Bar: Government and citizens against the LNG terminal in Port, concerned about health, biodiversity, tourism and economy

The local government announced that it will raise the question of the construction of the gas terminal in the state parliament, that is, that it will request a control hearing from the Minister of Spatial Planning, Janko Odović.

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From yesterday's session of the Open Parliament, Photo: Marija Pešić
From yesterday's session of the Open Parliament, Photo: Marija Pešić
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The local government and Barani are against the construction of an LNG terminal in the Port of Bar, and are concerned about health, biodiversity, tourism and the economy. That is the conclusion of yesterday's session of the Open Parliament of the Bar Municipal Assembly (SO), where citizens and experts discussed this project.

President of the Municipality of Bar Dušan Raičević he said that he was explicitly against the construction of an LNG terminal in the Port of Bar.

"Everything that used to be an organized system, today we live in a completely unorganized system where the level of responsibility at the local level cannot even be determined because all responsibilities have been taken away from the local level," he assessed.

President of the SO Bar and member of the Parliament of Montenegro Branislav Nenezić said that he does not choose sides, but if something that could be a potential danger costs a billion euros, it is better to direct that money elsewhere. He announced that, as a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Tourism, Agriculture and Spatial Planning, he would submit a request for a control hearing to the Minister of Spatial Planning, Urbanism and State Property Janko Odović in connection with the construction of the LNG terminal.

The recent prime minister Dritan Abazovic signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Montenegro and two American companies in May 2023 on the construction of a terminal for the import of liquefied natural gas, LNG, in Montenegro and the installation of a gas-fired thermal power plant, the supply of which would come via the terminal in the Port of Bar.

The memorandum is an expression of the commitment of the signatory parties to start discussions and actions with the aim of realizing two energy infrastructure projects, namely: the construction and installation of a fixed terminal for the import of liquefied natural gas in Montenegro and its further storage, regasification and transport, and the construction and installation project of a greenfield thermal power plant on gas in Montenegro, whose gas supply comes through the terminal for the import of liquefied natural gas.

She spoke at the session Amra Kazazović in front of the Institute for Public Health, who said that this gas, like every source of energy we already use, brings certain dangers. The risk factors, according to her, are the extraction process, the location of the terminal and the proximity of settlements and the characteristics of methane, which is up to 95 percent in natural gas.

"Natural gas is at -162 degrees. Such a low temperature, if it came into direct contact with a person, would have serious consequences. However, direct contact is very rare. First of all, that gas is placed in a certain material that prevents contact, prevents the effect of such a low temperature", she stated

Representative of the NGO Bankwatch Network and coordinator for the decarbonization of the district heating sector in the Western Balkans, Natasa Kovacevic said that according to the process of accession to the European Union and what Montenegrin development policies are, since the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, the construction of an LNG terminal should not occur.

"We would have to import gas from Azerbaijan, which is Russian gas again," she emphasized.

The signing of the memorandum in 2023 is, as the representatives of the then government said, also a desire to reduce the influence of Russian energy.

Kovačević emphasized the danger of this gas and the terminal for the environment and the impact on climate change, for which, as she stated, 25 percent of this gas is responsible. She stressed that we should talk about clean energy sources, renewable sources and solar energy, and not gas, which Europe and the world are moving away from.

Kovačević said that since 1944, 13 serious hazards, or disasters, have been recorded and that there were almost always human victims, and that Montenegro is not good at controlling what is in port terminals.

"In Algeria in 2004, they had 28 victims and 120 injured. Then in San, in Panic or, in Mexico in 1984, 500 victims and there was extensive damage to other buildings due to explosions. In North Korea in 2013, there were 5 victims," ​​she stated.

Lawyer and Baranka Vesna Čejović she said that if this project were to be implemented, it would have enormous consequences for the tourist economy, life resources, ecology, environment and people's health for many years to come.

Baranin and the first officer of the ship for the transportation of LNG gas in the "Shell" company, Miloš Mirkovic, he said that LNG is not a poisonous gas and that it would not pollute the sea and the atmosphere.

He explained that LNG is actually natural liquefied gas and currently the cleanest fossil fuel that is obtained by turning the gas into a liquid state by keeping it at a pressure of more than 43 bar or by cooling it to -160 degrees Celsius.

That gas is found underground and consists of 93 percent methane with a negligible proportion of butane, propane and nitrogen.

Methane, he said, is not poisonous, but it is flammable when mixed with oxygen between 5 and 16 percent in the atmosphere. He stated that as long as it is in a liquid state it is not flammable, nor is it flammable as long as it is in a tank or pipeline and that odors are added for easy detection of leaks.

"I don't know where the information comes from that this technology is dying out," answered Mirković to the previous speakers and added that it is more complicated to transport and safer in a liquid state than when it is in gas. In the next 20 to 30 years, he says, there will be investments in gas and that solar energy is unprofitable.

He claims that LNG is not harmful to the environment to a large extent and said that if there were to be a release, it would happen vertically and not horizontally, as speakers before him said, and there would be no explosion or danger to the city.

Citizens took part in the discussion and expressed a dominantly negative attitude regarding the construction of the LNG terminal, they were worried about the Volujica hill, and they also criticized former Prime Minister Abazović.

The Open Parliament was attended by about 30 citizens, MPs from the ruling parties and two MPs from the opposition.

Varhelji: Montenegro would be a hub in the region for liquefied gas

EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelji announced during the meeting with Abazović in October last year that the EU is ready to build an LNG terminal in Montenegro in partnership with Montenegro.

He stated that the construction of the gas terminal in Bar would be of great importance for Montenegro and the region, bearing in mind the energy crisis caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine. With its construction, Montenegro would become a hub for other countries in the region when it comes to liquefied gas.

The Prime Minister then recalled that the Government had previously signed a memorandum with American investors regarding the LNG terminal in Bar, assessing at the same time the interest and willingness of the EU partners to finance such a project from European funds.

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