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Proposal on Safety in Offshore Research Act: A Drilling of Common Sense!

The organizations gathered in the coalition S.O.S. Adriatic demand the withdrawal of the proposed Safety in Offshore Research and Exploitation of Hydrocarbons Act, which represents a clear and crude distortion of the EU Directive.

The proposed Safety in Offshore Research and Exploitation of Hydrocarbons Act strives to preserve the current chaotic situation and entrust the responsibility of environmental and safety supervision over offshore petroleum activities to the Agency for Hydrocarbons (AZU). In this way, the fundamental principle of the Directive on the Safety in Offshore and Oil Activities has been impudently disregarded. The Directive requires that such activities be supervised by qualified institutions that are independent and not affiliated with “the economic development of offshore natural (oil) resources”.

AZU, as the supervising body, is evidently in conflict of interest through the incorporation of functions that, on the one hand aim towards the economic development of oil exploitation in the Adriatic Sea, while on the other hand, should ensure the implementation of the Directive aiming to protect the Adriatic Sea. The most banal indicator of this dependence is AZU’s vision of Croatia as “a new oil region in the heart of Europe”, which is stated on their official website. The Directive clearly states that conflicts of interests are best prevented by a full separation of the supervising body, from the functions relating to the economic development of offshore natural resources. In contrast, the proposed arrangement can vividly be called a drilling of common sense.

This Act proposal is just one of the many omissions by the Croatian Government, to try and impose harmful oil drilling projects in the Adriatic Sea. Being unable to implement their plan of oil drilling in the Adriatic Sea in accordance with the highest standards, the Government has passed the Exploration and Exploitation of Hydrocarbons Act, which has lowered the level of environmental protection in Croatia. However, the Ministry of Economy and AZU weren’t even able to meet their own lowest criteria. The contract signing with concessionaries being delayed is nothing less than a breach of regulation, because of the compulsory deadlines stipulated by the Act itself.

The delay itself is the result of strong pressure from the public against this harmful project, and represents an important victory in the fight for the preservation of the Adriatic Sea from oil pollution. The next step of the S.O.S. Adriatic coalition is to completely prevent the signing of the contracts. We also demand that the Government fulfill Prime Minister Milanovic’s announcement of a fair referendum and ensure that it is carried out, something that only makes sense prior to signing any contracts.

The S.O.S. Adriatic coalition has sent official commentaries on the proposed Safety in Offshore Research and Exploitation of Hydrocarbons Act, and we expect these comments to be seriously and substantively discussed. It is unacceptable to repeat the situation during the public debate on the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment, where AZU and the Ministry of Economy ignored 3750 comments of concerned citizens.