21/07/2021 – Event / Gas / Croatia / Professionals / LNG / Conference
Recently concluded gas professionals event in Croatia seen as important scientific and expert meeting of minds
The 36th International Scientific & Expert Meeting of Gas Professionals – alongside an international exhibition of gas equipment and technologies – was successfully held in Opatija, Croatia, last month. Organised by the Croatian Gas Centre Ltd and Croatian Gas Association (CGA), the three-day event welcomed around 370 attendees from 18 European countries, as well as from the USA, Canada and China.
After two years of the coronavirus pandemic, favourable epidemiological conditions and the easing of restrictions limiting the holding of meetings finally meant that gas and energy professionals from Croatia and abroad could once more gather at their traditional and beautiful destination of Opatija on Kvarner Gulf in the northern Adriatic. In adherence with social-distancing norms, the conference programme at the Congress Centre of the Grand Hotel Adriatic was also transmitted live online from the main congress hall into the other three halls, in which simultaneous spoken translations of the meeting were provided.
Over the three days in Opatija, approximately 370 attendees met from 18 European countries, alongside from other countries including the USA, Canada and China. The event was attended by gas and energy professionals, managers from leading European energy companies, scientists from renowned Croatian and European universities, representatives from the transport industry, as well as gas suppliers, producers and distributors, including representatives from large industrial gas consumers, representatives from manufacturers, and gas equipment representatives both domestically and abroad. Over 150 gas and energy companies and organisations were represented (55 from abroad), with 24 exhibitors (nine from abroad) presenting their products and services in the exhibition area in front of the congress hall.
The meeting was organised under the high patronage of the Croatian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Croatian Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets, and the Croatian Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure.
The meeting was also supported by the following sponsors: INA (Industrija nafte d.d.), Plinacro d.o.o., HEP d.d., Monter-strojarske montaze d.d., LNG Croatia LLC, Prvo plinarsko drustvo d.o.o., Međimurje-plin d.o.o., and EEX.
Meanwhile, the show’s co-organisers were Podzemno skladiste plina d.o.o., EVN Croatia plin d.o.o., Termoplin d.o.o. Varazdin and ATO Inzenjering d.o.o.
Over the three days of the professional gathering, a total of 42 scientific and professional papers were presented (of which two were invited to hold a speech, with nine papers included in the poster session), 13 roundtable discussions held covering 10 topical units, and three interesting panel discussions.
At the opening of the gathering, the President of the Croatian Gas Association, Assistant Professor Dr Dalibor Pudic extended his initial greetings to invitees and those present. He expressed appreciation to all those providing high patronage, alongside those acting as sponsors, co-organisers, participants and journalists, who contributed to holding the gathering and without which the entire event would not be possible.
Moreover, Dr Pudic pointed out since the last held gathering in Opatija, Croatia can boast of having two new liquid natural gas filling stations and two new compressed natural gas filling stations, as well as having completed one of the largest projects concerning which the gathering has been addressing for more than 30 years – the LNG terminal on the island of Krk. He pointed out that the Croatian Gas Association supports decarbonisation and that natural gas combined with other gases – in providing less emissions – would have an important role in decarbonisation, with proof to be found in the fact that the gathering has for more than a decade presented papers related to hydrogen.
The President of the Croatian Gas Association greeted dignitaries and all participants, and then proceeded to invite the envoy of the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Kristina Posilovic, to officially open the gathering.
The EU continues to count on gas
Kristina Posilovic – advisor to the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Tomislav Coric – opened the 36th International Scientific & Expert Meeting of Gas Professionals. At the start of the talk, she expressed her satisfaction with initial operation of the company LNG Croatia LLC, its commercial activities and efforts in improving services.
She also addressed the new European legislation mentioning that the proportion of electrical energy produced from renewable sources in the EU energy mix during last year for the first time exceeded production from fossil fuels.
Additionally, Ms. Posilovic cited data relating to the fall in consumption of electricity and gas compared to 2019 in the EU, as well as gas production last year decreasing by almost 23 per cent, which is the situation in Croatia too. She pointed out the importance of the European Green Deal, which provides guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and finally leading to climate neutrality, where importance is given to the potential of hydrogen, and for which the European Commission has prepared a revision of current rules on gas and hydrogen in order to ensure the planned reduction of CO2 emissions. She added that the package, which includes a revision of the directive and regulation on gas, is also an effort by the European Commission to encourage decarbonisation of the gas market and the introduction of gases from renewable sources onto the market, while eliminating regulatory obstacles.
