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The first year of Krk LNG Terminal – interview with Managing Director Hrvoje Krhen

Hrvoje Krhen will be one of the speakers of the Budapest LNG Summit, to be held on 6 December 2021.

Croatia’s Krk LNG terminal is among a few LNG import facilities in the entire Central and Sout-Eastern European region. It delivers gas to the Croatian national transmission network while being connected with Slovenia, Italy, Hungary and other EU countries via non-EU Member States such as Serbia and Montenegro.

The terminal has been included in the lists of European Projects of Common Interest since 2013, given its strategic importance for the diversification of natural gas supplies into Central and South-Eastern Europe.

Since the launch of its operations at the beginning of 2021, the Krk terminal has made significant contributions to the country’s gas system and even enabled Croatia’s very first energy export, officially stepping into the strategic role of the CEE region’s energy supplier.

Hrvoje Krhen, Managing Director of LNG Croatia, the operator of the terminal spoke with CEENERGYNEWS evaluating the first year of operations and Krk’s role in ensuring energy security not only at the national but also at the regional level, as well as the methane emissions control mechanisms and more.

“In the gas year, 2020-2021, the LNG terminal in Croatia delivered more than 1,120,000,000 cubic metres of natural gas to the gas transmission system, thus achieving about 50 per cent of all quantities of natural gas into the Croatian gas transmission system,” Mr Krhen points out. “This fact is even more important if we consider that in the first three months of the gas year 2020-2021, the terminal did not work at all.”

“Also due to the LNG terminal, for the first time in the history of Croatia, gas was exported on the interconnection with Hungary, which proved the great importance of the LNG terminal not only in the gas supply of Croatia but also in this part of Europe.”

krk lng terminal

That Croatia’s LNG terminal is important to the security of the region’s energy supply has been reinforced amidst Europe’s current energy crunch which has left the continent exposed to soaring electricity and gas prices with some countries facing fuel shortages and fears of blackouts.

“Given this year’s situation with natural gas prices as well as possible shortages of natural gas, the new LNG terminal in Croatia proved to be a new additional supply route for this part of Europe, especially if you consider that it is designed to accommodate all sizes of LNG ships and from all parts of the world thus contributing greatly in this unusual situation regarding the supply of natural gas,” underlines Mr Krhen.

In the broader context of climate crisis where the European Union is striving to decarbonise its energy sector and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2050, the Krk LNG terminal proves to be an efficient alternative for coal or other heavy fuel-dependent economies and households of CEE region, according to Mr Krhen.

“Given that the terminal represents a new supply route for Croatia as well as for this part of Europe, now natural gas can reach those consumers who still use oil or coal as fuel and the households who have so far used other heating sources, in larger quantities, easier and faster,” he says.

Being one of the major sources of methane emissions, the gas system has already sparked the intent for concerted action globally. The announcement made by the leaders of the European Union and the United States during and before the COP26 summit on joining efforts to curb methane is one of the most recent examples of the decision-makers waking up to the problem.

Another one is the European Commission’s newly adopted methane emissions reduction strategy and the need for gas operators to eliminate it from their activities.

Against this background, how Krk LNG terminal oversees and manages methane emissions from its operations remains the key issue.

“The whole process from discharging the LNG to its regasification and sending it to the transmission system is strictly controlled as well as the boil of gas management system in such a way that not a single gram of LNG or its combustion products is emitted into the environment if it is not needed for safety aspects.”

“All equipment on board uses natural gas for its work and all emissions emitted into the air are carefully monitored through a built-in measuring station for monitoring air quality,” Mr Krhen explains. “Also, neither chlorine nor gas combustion is used for the regasification process, but pure heat transfer from seawater to the intermediate fluid and finally to the LNG. In this way, the impact of the LNG terminal on the environment is maximally reduced.”

When it comes to risks associated with the operations, the Krk LNG terminal has multiple safety measures to manage with and insure against.

“All risks that may occur at the LNG terminal have been carefully studied through a complete Risk Assessment and for each of them, there are several ways to handle and eliminate risks,” Hrvoje Krhen concludes. “In addition to all that, LNG Croatia assesses, updates and eliminates all new risks that may affect the operation of the LNG Terminal, several times a year. This refers to all possible difficulties for the regular delivery of natural gas to the transmission system either due to the stoppage of regasification, equipment failure or due to the security risk that the LNG Terminal may face.”

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