In a bid to reduce dependence on Russian gas, Austria, Croatia and the German region of Bavaria announced an energy-political partnership during a visit by Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder to Croatia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the northern Adriatic.
Dependent on Russian gas and strongly interconnected, Austria and Bavaria signed up for the partnership to reduce their shared dependence on Russian gas to allow for imports from global gas markets.
“The current energy challenges remind us that we need to work even more closely and coordinated at the European level to increase our resilience,” said Nehammer while visiting Krk on Thursday.
The Krk LNG terminal can regasify gas from countries like Qatar and the US, which is liquefied, supercooled and then shipped.
With an annual capacity of three billion cubic metres (bcm), the terminal will have its capacity doubled to more than six bcm, Croatia’s President Andrej Plenkovic explained.
In 2021, Austria imported about seven bcm worth of gas from Russia.
“For Bavaria’s long-term energy supply, we are also looking to the south. The goal is one pipeline for two substances – gas now, hydrogen in the future,” explained Bavaria’s Markus Söder.
Nehammer and Söder also affirmed their commitment to pushing for EU funding for the project. They said that existing frameworks like the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and REPowerEU – the EU’s plan to become independent of Russia – could provide funding.
Meanwhile, Plenković said the three governments would form a joint body to define further energy cooperation models, building gas pipelines and boosting the capacity of Croatia’s floating LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk, Jutarinji List reported.
“Our wish, in the spirit of European solidarity, is for gas and oil pipelines in Croatia to be of service to neighbouring countries. This initiative towards Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia, Germany, and Austria represents a concretisation of plans drafted by our experts,” Plenković said.
“In Croatia, we have to contribute not only to our own energy security but to that of neighbouring countries, including Germany and Austria,” he added.
Croatia had decided to boost the capacity of the LNG terminal on the island of Krk from 2.9 to 6.1 billion cubic metres of gas, double the annual need of Croatia’s households and industry combined, the prime minister added.
“The idea is to set priorities through mutual talks,” he said, explaining that the aim then is for the three governments to jointly apply for co-financing of such projects from the European Commission.
Plenković said in May Croatia could become an “energy hub in the northern Adriatic” for Central Europe, as the continent seeks to wean itself off Russian energy, mainly on the back of the LNG terminal.
(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | EURACTIV.de, Zoran Radosavljević | EURACTIV.com)