Croatia published an international tender for oil and gas exploration blocks in the Adriatic on Wednesday, hoping to attract major oil firms and start production in five years despite protests from local environmental groups, Reuters reported on April 2.
The tender will run for seven months, and the government is expected to award concessions in early 2015 at the latest. New oil and gas fields should help the European Union's latest member reduce dependence on energy imports.
"We have been underexplored for the last 20 years, particularly offshore," Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak told executives of around 30 oil and gas companies at a conference.
Croatia expects investments worth some $2.5 billion over the next five years in exploration activities. Local media have mentioned companies including Exxon, Shell and Eni's unit Agip as likely participants, but the government declined to confirm that.
"The fact that we've prepared this project shows that Croatia can be a reliable partner who can smartly manage its resources," Vrdoljak said.
The tender envisages 29 block areas for exploration and future exploitation, eight in the north and 21 in central and southern Adriatic. The size of one block ranges between 1,000 to 1,600 square kilometres.
Each bidder will be able to compete for an unlimited number of blocks, Barbara Doric, the head of Croatia's hydrocarbons agency, which prepared the tender, told Reuters.
Copyright: Reuters, 2014