These future activities by the EU send a clear message that, despite numerous social challenges, it continues to count on gas and the multipurpose potential of constructed and associated infrastructure, said Ms. Posilovic.
Boosting energy efficiency in buildings
Bojan Linardic from the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets highlighted the energy goals of the EU for buildings. Specifically, a very indicative piece of data is that 83 per cent of buildings in Croatia fail to meet stipulated requirements of thermal protection and have large thermal losses. Accordingly, the percentage of consumption in buildings in terms of total consumption is greater that 40 per cent.
Mr Linardic emphasised the importance of the need to increase the energy efficiency of such buildings, where the energy renewal of residential and public buildings is to become one of the main preconditions for achieving EU green goals. Implementing energy efficiency measures in the construction industry is expected to result in a reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030 to more than 36 per cent, which will provide overall energy savings in other sectors.
HEP: Essential role of gas in the low carbon energy transition
The President of the HEP Management Board, Frane Barbaric, pointed out in his introductory note that following the gathering in Opatija, which is the most important event in the gas profession in Croatia, confirmation of the gas sector as having an essential and inevitable role in the low carbon energy transition is expected, where HEP will also provide its full contribution. Also, the company HEP-Plin, as an important stakeholder in the Croatian gas sector, and after acquiring a number of smaller distributors and suppliers (in Virovitica, Vukovar, Krapina and Daruvar), has become the largest gas distributor in Croatia considering the length of the network.
Mr Barbaric also mentioned that HEP has also become a large gas consumer due to the large quantities it utilises in its thermal power stations, which is also in the plans for the future period, and the use of hydrogen in those facilities is also currently under consideration.
Plinacro: Boosting efficiency and connectivity of Croatia’s gas transport system
Member of the Management Board at the company Plinacro d.o.o., Daria Krsticevic, highlighted the role of the national operator in the gas transport system which last year constructed the Omisalj-Zlobin gas pipeline, connecting the LNG terminal on Krk onto the Croatian gas system.
Additionally, Plinacro has ensured two-way transport on gas pipelines towards Slovenia and Hungary, as requested by the EU, and is intensively preparing construction of the southern gas interconnection between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in order to increase efficiency of the gas transport system and create conditions for expanding the gas distribution network in the southern region of Croatia, said Daria Krsticevic, member of the Management Board.
As a responsible corporate entity, Plinacro is intensively following new trends and preparing the technical foundations for transporting hydrogen through its gas pipelines.
INA: New exploration projects in Croatia and overseas
At the start of his address to participants, Nikola Misetic, operational director of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production at INA (Industrija nafte d.d.), pointed out the perennial trend in decreasing production occurring in increasingly old gas fields. Consequently, INA has decided to accelerate certain projects in the exploration of new gas fields because it intends to significantly increase production in Croatia and abroad.
In the coming autumn, INA plans to drill two new wells in the Adriatic, and then further expand exploration. On mainland Croatia, in Medimurje, INA conducts exploration independently. On transborder concessions INA is with Hungary’s MOL, while in Egypt it has received five concessions in the Nile delta, in an gas-rich area, said the director Nikola Misetic.
PSP: Flawless performance in gas storage
The Director of the company Podzemno skladiste plina (PSP), Vlado Vlasic, said that the national operator of the gas storage system in previous storage years had flawlessly performed the fundamental task of not having a single delay in fulfilling all contractual obligations towards uses, and in line with their nominations.
The firm’s Director also detailed the development investment part of business activities and informed the gathered representatives of the professional public that in May this year PSP obtained from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy a permit for storing natural gas at the Grubisno polje exploitation field.
Mr Vlasic advised that Okoli underground gas storage is currently in the process of injecting gas – and, as of 16th June, the facility had approximately 219 million cubic metres of gas (approx. 2100 kW). Although Underground Gas Storage has been making intensive plans for the next heating season, all its efforts and investments are already directed to the new regulation period from 1st April 2022 to 31 March 2027. Hence, Amendments to the Rules on Use of the Gas Storage System have been in force since 27 May 2021, for which Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA) provided its approval after the public discussion.
LNG Croatia: Operating schedule at Krk’s new terminal
Sinisa Kovac from the company LNG Croatia LLC described the schedule for commencing operation of the LNG terminal on the island of Krk. According to his statements, at the start of this year, the terminal received approval from large global energy companies.
