by Ivo JAKOVLJEVIC
Not only was officially, the longer and circuitous, and consequently less profitable route of the pipeline from Constanta through Hungary to Trieste set aside, and not only has that contract confirmed the value of the Adriatic pipeline as the shortest route for transport of Kazakhstan, Russian and Caspian oil to the largest importer of the "black gold" in the world, Western and Central Europe, but in a way it also strengthened Russian, American and EU interest in the full takeover of INA [Croatian national oil company] and JANAF [Adriatic oil pipeline] as key levers of western strategy in the construction of a new Euro-Asian oil network.
If the Croatian authorities agree to sell INA and JANAF and convert Omisalj port into a new large spot-market for oil in the Mediterranean, they will have to not only secure strict measures for protection of environment along the new pipeline corridor, but also offer a holistic solution for substitution of the tourist potentials of Omisalj, Malinska, Opatija, Lovran, and almost the whole Kvarner region!
The mentioned contract is only, namely, the final phase of the dramatic change in the energy interests of great powers, which has its origin in the discovery of large new reserves of oil in the Caspian basin and in Kazakhstan, and even China, and in strategic and long-term interests of the West to reduce the importance of OPEC and secure supplies for EU from an alternative network, further to the north, and finalization of "ground-level works" with assistance of wars from the Balkans, Chechnya, and Afghanistan to Kurdistan, Iraq and Palestine.
One should recall that Milosevic did not end up in the Hague only as a war criminal, but above all because with his policies he stood in the way of a new network of Euro-Asian oil pipelines. His political fate was sealed in Zagreb, where two years ago a large ministerial-business conference of the EU INOGATE program was held. A hundred days later, Milosevic was not in power anymore, and at the time of the signing of a new oil pipeline from Constanta to Trieste he was already on the way to the Hague, supposedly by chance.
The Economy Ministry and the American Trade and Development Agency signed yesterday a contract about financing of a feasibility study for the oil pipeline from Constanta via Omisalj to Trieste. The pipeline would open the cheapest route for oil from the Caspian source to European and other international consumers.
Through TDA, the US administration donated $202,000, while "HLP Parsons", the company responsible for the feasibility study, will secure another $100,800. The feasibility study should be competed by November 2003.
As the recently resigned economy minister Hrvoje Vukovic emphasized during the signing ceremony, the study will assess an alternative and more profitable route for the pipeline in comparison with the one that was considered in the first study and which went around Yugoslavia. Since the political situation in Yugoslavia has changed in the meantime, the experts believe that routing of the pipeline through Yugoslavia would be more profitable and will shorten the distance from Romania to Sisak and Croatia. The pipeline will supply oil refineries in Pancevo and Novi Sad, in Bosanski Brod, and Croatia, and Western Europe. JANAF system will be used, which means that large investments in the new capacities will not be necessary. Only a hundred kilometers stretch from Omisalj to Trieste would be constructed from scratch. The corridor of the new highway Rijeka-Trieste would be used for the construction of that part of the pipeline.
During the signing ceremony it was emphasized that inclusion and exploitation of the JANAF system would allow transit and export of about 30 million of tons of oil every year, shorten the route, and provide supplies for six oil refineries, but the oil pipeline Constanta-Pancevo-Omisalj-Trieste does not exclude the existing Druzba Adria. The contract was signed, besides Croatian representatives, by the representatives of Romania and FR Yugoslavia, as well as the US ambassador in Croatia Lawrence G. Rossin and TDA representative Edward Cabot.