ZAGREB Jan 21 Croatia will publish tenders for offshore gas and oil exploration in the central and southern Adriatic in the second quarter of this year, probably in April, after a survey revealed promising deposits there, its economy minister said.
"Before that, we will define the concession blocks which we will offer to all the companies interested for gas and oil exploration and exploitation in the Adriatic," the minister, Ivan Vrdoljak, said on Tuesday.
"This is an extremely important project which could turn Croatia into an important energy hub," Vrdoljak said.
He made the comments after Norwegian company Spectrum this week completed a five-month seismic survey off Croatia.
"Croatia has all the prerequisites for a successful tender, including new hydrocarbon systems and a moderate sea depth," Spectrum's Chief Executive Rune Eng was quoted as saying in a statement released by the economy ministry.
Spectrum officials were not available for immediate comment.
The economy ministry also said it would open a data room in February for access by companies interested in Adriatic Sea exploration. The processing of data that resulted from the Adriatic survey will be completed in April.
"It is evident that there are promising deposits of hydrocarbons (in the Adriatic) and we hope to have the first commercial quantities of gas and oil ready in 2019-20," Vrdoljak said.
Croatia currently meets some 60-65 percent of its annual natural gas needs from its own resources in the northern Adriatic and onshore in the north of the country. Vrdoljak recently said he believed it could become a gas exporter in several years.
At present Croatia, the newest European Union member, imports some 80 percent of its annual oil products needs.