ZAGREB, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The Croatian parliament adopted on Thursday a special law to speed up building of a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the island Krk in northern Adriatic.
The law nicknamed "Lex LNG" was passed by 77 "yes" votes, while 25 representatives voted against it. Most of the opposition members left the parliament before voting because they disagree with the government's decision to put the bill in the fast track procedure.
The Law on the Terminal for Liquefied Natural Gas regulates solutions for property and legal relations at the site for the terminal, issuing concessions for the coastal belt in order to construct the terminal and concession fees and defining the allowance for supply security, Croatian news agency Hina reported. The investor in the project is the state-owned company LNG Hrvatska.
The terminal's initial annual capacity is planned at 2.6 billion cubic meters. The government claims that the LNG project is of strategic importance for Croatia.
The European Union who wants to diversify sources of supply has decided to finance about a third of the cost, which stood at 104.1 million euros (121 million U.S. dollars). The total value of the project is approximately 383 million euros.
According to the plan, the terminal should be operational in early 2020.
The geo-strategic importance of the project could be more obvious than its economic significance. The terminal would supply not only Croatia but other European countries which depend on Russian energy imports.
On June 6, Russian Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov told Croatian reporters that Moscow didn't have a problem with the terminal on Krk, but emphasized that gas from Russia would always be cheaper.
Croatia is importing 60 percent of its gas needs from Russia.
The law has prompted a heated debate in Croatia. Local authorities and environmental organizations oppose the building of the terminal, arguing that a floating terminal in the northern Adriatic could have a negative impact on nature and Croatian tourism.
"We will ask the constitutional court to assess whether this law is lawful," Marija Mileta from Green Action told Xinhua on Thursday. Mileta argues that the environmental study provided by LNG Hrvatska wasn't done well and that the fast track procedure of lawmaking was illegal.