ZAGREB, January 15, 2019 – Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Coric said on Tuesday that the government wanted a successful and profitable INA, adding that this required restructuring of this oil company’s refineries. He also spoke about the LNG terminal.
“The aim of the government is to ensure a successful, profitable and vertically integrated INA. A successful and efficient INA has no alternative,” Ćorić told a press conference dedicated to energy issues.
He, however, added that this wish does not correspond with the present state of INA’s oil refineries, as the one at Rijeka operates at 70 to 80 percent capacity and the one at Sisak at 30 percent.
Ćorić said that the planned transformation of the Sisak plant would ensure the largest possible employment and that it was tied to investment in the Rijeka refinery and other business segments. He noted that the conversion of the Sisak refinery into an industrial centre has been decided by INA’s management and supervisory boards and it “has no alternative, regardless of the size of the government stake in INA.”
Asked if he had any message for the workers at Sisak, he said that their future would not be uncertain and that under the business plan 40 to 50 percent of them would be retained at the Sisak complex.
Ćorić said that the government had not abandoned its idea to buy back the Hungarian energy group MOL’s stake in INA, noting that this was a very complex process.
Asked if the proposed legislative changes could make it possible for MOL to acquire a majority stake in INA, Ćorić said that if MOL or any other company had such an intention it would first have to present its long-term plan for INA to the government to see that this would not have an adverse effect on the country’s energy stability.
The proposed amendments to the INA Privatisation Act are under public consultation until January 22. Their purpose is to align this law with EU legislation.
When explicitly asked if there was a deal with the Hungarians to leave INA to them, Ćorić replied in the negative.
Speaking of Croatia’s plan to build an LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk, Ćorić recalled that the state-owned power company HEP had booked 520 million cubic metres of the terminal’s capacity, while the booking of 1.5 billion cubic metres was required to make the terminal profitable, and that two letters of intent had come from Hungary inquiring about the possibility of entering the ownership structure of the future terminal.
Despite the modest interest in the booking, Ćorić said that “as long as this government is in office, the LNG will be without an alternative the dominant energy project.”
He announced further talks with the Hungarians, saying that this was a strategic project, not only for Croatia, which could become increasingly dependent on gas imports, but also for Europe, especially for countries such as Hungary and Ukraine.
Asked about the possibility of renewing oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the Adriatic, Ćorić said that there were indeed indications of considerable quantities of gas existing in the Adriatic, that he was “neither in favour nor against” and that a consensual decision should be taken on this issue.
More news on the LNG terminal project can be found in the Business section.