| DUBROVNIK, Croatia, July 12
DUBROVNIK, Croatia, July 12 Croatia can play a
vital role in ensuring regional energy security by diversifying
supply options for European countries and allowing them to
reduce their dependence on Russian gas, U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State Victoria Nuland said.
A prolonged price row between Russia and Ukraine has wider
energy implications for Europe, which gets a third of its gas
needs from Russia, and almost half of these supplies via
Ukraine. Central and southeast Europe could face higher gas
prices and potential shortages this winter.
Nuland said the price dispute, Moscow's annexation of Crimea
and fighting in eastern Ukraine underlined the energy security
threat facing Europe.
"Now, more than ever, we have to work to secure Europe's
energy security, by ensuring diversity of supply, building up
diverse flow capabilities and capacities and building up deeper
networks throughout the continent," she said at the Croatia
Forum diplomatic conference in Dubrovnik late on Friday.
"Croatia has an essential role to play, as an energy
security hub for the 21st century... You (Croatia) have
spectacular assets to do that so long you as you make smart
choices as you are going forward," Nuland said.
Croatia, which joined the European Union last year, in April
published a tender for gas and oil exploration off the Adriatic
coast and will next week invite bidders to express interest for
on-shore exploration of potential fields in the country's north.
It recently got a location permit that will allow a
long-delayed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project in the
northern Adriatic to move ahead.
(Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic)