Is tourism threaten and what is the extent of the danger?
Tourism and hydrocarbons - symbiosis of sustainable development of a smart country.
In the public, there has been present a completely wrong thesis which is: tourism or drilling. An example confirming that this thesis is wrong is Istria, or better said - our own example. Nearby Istria, there are 19 platforms of which the first commenced production in 1999. Only last year, five new wells were drilled and tourism in Istria has never shown better results.
Last 40 years hydrocarbons have been explored and produced from the Adriatic, and meanwhile, tourism has grown as well. Tourists who spend their holidays in Croatia today are not aware of the platforms in the Adriatic Sea, nor they will be aware of it tomorrow. Tourism is the most important economic sector in Croatia which must not and will not be compromised by this project.
Successful co-existance of tourism and offshore hydrocarbon exploration and production is the norm in our neighbouring Adriatic Sea and Mediterranean Sea neighbours (Italy, Greece, Spain ...), our EU partners (Germany, UK, Netherlands ...) and globally. One prime United States example is the Santa Barbara region of California. Santa Barbara is a leading global tourism destination and has for decades had ongoing oil production from just three kilometers off the California mainland. California produces 7% of the United States oil production.
Croatia has adopted leading global exclusion zones and other mitigation measure to the extent that some of the offshore oil production that is ongoing of the coast of Santa Barbara and off the coast of Italy would not, for example, be possible in Croatia.
Can you explain where will platforms be located, how will activities be performed and whether they will be visible from the coast?
The platforms will be located in the area permitted according to the environmental impact assessment and will not be visible from the coast.
Platforms will not be visible from the coast. If during the exploration period there is a commercial discovery of oil and/or gas, reservoir development must be planned in such a way which implies that the platform is not visible from the coast. Otherwise, an environmental impact assessment will not be approved.
If there is commercial discovery, having in mind all limitations defined by the Strategic impact assesment, production platforms have to be placed in such a way not to not to disturb the views of interest for tourism ie. platform should not be visible from the beaches, resorts and tourist zones. The well may be located many kilometers away from the platform, but if in that case the recommendation of Strategic environmental impact assesment could not be complied with also, there will be no production.
How is possible that platforms will not be visible from the coast if it is possible to see Italy from our coast during stormy wheather? How come that platform on 6 or 10 kilometres will not be seen?
We can see Italian coast, but not their 114 platforms.
Currently, on the our side of Northern Adriatic there are 20 platforms which are not visible from the coast in any moment. If we are able to see Italian cost from certain places, this does not mean that we can also see 114 Italian platforms.
In order to prevent exploration near the coast and island (which was not the case before), having in mind the primary goal to eliminate negative impact on tourism in terms of visibility and protection of the environment, certain limitations have been set up, including moving away boundaries of exploration blocks to at least 10 km from the mainland and 6 km from the island. Before, boundaries were 0 km from the mainland and 0 km from island.
In any case, this does not mean that platforms will be located on the very edge of exploration blocks. Further, it is absolutely wrong to declare that platforms will be located 10 km away from the mainland and 6 km away from islands in the exploration blocks.
Prior to all other activities, exploration activities shall be conducted in order to determine whether there are hydrocarbons in the particular area and whether the production would be commercial. These activities, which last for a period of 2-6 months, also have to be performed in a proper way and in proper time, in order not to endanger protected species and habitats in the Adriatic Sea, as well as tourism and fisheries.
Croatia earns 57 billion kunas per year from tourism, while earnings from production of hydrocarbons have been estimated in an amount between 1 and 6 billion kunas per year?
People compare apples and oranges. Since we have been doing some kind of comparison, let us compare real numbers, which are: 57 billion kunas of revenue per year from tourism compared to 20 billion kunas per year from potential exploration of hydrocarbons.
Since we have been talking about the numbers, 57 billion kunas per year which have constantly been mentioned in public, in fact is revenue. However, if we want to see what is the profit from tourism, the story changes and the situation becomes much more complicated because it is very hard to get concrete indicators. During summer season, tourism recovers labour market and unemployment declines. However, in this very moment, it is very hard to get real numbers what are direct benefits for the state budget from revenues generated from tourism.
Meanwhile, if we talk about production of hydrocarbons and take one of the most conservative scenarios into consideration, we can say that those activities will generate approximately 20 billion kunas of revenue, and net revenues as a direct benefit for the state budget in amount of 6 billion of kunas. All above mentioned means that we can compare 57 and 20 billion kunas, which at last means that Croatia can generate total revenue in amount of 77 billion kunas per year from both sectors.
What is the impact on the nautical tourism?
There is no impact.
Nautical tourism is an activity of special attention. Due to that fact, within the Strategic impact assessment it has been determined that certain parts of exploration blocks should be modified in a way to exclude areas wich have been appointed as areas of high attractiveness of nautical tourism, and this is especially highlighted for the area around the island Vis. Furthermore, according to the agreement with the Ministry of Tourism, investors have the obligation to comply all their activities of exploration and production of hydrocarbons in other areas which are known for nautical tourism, as well.