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Slavonia sitting on huge oil and gas deposits

02. December 2011. | 11:15

Source: Croatian Times

Slavonia on Croatia’s east holds vast amounts of oil and liquid gas that has not yet been exploited according to American research conducted in the 1990s.

Slavonia on Croatia’s east holds vast amounts of oil and liquid gas that has not yet been exploited according to American research conducted in the 1990s.

Croatian daily Slobodna Dalmacija writes that Slavonia can yield some 86 million barrels of oil, 906 billion cubic metres of gas and 28 million barrels of liquid gas.

These valuable resources are the main motivation behind Hungarian company MOL’s ambitions towards taking over Croatian oil firm Ina, the daily writes. With Ina’s ownership, MOL would have access to this mineral wealth.

MOL was privy to this information since the research was conducted in cooperation with the Hungarian government, who – post 1989 – approached the United States for help in light of their previous energy dependence on the USSR. The agreement on scientific and technical cooperation and technology transfer signed soon, later initiated the research that would lead to this important discovery.

United States sent its geologists to look for oil in Hungary. MOL - at the time a state company that held the monopoly in this area - headed the research on the Hungarian side.

The three-year investigation uncovered big oil and gas deposits in "Panonian Basin Province" area. The biggest quantities were believed to be deposited along Zala-Drava-Sava river basins.

The majority of that area belongs to Croatia (55 per cent), while only the smaller part is located in Hungary (22 per cent), Bosnia and Herzegovina (10 per cent), Slovenia (8 per cent) and a bit in Austria and Serbia. The largest quantities are concentrated in the Croatian part of the Panonian Basin.

MOL’s interest in Ina can thus be explained by the huge oil and gas deposits that only the Croatian company has the right to exploit, Slobodna Dalmacija writes. Thanks to this privileged information that was declassified only in 2001 (and then only became accessible to a small group of people), MOL offered the best bid for 25 per cent plus one share of Ina and became its co-owner in 2003.

The Croatian government is now fighting to retain ownership of Ina because according to the Constitution, the owner of all natural mineral riches are the Croatian people or the state on their behalf. Keen on protecting the state’s interests in Ina, the Croatian government proposed legislation earlier this year that would have limited the ownership of Ina's shares to 49 per cent for all other shareholders but the Croatian state. They gave up on the law after criticism from Brussels.

Former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader is currently under investigation for allegedly taking a 10 million Euro bribe from MOL in return for handing over Ina's majority holding.


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