The 37th International Scientific and Expert Meeting of Gas Professionals, along with an international exhibition of gas equipment and technology, was successfully held in the Congress Center of the Grand Hotel Adriatic in Opatija on 11–13 May 2022 and organised jointly by the Croatian Gas Centre Ltd and the Croatian Gas Association (CGA) as a member of the International Gas Union (IGU). Gas and energy experts from Croatia and abroad met again at their traditional venue in Opatija.

Over the three days in Opatija, more than 500 attendees met from 21 European countries, including the USA. The event was attended by gas and energy professionals, managers from leading European energy companies, scientists from renowned Croatian and European universities, representatives from the gas transmission industry, as well as gas suppliers, producers and distributors, including representatives from large industrial gas consumers, manufacturers and representatives of gas equipment from Croatia and abroad. In all, 44 scientific and expert papers, 11 technical-commercial presentations and 4 interesting panel discussions were organised. More than 190 various gas and energy companies and organisations were represented, with 37 exhibitors presenting their products and services in the exhibition area in front of the congress hall. During the event, the Croatian Gas Association and the Croatian Gas Centre, in collaboration with the liquefied natural gas terminal operator – the company LNG Croatia LLC, scheduled a visit to the LNG terminal in Omišalj on the island of Krk for interested attendees.

The gas event was organised under the high patronage of the Croatian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the Croatian Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure. The event was also supported by the following sponsors: INA – Industrija nafte d.d., Siemens Energy d.o.o., Plinacro d.o.o., LNG Croatia LLC, Prvo plinarsko društvo d.o.o., HEP d.d., Monter-strojarske montaže d.d., the Central European Gas Hub (CEGH), Gaztransport & Technigaz (GTT), Monting d.o.o. and Međimurje-plin d.o.o., while the co-organisers were Podzemno skladište plina Ltd. and Termoplin d.d. Varaždin.

At the opening of the event, the President of the Croatian Gas Association, Assist Prof Dalibor Pudić, PhD greeted invitees and attendees. He extended his appreciation for the attendance of Nermin Džindžić as the Minister of Energy, Mining and Industry in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Hungarian Ambassador Csaba Demcsák, Ivo Milatić as the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development in the Republic of Croatia, Josip Tomić as the President of the Board of Naftni terminali (Petroleum Terminals) in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kristina Čelić (PhD), as the Director of the Energy Board before the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development in the Republic of Croatia, Danijel Žamboki (MSc) as President of the Governing Council of the Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA) and members of the respective Governing Council, as well as all the patrons, sponsors, co-organisers, speakers, participants and journalists who contributed to the success of the event. He pointed out that since the most recently held gathering in Opatija, many changes have taken place in the European and global energy market, such as enormous price increases, uncertainty concerning security and reliability of supply, as a reflexive action to the Ukrainian crisis. He also noted that the Croatian Gas Association supports the path toward decarbonisation of natural gas, which will have a significant role in the transition period in combination with other gases producing fewer emissions. In the future, hydrogen will be an increasingly important topic and was addressed at this year’s gathering. The President of the Croatian Gas Association next invited the State Secretary Ivo Milatić from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development in the Republic of Croatia to officially open the gathering.

Ivo Milatić, the state secretary of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, highlighted the Croatian Government’s policy of providing maximum support for all investments in developing the gas infrastructure and considers the decision to construct the LNG terminal as wise, because the current complex situation offers security as is only possible in a small number of countries in the EU. He also announced that capacities at the LNG terminal on the island of Krk will increase to 6.1 billion cubic metres, and gas production from proprietary sources will increase to 800 million cubic metres next year. Emphasis was also placed on Croatia’s endeavours aimed at applying for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) (Instrument for connecting for the purpose of constructing the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) on the section from Dugopolje through Montenegro to Albania. At the end of the presentation, the state secretary estimated that in terms of protecting households against gas prices, Croatia is among the leading European countries doing so and also noted that gas reductions for citizens over the coming winter will not happen

The President of the Governing Council of the Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA), Danijel Žamboki (MSc), highlighted the satisfaction with the passed package of measures by the Croatian Government for mitigating energy price increases with the aim of protecting consumers. He considers that in this situation on the gas market, the Republic of Croatia has the best position compared to other European Union countries due to its diversification of supply routes and the LNG terminal on the island of Krk.


The Operational Director of Oil and Gas Research and Production at INA -Industrije nafte d.d., Nikola Mišetić, addressed attendees and highlighted the company’s great endeavours in increasing gas and oil production. He also referred to the need to issue the necessary permits more quickly, as is currently being discussed by the Croatian Government. He announced a cycle of projects in constructing new platforms in the Adriatic with a rollout plan until 2024, which will facilitate an increase in domestic production.

