EU member state prepares to help fill regional void left by Russian cuts while retaining a focus on green power
The war in Ukraine exposed the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, but an oil pipeline conceived as a Yugoslav rival to Soviet infrastructure could help Croatia emerge as a winner from Europe’s energy crisis. Zagreb is working on plans that could double the capacity of the Adria oil pipeline to 2mn tonnes a month. That would be a lifeline for fellow EU member states Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia as well as Serbia and Bosnia, which have terminals and refineries that connect to the pipeline and are trying to reduce dependence on Russian gas. It is also increasing its capacity to import liquefied natural gas from the current 2.9bn cubic metres a year to 6.1 bcm/y, while a massive investment cycle in wind and solar power will allow it to become a net energy exporter, analysts said.
“Croatia has a good chance to be the energy gateway for a number of neighbouring central European countries in the current energy geopolitical situation and difficulties of energy imports from Russia,” said Igor Dekanić, a professor at the geology and mining faculty of Zagreb university. Croatia had begun to diversify its energy sources long before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, importing a growing amount of oil from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan while reducing oil flows from Russia to just over a quarter of its total imports in 2020, the lowest level since 2003.