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Croatia in Talks With Exxon, Conoco, GE on Gas, Oil Exploration

Croatia, which is set to join the European Union in July, is in talks with Exxon Mobil Co. (XOM), ConocoPhillips (COP) and General Electric Co. (GE) on investment in oil and gas exploration in the Adriatic Sea.

“They are all interested, and they are all waiting for the government to pass the amended law on gas and oil research,” Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak said in an interview in Zagreb.

Gas consumption in the former Yugoslav region and Albania will double by 2020 to 11 billion cubic meters of gas a year, according to an October 2011 study by state-owned pipeline operator Plinacro d.o.o. Croatia wants to meet increased demand across the region and reduce European dependence on Russian gas.

The Adriatic nation needs investment to revive growth after four years of recession or stagnation. The government is expected to adopt amended laws on hydrocarbon research by June, Vrdoljak said.

INA Industrija Nafte d.d., Croatia’s largest refiner controlled by Hungary’s Mol Nyrt., so far has had a monopoly on gas and oil exploration in Croatia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmina Kuzmanovic in Zagreb at jkuzmanovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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