Specifically, until now, seven specialised ships with a total of 600 million cubic metres of gas have arrived onto Krk, meaning the terminal has become the largest gas entry point in Croatia, as well as a reliable and stable supply source of the particular energy. The terminal operates in a safe manner, reliably and without any difficulties.
Switching from coal and oil to cleaner-burning gas
After extending his greetings to attendees, the President of the Croatian Gas Association (CGA), Assist Prof Dr Dalibor Pudic, pointed out that approximately 61 per cent of the consumption of primary energy in the world is met from coal and oil, compared to only five per cent of energy sources that have less emissions than gas. He emphasised that today’s global CO2 emissions amount to approximately 35 billion tons. And the fact that an increasing number of countries are closing down their coal burning power stations opened immense opportunities for the use of renewable energy sources and gas to enable a switch from oil and coal as quickly as possible.
The President of the Croatian Gas Association provided interesting data on hydrogen production, where 48 per cent of it is obtained from natural gas, 30 per cent from oil and 18 per cent from coal, and only four per cent via electrolysis for electricity. Hence, there is much room for hydrogen to become greener. Assist. Prof. Dalibor Pudic expressed that, despite the intensive expansion of renewable energy sources and the goal of the EU to become climate neutral by 2050, natural gas as a fossil fuel with least CO2 emissions continues to have a good future and conditions for increasing consumption.
IGU: The future of gas and gas infrastructure in the EU
Gas will continue to be an important form of energy in the future, said Andrea Stegher, current vice-president and future president of the International Gas Union (IGU), in his speech, entitled ‘The Future of Gas and Gas Infrastructure in the EU with an Emphasis on a Low Carbon Gases’.
He pointed out the great importance of innovation in reducing gas emissions (foremost CO2), which causes global warming, and climate change, as well as achieving the planned goals of the EU wherein by 2050 the bloc of nations has committed to have become carbon neutral. The planned blending of natural gas with hydrogen will undoubtedly take place in the future, thereby further reducing gas emissions during consumption.
Mr Stegher also noted that global gas consumption continues to increase, for instance, the annual increase in gas consumption in China exceeds Croatia’s total consumption.
Biden’s moratorium may make US import-dependent again
The second invited talk was held by Ariel Cohen, PhD, a senior fellow from the Atlantic Council and director of the Energy, Growth and Security Program before the International Tax and Investment Center. He questions justification of the decision by the US President, Joe Biden, to place a moratorium on new land leases owned by federal states for exploration and production of oil and gas on land and at sea. While the decision is temporary, Mr Cohen opined that it would have a long-term unfavourable impact on American production, especially if the minister of the US Department of the Interior declares it as permanent.
Specifically, Mr Cohen said that shale deposits are important for American production of oil and gas, and enabled the US to achieve status of a large gas exporter. For such a reason, this new situation may again make American consumers dependent on imports and that many Americans may lose their jobs, he predicted. On the other hand, Mr Cohen told attendees of the 36th meeting of gas professionals that he sees carbon neutrality by 2050 in terms of the construction of new nuclear power plants or increasing gas consumption. He also highlighted that, from an American perspective, the EU greatly relies on imports of Russian gas.
Natural gas: Bridge towards decarbonisation and viability of hydrogen
In the next talk, Laura Bosetti from Eurogas, an association representing the gas sector before EU institutions, mentioned that the energy industry will have key role in commencing reductions of gas emissions which affect global warming and climate change, but what needs to be considered is the cost of investments on the EU’s path to planned decarbonisation by 2050.
Hydrogen is becoming increasingly important in reducing emissions, hence in the coming period the European Commission will surely focus on its use, she expressed.
This view was seconded by Branka Belamaric from Plinacro, who spoke of the guidelines and mechanisms in implementing an energy transition of the EU with a special emphasis on the gas sector. As one of the key document, she focused on the Hydrogen Strategy for Climate-Neutral Europe.
Such views were expounded upon by Ljubisa Petkovic from Siemens Energy AG, whose thesis concerned the role of natural gas as a form of energy with the least emissions, making it the best bridge towards the decarbonisation of industries, with a clear tendency that synergy of gas and green hydrogen would contribute to meeting industry needs in the next 30 years. He pointed out that pilot projects for such operational facilities already exist, but the current challenge is in driving down the high price of green hydrogen.