The President of the Management Board at Siemens Energy d.o.o., Boris Miljavac, believes that natural gas is the primary energy source for the energy transition and estimates that expansion of the LNG terminal along with the construction of new pipelines is an important decision, along with seeking alternative gas supply routes while referring to the Ukrainian crisis. He noted the future use of hydrogen and the development of modern technologies for energy production without CO2 emissions, with a particular emphasis on energy efficiency.

The Member of thte Board of Plinacro Ltd., Marin Zovko reminded about the many completed investments such as the construction of the compressor station in Ludina and evacuation gas pipeline as the connection for the LNG terminal onto the transport gas pipeline system in the Republic of Croatia. In terms of the current situation, he announced an increase in capacities at the LNG terminal on the island of Krk and an increase in transport capacities toward Slovenia and Hungary. Plinacro also plans to intensify the development of the Ionian-Adriatic gas pipeline and diversification of supply for the Croatian transport system using new gas sources from the Caspian region.

The President of the Management Board at the company LNG Croatia LLC, Hrvoje Krhen, talked about the excellent operations at the LNG terminal on the island of Krk. Since the start of operations in January 2021, the terminal has delivered approx. 2.4 billion cubic metres of gas and has become the dominant entry point into the Croatian gas transport system (approx. 55% of the market). In agreement with Plinacro, the terminal capacities were increased from 2.6 to 2.9 billion cubic metres of gas, and there will undoubtedly be further capacity increases for market needs. The LNG terminal on the island of Krk commenced delivering non-standard services such as unloading of gas onto ships and tank trucks, thereby expanding the commercial base of the trading by storage lessees.

The Director of the Underground Gas Storage Ltd., Vlado Vlašić, pointed out that all services were provided to users during the most recent storage year. Also, storage capacities have been leased out for the next five years. Due to the current situation in the gas market, there is no significant interest by lessees at this current time for filling up the capacities. The expectation from an announcement is that the Croatian Government will intervene to fill the storage and ensure stability within the gas system using state-owned companies.

After the initial greetings, the presentations began in line with the program and scheduled themes.

In the introductory presentation, Andrea Stegher, vice president and the elected future President of the International Gas Union (IGU), pointed out that the commenced decarbonisation of energy until 2050 offers gas a chance as an important role in the energy transition. Particular significance will be given to environmental protection and seeking new solutions for energy sources that emit the least possible greenhouse gas emissions. In referring to the current energy crisis and securing gas supplies to European countries for the coming heating season, he noted the importance of filling the capacities of gas storage facilities. Regarding LNG, there is currently no supply problem in Europe which is mainly attributed to issues associated with the pandemic currently affecting the largest Chinese cities and reduced demand. He also drew attention to possible difficulties in LNG supplies from the USA because export growth also causes price increases on the American market, where gas continues to be cheaper than in Europe, hence the possibility of restricted exports.

In the previous presentation, David Linton from the company Updata and Michal Bella from the Central European Gas Hub joined in and presented an analysis of price increases occurring in the recent period. They provided estimated prices for gas and other sources of energy as a consequence of the Ukrainian crisis.

After the introductory talks, a panel discussion was held and moderated by Marko Biočina, along with participation from the state secretary Ivo Milatić, Nikola Mišetić, Marin Zovko and Hrvoje Krhen. The common conclusion of the panellists is a conviction that Croatia is ready for future events and possible disturbances in the natural gas market. The Government is ready to intervene in any supply issues, and all actors in the gas chain area are prepared for operational challenges to ensure unhindered, secure and reliable natural gas supplies.

Kristina Čelić, PhD, gave an interesting lecture, pointing out that in the latter half of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, the European energy market faced strong challenges in terms of sudden price increases, security and reliability of supplies. The European Commission prepared a common European action REPowerEU to ensure more accessible and sustainable energy while reducing dependency on Russian fossil fuels, especially natural gas. The key issue is to ensure diversification of sources and supply routes. Consequently, considerations are given to doubling the capacity of the LNG terminal on the island of Krk over the next three years, along with additional gas interconnections to Slovenia and Hungary. This ambitious potential project should definitely enter the REPowerEU plan to ensure European financing for the project. As also mentioned by previous speakers, special attention is given to the importance of filling the underground storage as a key element of the gas infrastructure and supply security. Along with six European countries, the Republic of Croatia declared an ‘early warning’ enabling the filling of at least 90% of capacities at the Underground Gas Storage at Okoli in line with EU decisions.

