Croatia to Publish Tender for Adriatic Oil, Gas April 2

Croatia, which is seeking new revenue to revive its economy, will publish a tender to explore the Adriatic Sea for oil and gas on April 2, a government official said.

Tenders will go out for 29 blocks of the Adriatic seabed and will be open for six months, Tomislav Cerovec, the Economy Ministry’s spokesman, said in a phone interview in Zagreb.

The blocks were drawn after Norway’s seismic-data company Spectrum ASA last year completed the imaging of 35,000 square kilometers (13,500 square miles) of Croatia’s seabed. The government opened a data room for possible investors on March 10.

Croatia, which joined the European Union in July, needs investment to revive growth after five years of economic recession. The country revised laws on hydrocarbon research in June, easing the process for gaining permits in a bid to tap more of its own resources and reduce dependence on Russian gas.

About 20 companies so far have applied for access to the data room, Cerovec said. Alexander Dyukov, the chief executive officer of Gazprom Neft, expressed interest in the tender during his meeting with Croatian Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak on March 14 in Zagreb, according to Cerovec.

Croatia may hold as much oil and gas in the Adriatic Sea as Italy does in the same branch of the Mediterranean, Vrdoljak said on Oct. 29, citing initial results of the seismic mapping.

In an interview in April, Vrdoljak said Croatia has talked with Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips and General Electric Co. on investing in oil and gas exploration in the Adriatic Sea.

INA Industrija Nafte d.d., Croatia’s largest refiner, operates offshore platforms in the northern Adriatic with Edison SpA and Eni. Zagreb-based INA, controlled by Hungary’s Mol Nyrt., has so far had a monopoly on exploration in Croatia.

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