Montenegro: Referendum on oil extraction to be considered after submarine exploration

The Montenegrin Ministry of Capital Investments is ready to leave the final decision on the use of oil to the citizens through a referendum, but only after the exploratory drilling confirms if there are quantities in the Montenegrin submarine area that would be economical for exploitation, and after an intensive public consultation is held.

The ministry said they are not planning to postpone the exploratory drilling scheduled for Thursday, nor to terminate the contract, which would cost Montenegro at least 35m euros.

“The ministry does not plan to postpone the exploratory drilling planned for Thursday, as this would have negative consequences for Montenegro’s budget based on the obligations assumed by the concession agreement.” However, the Ministry insists and calls on all stakeholders to participate in the public debate, in order to jointly exchange arguments for and against the use of oil and gas from the Montenegrin submarine area and find the best solution as to ecology as well as for the economy. of Montenegro, “the Ministry announced.

When asked how much it would cost Montenegro to terminate the contract with the Eni and Novatek consortium, the ministry replied that it was difficult to estimate the exact amount of possible compensation.

“Given that in the first phase of research in the previous four years the Italian-Russian consortium invested between 35 and 40 million, while a considerable amount of funds were also invested in the second phase, Montenegro would have to compensate the consortium in the amount of their investments so far, ”they say.

The start of the exploratory drilling was announced two weeks ago by Line Minister Mladen Bojanić and Secretary of State at the Ministry Marko Perunov.

After that, numerous environmental organizations opposed the drilling in the Adriatic and demanded that the state terminate the concession agreement and stop the procedure.

The URA Civic Movement said on Friday that citizens should decide on that project through a referendum.

The State Audit Institution (SAI) conducted a preliminary audit which showed that the state does not have adequate equipment to protect the environment in the event of a major maritime accident.

The preliminary report was submitted to the audited entities with a decision expected from April 1, while the SAI must publish the final report on environmental protection in case of unexpected incidents by April 15.

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