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The changing paradigm of gas in South-Eastern Europe

Due to difficulties posed by the pandemic, global demand for gas fell last year by approximately 2.5 per cent, which was the largest recorded fall in history to date, however, the globalisation of gas trading advanced with an increase in improved liquidity, whereas prices underwent record falls and extreme volatility.

The 36th International Scientific & Expert Meeting of Gas Professionals in Opatija convened a broad spectrum of gas industry stakeholders – representatives from the transport industry, gas suppliers, producers and distributors, representatives from large industrial gas consumers and gas equipment manufacturers – to overview the development of the market in Croatia and the broader region.

One of the gamechanger projects was the Krk LNG terminal, which started commercial operations at the beginning of this year. The new terminal was a strategic project in terms of security of supply and diversification, not only for Croatia but also for the whole region.

Connecting the Krk terminal to the Croatian gas system was a major milestone, as it quickly became the biggest entry point to the Croatian gas system. In the past year, Croatia’s TSO, Plinacro also established the preconditions for the export of gas towards Slovenia and Hungary and worked continuously to establish the southern gas interconnection between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to increase the efficiency of the gas transport system and create conditions for expanding the gas distribution network in the Southern region of Croatia.

The role of gas in transportation was also on the table, as recently two new LNG filling stations and two other CNG filling stations have been built in Croatia. However, this is still a relatively small number compared to neighbouring countries such as Italy, where over one million vehicles are running on natural gas.

Regarding the future role of natural gas in the energy mix, experts agreed that considering that gas has lower CO2 emissions compared to other fossil fuels, it will continue to have a good future and conditions for increasing consumption, serving as a bridging fuel towards the decarbonisation of various industries.

There are clear trends that hydrogen technology is becoming increasingly important in reducing emissions, as it quickly rose to the forefront of the European Commission’s policy agenda. However, although hydrogen pilot projects already exist, the current problem is the high cost of the technology, which must be driven down to become a viable option for decarbonising the European energy system.

The full report of the conference can be accessed here.

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