The director of the company Viessmann Croatia, Vladimir Turina, announced a new era in hydrogen use. Some of the firm’s products are already for using natural gas mixed with 20-30 per cent hydrogen. He pointed out that the production of so-called green hydrogen, with neutral characteristics in terms of greenhouse gases, continues to be expensive, so it should be used where it is most effective. He also announced many Viessmann products that use clean hydrogen would come onto the market in two-to-three years, but cautioned that he expects the products to be more expensive than existing devices and expects government incentives.
Meanwhile, Massimo Pardocchi from Bilfinger presented the production programme of the company and energy integrated solutions for achieving zero emissions. Bilfinger is able to ensure the engineering, design and construction of facilities and infrastructure aimed at reducing, capturing and storing carbon, including the integration of hydrogen production which he presented using an example from the Netherlands.
Small-scale H2 facilities are part of the production programme at Siemens d.o.o., with Danijel Buksa presenting the potential of such investments. The technology for facilities of the future is where the focus should be. He noted that chains of the hydrogen energy industry and the LNG industry are naturally linked. Hydrogen energy, he added, is not a competitor nor revolutionist in the LNG industry, but is instead a promoter in the use of natural gas, whereas the LNG industry has the potential and advantage for developing the hydrogen energy industry. Both LNG and hydrogen, he noted, are sources of ‘clean energy’ in supplying fuels for production and transport.
Heating equipment must adapt to new energy trends
Manufacturers of heating equipment must adapt to new energy trends, which will be a big challenge in the future, cautioned the director of Valliant Croatia, Mario Opacak. What technologies will become dominant, which forms of energy will dominate, with what speed and in what direction will the heating equipment market be transformed? Answers to these questions require investment into R&D, while new production capacities are a precondition for survival. Some of the novelties Mr Opacak presented from the company’s production programme include a new generation of gas condensation devices and the announcement of soon commencing construction of the largest Valliant factory for producing heat pumps.
Meanwhile, Ante Prusina from the company Weishaupt Zagreb showed the possibilities of using gas from renewable energy sources in burners and heating systems. The first step towards fully transferring to gases sourced from renewable energy sources in burners and heating systems is to gradually introduce them into the combustion technique. This is possible even now when methane, hydrogen and certain other synthetic gases can be mixed in specific proportions with natural gas in burners and condensation boilers that are currently in the production program of Weishaupt.
Still room for further gas growth in Croatia
During the media conference organised for journalists, the President of the Croatian Gas Association (CGA), Assist Prof, Dalibor Pudić, PhD said that there is still room for the growth of gas consumption in Croatia, as well as the reduction of harmful emissions of CO2 from replacement forms of energy. He especially pointed out the possibility of further developing gas infrastructure and noted the trend for larger transit of LNG through Croatia, which also implies the possibility of lower gas prices for citizens of the country.
Liberalisation of the market means that from 1st April 2021, citizens will be able to purchase gas from their supplier of choice. In the process, some companies, obliged to provide gas supplies as a public service, have retained their supply area; some have expanded, while others have lost out. Nonetheless, local companies that are no longer able to provide public services due to not being selected in public tenders have concluded market-based agreements with domicile households. Hence, at the start of April, 86.4 per cent of households have used public services directed at supplying gas, whereas 13.6 per cent of the gas was bought under market conditions.
Speaking of trends in consolidation and acquisitions in gas distribution and the supply of such forms of energy, Assist. Prof. Dr Dalibor Pudic said that he expects a continuation of the consolidation process. Previously, almost every city and town, as well as municipality, had its own distribution, with prices decided by local self-government units. Local authorities are no longer able to influence prices because the Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA) determines it. The President of the Croatian Gas Association (CGA) also pointed out that in recent times, two LNG filling stations for vehicles and two CNG filling stations have been built in Croatia. However, he believes that we should be looking at the example set by neighbouring Italy where there are over a thousand of these filling stations and approximately one million vehicles running on natural gas. As to a media question of whether natural gas as a fossil fuel has any future or will it be replaced with hydrogen or methane, the President of the CGA replied that hydrogen will certainly have an important role in the future, but as to which source it comes from is also important. The only so-called green hydrogen is hydrogen produced from electricity generated from renewable sources, which for now covers a relatively small proportion of new demand for energy. That is why the future of green hydrogen will not have an important role, unless the category includes hydrogen produced from electricity generated at thermal power plants using systems for capturing and storing CO2.
