Montenegro to invite bids for gas, oil concessions

PODGORICA, July 25 Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:24pm EDT

PODGORICA, July 25 (Reuters) - Montenegro's economy minister said on Thursday the government will invite bids next month for exploration and exploitation of oil and natural gas off its southern Adriatic coast.

"The tender for exploration of 13 blocks, covering an area of 3,000 square kilometres, will be opened until February," Vladimir Kavaric told reporters after the cabinet session.

In 2011, 15 international companies expressed interest in searching for oil and gas in Montenegro as it moves to lessen dependence on imports.

The government said that concessions at locations that prove promising will be awarded for a period of 30 years.

The tiny Balkan country, which became independent in 2006, has no oil production, but based on unprocessed and fragmented data, it could cover its oil and gas needs from own resources, the ministry had earlier said.

The need for new energy sources is acute across the Balkans, a region that has lacked investment in capacity for nearly two decades due to wars and political turmoil.

A joint venture between Russia's Neftegazinkor, a unit of state-owned Zarubezhneft, and Serbian oil firm NIS, have started exploring oilfields in neighbouring Bosnia.

Croatia also plans to sign agreements worth millions of dollars in 2014 for exploration and exploitation of gas and oil in the Adriatic and onshore, Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak said earlier in July. (Reporting by Petar Komnenic; Writing by Maja Zuvela, editing by William Hardy)