Update No: 123 - (31/08/07)
Everybody who has any interest in Balkan affairs now knows
about Montenegro. It is known, after just over one year of independence, to be a
tourist jewel and the most dynamic property market anywhere.
There was always the intriguing possibility that it may have large oil and gas
reserves off-shore in the Adriatic sea. For a small population, this could be a
Montenegro To Research Oil and Gas Deposits
Possible oil deposits in Montenegro are estimated at 7 billion barrels, while
the natural gas deposits could amount to 425 billion cubic meters, the country's
development strategy revealed on August 24th.
The Strategy for Energy Development to 2025 in Montenegro has also said that the
"real commercial promise of hitherto unknown oil and gas deposits in the
Montenegrin seabed can be stipulated, after making new boreholes in certain
The document was crafted by Slovenian experts, giving it greater credibility. It
has also said that "if there is a recent finding of commercial beds,
important production could be developed."
The Montenegrin government is preparing a tender for concessions aimed at
researching oil resources, off the southern town of Ulcinj. According to the
Ministry of Economic Development the bid will be launched later in 2007,
following the completion of field research, Podgorica-based 'Republika Daily'
"The Government will establish an independent commission, tasked with
preparing an analysis of oil and gas resources in the Montenegrin sea bed so
far", Radonja Minic, deputy minister for economic development was quoted as
Earlier this year, Montenegrin authorities dismissed a report prepared by the
Hellenic Petroleum company on oil and gas resources, published in July. The
document had said that there were only a few natural gas deposits in the
Montenegrin Adriatic basin. Who is right will no doubt emerge over time.
Montenegro Sets Record Number of Cell Phone Users
There are many signs of how rapidly the new nation is modernising. The number of
cell phone users in Montenegro is 42 percent higher than the country's total
population, the Agency for Telecommunications said on August 24th.
The agency said it registered 881,500 cell phone users in July, the highest
figure ever. The previous record was set last September last year with 791,251.
Montenegro has a population of 630.000.
The latest report also included figures from the M:tel, the country's newest
operator, which covers 5.16 percent of the market. Montenegro's largest mobile
telephony operators are the ProMonte with 54.7 percent and the T-Mobile with
40.14 percent of the market share.
In the report, the agency said that the reason for an increase of cell phone
users is the number of tourists and the launch of a new mobile operator.
"Usually, there are some 10 percent more users than residents. But, since
July we have another operator and some 100.000 tourists," a agency official
told Balkan Insight on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to talk
to the press.
Montenegro has had consistently good news for just over a year since its
independence. Now comes a downer, how serious it is not yet possible to say.
Stricken Ship Threatens Montenegro's Coast
The Montenegrin coast is at risk of an ecological disaster after a Greek tanker
partly sank in Montenegrin port of Bijela on August 10th. The ship's stern and
its 215 tonnes of oil remain on the seabed, threatening to pollute the sea
should the oil leak. The ecological consequences of such spills are usually
serious and long-lasting.
"WHISTLING IN THE DARK"
So far officials from the Adriatic Shipyard company say there is no threat of
the ship turning on the seabed and spilling its oil. Stanko Zlokovic, president
of the board of Adriatic Shipyard, told Balkan Insight on August 13th, that
"The risk of an oil leak exists just as a theory. Only if there is another
big storm again the ship would sink totally, but so far it is stable,"
"Mexica", owned by the Greek company Zamounis and Associates, partly
sank, during a severe storm in Boka Kotorska Bay. The ship had been brought to
the shipyard for repair and was scheduled to leave in 15 days. There are 200
tonnes of heavy and 15 tonnes of light oil in the vessel.
Zlokovic said it is impossible to start salvaging the ship without the
permission of Ministry of Maritime affairs. "We hope they will finish the
elaboration in next seven days so we can take the ship out of the water",
Zlokovic said. He added that people are swimming near the spot, just as before
the ship sank. There is some oil and dirt around the ship, according to Zlokovic
because it sank in an industrial area, but he says it has not spread.
The Director of Institute for Marine Biology in Kotor, Sreten Mandic, says the
fuel is contained for now, but if it should leak, the sea in the whole bay would
be polluted. "It would be a disaster if the oil leaks out. That would be
fatal for the sea plants and fish", Mandic told Balkan Insight.
It would not exactly help the new country's main industry, tourism, either.
According to research, just eight grams of oil is enough to pollute a cubic
metre of sea, while one cubic meter of oil removes the oxygen from 400,000 cubic
metres of sea. It is estimated that ten million tones of oil pollute the world's
seas every year.
Macedonia, Montenegro to team up for markets abroad
Macedonia and Montenegro may jointly place their surplus of agricultural
products on world's major markets together.
Macedonian Agriculture Minister Aco Spasenovski and Montenegrin Agriculture
Minister Milutin Simonovic discussed the possibility of setting up a regional
agricultural stock exchange through donor support, Podgorica's daily "Vijesti"
"Thus, Macedonia and Montenegro could emerge with a joint offer in the
stock market, along with Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Bulgaria, which will give
the farmers a bigger chance to place their products," Simonovic said.
At a joint press conference in Podgorica, Spasenovski underscored southeast
Europe's comparative advantages in terms of agriculture, but also that the
region is not competitive enough and it needs a joint approach. "Farmers
should support each other through subsidies and other measures, but they
shouldn't stay on guard all the time. Therefore, they should consider joint