Due to her inability to be present in Opatija, a video message by Boyana Achovski, the Secretary General of Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), was shown on the topic of Gas Infrastructure in Partnership with Renewable and Low-Carbon Molecules.

Equipment manufacturers, Viessman d.o.o. and Vaillant d.o.o., have adapted to the energy transition on time. Ivana Lajtman and Mario Opačak noted that the production program is directed toward hydrogen. They announced further significant investments in new technologies while pointing out that natural gas will continue to be used because the EU is unable to quickly ensure a satisfactory energy alternative.

The President of the Croatian Gas Association, Assist Prof Dalibor Pudić, held a conference for journalists and gave an overview of the current energy crisis and its effects on the gas market in Europe. He believes that tailoring a comon European energy policy is not that simple. His opinion is that any gas solution in the coming period involves a common European policy for gas procurement and investments in various supply routes, emphasising the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) connecting to the Croatian gas network and an excellent opportunity for the Republic of Croatia. He expressed the hope that European gas storage facilities will be full prior to the heating season and provide a precondition for preventing further increases of nonetheless high gas prices. In the event of a termination of Russian gas supplies, he does not see the possibility of a complete replacement from other sources on the European market, which would probably lead to reduction measures and reduced consumption of around 20%, until another complete alternative is found.

A talk on hydrogen and the decarbonisation of the European gas sector, including guidelines for the decarbonisation of the gas transport system in the Republic of Croatia, was given by Branka Belamarić, while Boris Njavro, MSc, presented a topic related to this talk. Construction of the Grubišno Polje Underground Gas Storage is a current topic of interest, drawing attention to the gas profession and the current progress of construction as presented by Laslo Farkaš Višontai. Using the example of the existing underground gas storage, Ivan Zelenika, PhD, highlighted the possibility of producing hydrogen from unused energy generated within the gas reduction station at the Okoli Underground Gas Storage. After a group of speakers closed the presentations, an interesting panel discussion took place, which was moderated by Marko Blažević, where speakers had the opportunity to describe in more detail their presentations and received numerous questions from the audience.

This year, at the 37th International Scientific and Expert Meeting of Gas Professionals, students were given the opportunity for the first time to show their knowledge and innovation and indicate that there is young talent ready to work in the gas industry. Students Margarita Tomić, Tin Herbst and Ivana Verčević attracted a lot of attention from attendees due to their presentations. Prof Dr Daria Karaslihović Sedlar moderated a very dynamic and interactive panel discussion. The leading people from companies present at the gathering provided useful advice to attending students. For instance, job applications and interviews as well as interest in direct discussions with students at the gathering, were also expressed. Those present congratulated the organisers of the gathering for including this topic in the program and thought it would be appropriate to do so again in the future. In the introductory part of this topic, Mathilda Blanchard from Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) appeared in a video message and presented the topic titled Implementing an Energy Transition: An Opportunity for a Career in the Gas Industry?

At the gathering, the profession was also able to see the latest technologies in improvements to process efficiency in the use of natural gas with the implementation of the FujiFil ApuraTM gas separating membrane by Davide Bocciarda. A new concept of devising greener offshore research capacities, including gas and oil production, was also presented by the author Matteo Bardotti from Lloyd’s Register EMEA. Vjekoslav Berečić presented a short-term engagement optimisation of a product portfolio and natural gas consumption at the (TE-TO) Zagreb thermal power – heating station.

Innovation and digital transformation in the gas sector during the era of decarbonisation represent a great challenge for all market actors. Accordingly, Danijel Gračan and Saša Punčikar showed how Plinacro predicts natural gas consumption for the requirements of managing the transport system, including the origins and development of the company’s communication system. The latest technology using hyperspectral images from satellites for detecting methane above and under the ground was presented by Jennifer Buz, PhD, from Orbital Sidekick Inc, and a new system for detecting leaks from pipelines in real-time based on IoT technology by Marko Babić from Siemens Energy d.o.o. Luka Klancir from Feromihin d.o.o. and Predrag Viduka and Vladimir Runtas from Holosys d.o.o. presented the use of digitalisation on transport systems and the remote reading of gas meters.