The President of the Hydrocarbon Agency, Marijan Krpan, in his presentation cautioned against the continually decrease in reserves of domestic gas over the last 15 years – a negative trend that is continuing. The underlying reason is the age of the gas fields, which is especially evident in the north Adriatic, and also insufficient discoveries of significant hydrocarbon deposits. Furthermore, final exploitation of gas from land fields is less than that of global practice. Given the necessity of using gas in the transitional period towards green forms of energy, there is a need to discover new gas fields while adhering to the highest standards of environmental protection, which is possible with modern technology.
Gas exploration and production projects
In an interesting first panel discussion entitled ‘Projects in the Exploitation and Production of Natural Gas’, Marijan Krpan pointed out that exploitation and production of natural gas in Croatia certainly does have a future in the energy mix leading up to 2030, and given that after that period it is difficult to make predictions, it should be utilised as much as possible in this and the next decade. He also provided insight into the fact that the International Energy Association (IEA) and one of the largest petroleum companies, BP, are against further expanding exploitation and production of fossil fuels.
Some new gas deposits in Croatia have already been discovered and are currently in progress is the process of utilisation, while discoveries of additional fields are also expected after representatives of INA announced the establishment of numerous new wells. The Director of Petroleum Upstream Development at INA, Jerko Jelic Balta, said that gas in Croatia has a position on the market – especially as a replacement for coal and fuel oil in thermal power stations, for which further consideration should be given. This replacement process would depend on the development technology, as well as prices of hydrogen and biomethane, hence it is essential to continue natural gas exploration and production projects. At the same time, INA is endeavouring to revitalise some old gas fields in order to increase production.
Prof Dr Daria Karasalihovic Sedlar from the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering, pointed out that Croatia should utilise its already discovered fields because hydrogen will probably become an important form of energy only after 2040. Consideration is also given to the possibility of storing hydrogen in exhausted land and sea gas fields, but this will require much research and investment in developing technologies. She added that they have conducted at the faculty research into the possibility of utilising gas platforms and deposits in the Adriatic once gas deposits are exhausted.
New pipelines and LNG terminal
Robert Bošnjak from Plinacro gave a presentation on the potential offered form the Southern Gas Corridor as part of an energy system for a fair transition of the Western Balkans. He presented the importance of guidelines for implementing the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans and an analysis of possibilities from the Southern Gas Corridor, of which the Southern Interconnection for Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina is an integral part, as support in the possible transition from a coal-based energy system to a green one.
Sinisa Kovac, from LNG Croatia, highlighted that the LNG Terminal on Krk was completed towards the end of last year, despite the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and earthquakes. Though many were sceptical, the final outcome showed that the terminal has become commercially viable, because a number of domestic and foreign companies have already reserved a majority of its capacity for the first seven years. The Krk terminal fits into the EU’s efforts to diversify sources and directions of natural gas supplies, especially given that it is one of the endpoints of the north-south gas corridor, as well as one of the prioritised projects for connecting Central and Southeast Europe in terms of energy, and is also harmonised with the EU strategy for LNG and the storage of gas. That is why the EU has supported its construction with 101.4 million euros.
Plinacro successfully completed construction of the main Zlobin-Omišalj gas pipeline as part of the LNG Terminal project on the island of Krk. Project Manager, Aleksandar Karee, explained all phases of construction which were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trends of the global gas market
Gergely Molnar from the International Energy Agency (IEA) presented an overview of trends on the global gas market. Due to difficulties posed by the pandemic, global demand for gas fell last year by approximately 2.5 per cent (roughly 100 billion cubic metres). This is the largest recorded fall in history to date, yet demand for gas for electricity production remained the same due to changes in fuel.
The globalisation of gas trading advanced with an increase in improved liquidity, whereas prices underwent record falls and extreme volatility. The crisis caused by the pandemic and a well-supplied market halted significant investments, while gas market reforms and initiatives for clean gas policies peaked on the main consumer markets.
The expectation is that global demand for gas will recover – i.e., compensate levels from 2019 so that gas consumption this year will likely rise by about 3.5 per cent, as announced in Paris.
Towards a regional gas market
Pal Sagvari from the Hungarian Regulatory Body for Energy and Utility Services said that the Hungarian market is interested in the most effective operation of terminals and is ready to explore common advantages of this new source of gas supply. He proposed commencing development of a regional gas market, and for the terminal to become commercially attractive and more accessible to other countries in the region – including Ukraine. Creating an LNG corridor from Croatia through Hungary towards the greater region may also lead to justifying terminal capacity increases, better prices and a more successful terminal business, added Mr Sagvari.
