Croatia needs investments and this is a step towards a better investment climate.”

The contract allows the two companies to explore the blocks for a period of five years and gives them concessions for 25 years if they discover commercially viable fields.

The Nigerian player Oando Pic also won concessions in a contract slated to be signed next week.

Led by the Minister of the Economy, Tomislav Panenic, the government will offer a series of new tenders, possible next month, according to Reuters.

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Croatian officials under a previous executive administration had planned to offer offshore drilling contracts to companies interested in exploring the Adriatic Sea, but the new center-right government has taken a stand against the proposal, citing concerns that the ventures would disrupt the nation’s lucrative tourism sector.

"There are no plans for oil exploration in the Adriatic," Panenic said.

Krk, one of Croatia’s many islands, will host a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) terminal set to be completed in 2018. The hub will serve as a launch pad for deliveries to Central and Eastern European States in a time when the European Union seeks a new source of energy as its political fallout with Russia escalates.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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