Inovacije i digitalne transformacije u plinskom sektoru u eri dekarbonizacije predstavljaju veliki izazov za sve aktere na tržištu. U tom kontekstu, Danijel Gračan i Saša Punčikar prikazali su na koji način se u Plinacru prognozira potrošnja prirodnog plina za potrebe upravljanja transportnim sustavom i kako je nastao i razvijao se komunikacijski sustav tvrke. Najnoviju tehnologiju korištenja hiperspektralnih slika na osnovi satelita za detekciju metana iznad i ispod zemlje izložila je dr. sc. Jennifer Buz iz Orbital Sidekick, Inc., a novi sustav za detekciju propuštanja u cjevovodima u stvarnom vremenu temeljen na IoT tehnologiji, Marko Babić iz Siemens Energy d. o. o. Primjenu digitalizacije na transportnim sustavima i daljinsko očitanje plinomjera prezentirali su Luka Klancir iz Feromihin d. o. o. te Predrag Viduka i Vladimir Runtas iz Holosys d. o. o.

The development potential of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and their role in the future European gas infrastructure is undoubtedly one of the main topics in the EU today due to the Ukrainian crisis and its possible repercussions on gas supplies from the Russian Federation. Ivan Fugaš and Marko Grbić presented operational processes, the reloading and gasification technology at the LNG terminal, including non-standard operational services in the company LNG Croatia LLC. The next video included Gabrielle Lelievre, communications advisor for Gas Infrastructure Europe, on the topic of Supply Security and Decarbonisation: Enlightening the Role of the LNG Terminal. The thermodynamic aspects and possible utilisation of energy from liquefied natural gas (LNG) were presented by Prof Dr Veljko Filipan, while Amine el Kadiri from Gaztransport & Technigas (GTT) explained how modern technology is used in the company when constructing and testing containment systems on LNG carriers.

A sustainable transport system driven by gas continues to be a subject of interest among European institutions for the purpose of environmental protection and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas, as a replacement for combustible fuel used for boat diesel motors, presents a transitory acceptable solution fulfilling the requirements of transocean shipping. However, there are other accessible and technical-technological solutions which use natural gas as a fuel, such as a combined gas turbine electric and steam system (COGES), as Vladimir Pelić, PhD, explained. Natural gas is a proven ecologically acceptable fuel. Its advantages are backed by conducted testing (emissions from internal combustion engines connected to compressed natural gas compared to petrol in real-time deriving) at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture Zagreb, presented by Zoran Lulić, PhD. The project was devised in collaboration with the company Brod-plin d.o.o. which ensured the necessary testing vehicle. Matej Đuranović followed up on the mentioned talk, publishing the results of ecological contribution in the use of compressed natural gas in the Brod-Posavina County. After the talk, a dynamic panel discussion was held. The panellists concluded that there is much opportunity for gas in transport in the Republic of Croatia given the existing profiles of vehicle fleets and the need for utilising generous incentives intended for the construction of filling station infrastructure and the purchasing of vehicle fleets, whereas prospects in the low-carbon transition point to biogas, and further on hydrogen.

Miroslav Šolic presented the results of an analysis of natural gas consumption in the Brod-Posavina County related to the energy model from 2001, while Jakov Bakić on implemented projects in constructing gas infrastructure in southern Croatia. Berislav Pavlović, PhD, presented the issue and results of research on the effects of mechanical loads relating to the precision of measurements from rotary gas piston meters. An overview of the readiness of distribution system operators for receiving hydrogen was given in a video presentation by Peter Kristensen, the chairman of the Ready4H2. Upgrading the gas quality system to determine hydrogen concentrations in natural gas at Plinacro was presented by Marin Sabolek, and an explanation of the system for blending and injecting hydrogen into the existing gas infrastructure was provided by Mislav Kovačec from Siemens Energy d.o.o. Milan Bartl, from the company SHERLOG NG, presented a sophisticated system for eliminating and locating gas pipeline leaks.

Issues coming from practice in terms of security measures applied in electrical installations and equipment in gas facilities were presented by Stjepan Pavliša. In the final talk at the gathering, Petra Šantić, LL.M., familiarised those present with the new legislative framework for hydrogen, i.e., the packet of measures from the European Union for decarbonisation of the gas and hydrogen market, including future obligations for the gas sector.

At the end of the three-day gathering, Prof Dr Dalibor Pudić, President of the Croatian Gas Association, thanked all participants, moderators, authors and organisers for the successfully held gathering. Natural gas is an essential energy source in the transition period leading to the low-carbon future, which must be taken into account; however, the gas industry faces significant challenges. Its geographical position, developed gas infrastructure and geopolitical circumstances mean that Croatia can become a significant factor in natural gas supplies for Europe.

The 38th International Scientific and Expert Meeting of Gas Professionals will be held in May 2023 in Opatija.