Developing the regional market requires collaboration among our regulatory authorities, transport system operators and the gas market, said Daniel Garai, president of the management board at Central Eastern European Gas Exchange. He called upon stakeholders to elaborate their visions and maps of possible market integrations, given that it is also essential to consider common advantages and benefits. He mentioned that the Hungarian regulatory body is ready to commence joint action and that such collaboration is frequent such as with, for instance, the electricity market. The benefits of such market integration are well known within the EU. Mr Garai alo referred to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Finland, which have already combined their gas markets for the common benefit.
Tomislav Bencic from Termoplin, presented a system for mandatory energy efficiency and complexity as well as legal obligations. The Energy Efficiency Act has brought about new obligations for gas suppliers. This will lead to cost increases in their business operations, which might very well lead to increases in gas prices and negatively impact their competitiveness.
Future expansions and adaptions to infrastructure
On the panel discussion titled Current State and Trends on the Natural Gas Market and Future Expectations, which focused on development potentials of the LNG Terminal on Krk and its role in the future gas infrastructure of Europe, Hrvoje Krhen, director of LNG Croatia, pointed out that 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas had already passed through the terminal this year, of which 600 million was directed to consumers in Croatia.
Srecko Ezgeta, president of the management board at the Gradska plinara Bjelovar and president of the Association of Gas Suppliers and Distributors before the Croatian Chamber of Economy, added that the European Council has held discussions on adopting a framework for accepting strategic projects that the EU would finance with 5.5 billion euros by 2027. He asked whether consideration is given perhaps to using European money to build a new gas pipeline towards Slovenia, expand the terminal in the future or adapt the existing gas pipelines for transporting hydrogen. Mr Krhen replied that the terminal began operating just a few months ago, hence the priority is to now expand the use of LNG in maritime and road transport. He also said that there are stipulated standards for transporting hydrogen that must be met.
Marko Blazevic from HEP-Trgovina added that hydrogen is a form of energy that awaits us in the coming decades, yet there is no need to place emphasis on it at the moment. However, in order to be able to transport it in the future, technical rules should already be set up so that new equipment to be incorporated will also conform for transporting hydrogen, he recommended.
Tomislav Jurekovic, president of the Governing Council at the Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA), also pointed out the existence of the European Regulation, which no longer enables financing of infrastructure for natural gas aided by European channels, but permits financing of gas pipelines for transporting hydrogen.
Utilisation of gas in transport sector
In the introduction of her talk, Adriana Grzunov from the Croatian Chamber of Economy presented the latest overviews of emissions from the transport industry, alongside incentive measures in various developed EU countries. She also provided an overview of the actual situation with the utilisation of natural gas in transport in Croatia, warning of the possibility of increased consumption. She pointed out that the EU currently has about 4,000 CNG filling stations and about 350 LNG filling stations.
The terminal for LNG on the island of Krk will have an important role in the future development of utilising LNG as a fuel in maritime and road transport in the Republic of Croatia, said Ivan Kapucija from LNG Croatia. He highlighted the potential of the regional market for LNG as a fuel for maritime, road, river and railway transport. The first so-called LNG ship-to-ship transfer for an Italian buyer has already taken place from the LNG Terminal on the island of Krk, confirming the commercial potential of the terminal in the area of maritime bunkering. The opening of the filling station for heavy trucks is planned for the start of next year.
The panel discussion entitled ‘Development of Sustainable Transport powered by CNG, LNG and LPG’ was addressed by a number of experts who pointed out the need for greater use of natural gas in transport in Croatia as an economically and ecologically suitable transitional fuel, which has also been recognised in the 2030 Croatian Energy Development Strategy.
Croatia has sufficient proprietary reserves and production capacities to meet national requirements for gas supplies in transport, where the increased use of gas, which is to replace benzine and diesel fuels, will reduce CO2 emissions in the respective sector from the current 95 per cent in road transport and almost 99 per cent in maritime transport. That is why EU member states have largely provided incentives for the use of natural gas in transport in the form of subsidies for procurement of vehicles, co-financing the construction of filling stations and subsidies for motorway tolls.
New challenges facing gas distributors
Nikica Dujmovic from Gradska plinara Zagreb spoke about the pandemic and earthquakes as new challenges facing gas distributors. For certain period of time after the earthquake, parts of the distribution system were inaccessible or accessible at some risk to employees, due to impassability of roadways and damage to buildings. Meanwhile, epidemiological measures due to the coronavirus made everyday work and the scheduling of operational personal difficult. These situations imposed on distribution system operators the need to revise existing rules and pass new guidelines for modernisation of the surveillance and management system within the gas system for future crisis situations.
Ms. Dujmovic mentioned that the specific steps necessary to improve the system in order to enable better and more effective remote management whenever necessary. An interesting fact is that damage from the two largest earthquakes happened mostly due to bending and movement, and occurred only in internal gas installations in a number of damaged buildings. However, given that Gradska plinara Zagreb uses only steel piping with large mechanical rigidity, there was no cracking of pipes or gas meters, nor did gas leaks occur. In most cases, gas was switched off for consumers on account of damage to chimneys, and to avoid possible gas poisoning.
New innovative technologies
Possible uses of bio LNG in the so-called skid-units was presented by Nikolas Bruyas from the company Prodeval, which specialises in such production and technology. Bio LNG will certainly have an important role in the future of transport as a fuel produced from renewable energy sources, he said, while examples of good practices with skid-units already exist in neighbouring Italy.
An interesting presentation was held with an overview of the EU and US legislative frameworks in relation to capturing, utilisation and storage of CO2 – prepared by a group of experts from the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering in Zagreb. Filip Vodopic warned that the EU Green Deal obliges a reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030 by 50 per cent with respect to 1990 levels and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. For this reason, the technology for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is seen as a potentially strong means in combating climate change within the transition period to decarbonisation of gas. In Mr Vodopic’s words, Croatia has potential to construct underground CO2 storages in a number of locations, and the technology can also be used in the Plomin thermal power stations – the only such facility in Croatia that uses coal as a fuel. It involves an expensive system that, according to experts, becomes economically viable only if the price of emission units (permitting emission of one tone of CO2 within a certain time period) in the European ETS increases from 80 to 100 euros per ton. That price since 2018 has been continually increasing, and stood at about 52 euros as of 22nd May this year. However, by mid-June it had fallen to 45 euros per ton.
Mr Vodopic mentioned that the EU, on the other hand, has an innovation fund from which it can obtain grants for financing CCUS technologies, and the money can be ensured from some other European funds as well. He pointed out that the country selling its approved emission units from the ETS to anyone releasing CO2 must invest half of the money into technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which should also be taken into account. In addition, the country has to introduce additional incentives for the use of such technologies. According to the scenario of accelerated transition from the Croatian Low Carbon Strategy, CCUS technologies must be used in thermal power stations running on gas and in the cement industry. Given that this has still not been accepted, perhaps CCUS technology can also be applied at the Plomin thermal power station, which would enable it to continue operating if it collects all CO2 which it releases, said Vodopic. These are questions that the industry should debate in detail.
Igor Grozdanic, MSc, from Zagreb company Turbomehanika, added that some European countries, such as Poland and Germany, continue to preserve their coal mines and oil mining, due to the large number of jobs, hence neither coal nor natural gas will be eliminated from European policies and its markets. It involves an out of the ordinary political issue because all key elements must be equally presented: technology, the ecology, climate, energy and economics. He highlighted that the EU not long ago increased the obligatory share of renewable energy sources in transport from 14 per cent by 2030, whereas in Croatia that proportion is currently a maximum of 1.5 per cent. If natural gas is no longer to be used, we will not be able to achieve the obligatory 14 per cent – however, it is good that non-adherence to the obligation currently does not inflict penalties, he noted. We recall that in 2018, nine Croatian cities bought 70 or so buses running on diesel fuel, non on gas, electricity or hydrogen. Currently, the EU is moving towards clear fuels and has announced that in the future it will subsidise only buses running on hydrogen or electricity, said Mr Grozdanic.
At the end of the large three-day gas event, Assist Prof Dalibor Pudić, PhD, president of the CGA, extended his appreciation to all participants, moderators and sponsors on a successfully held conference and exhibition, which has shown that the energy paradigm for gas is quickly changing, as is its role in the period transitioning to low-carbon neutrality – especially with the prospect of mixing the resource with other gases such as biogas and hydrogen.
The new 37th International Scientific Expert Meeting of Gas Professionals will be held from 4-6 May 2022 in Opatija, with an alternative period taking place in mid-June, depending on the epidemiological situation.
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