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  • Writer's pictureFelix Tsourakis

Montenegro: Western Balkans’ success story

Montenegro is a small country, independent since 2006, with exceptional hydrocarbon potential.

This potential is certified by the presence of oil and gas majors such as ENI, Energean and Novatek.

Montenegro is an important success story about how a very small country managed to revive their hydrocarbon sector, attract, negotiate with, and actually sign with major IOCs in less than five years.

After its independence in 2006, Montenegro proceeded to go out to the global markets looking for investment with confidence, and greatly succeeded in doing so.


ENI and Novatek

In August 2013 the government called a tender for the exploration of 13 offshore blocks. Eni S.p.A. formed a consortium with Novatek and was awarded a contract for four blocks in June 2016.

Blocks 4118-4, 4118-5, 4118-9 and 4118-10, comprising a total area of approximately 1.2 thousand square kilometers, are located in the territorial waters of Montenegro.

The consortium has completed an elaborate assessment on the environmental impact for seismic research, and after the Environmental Protection Agency issues the necessary license, 3D seismic research will begin.


Energean is currently the sole operator of offshore blocks 4218-30 and 4219-26, with 100% working interest, covering a surface area of 338 square kilometres in shallow waters. The blocks were officially awarded in March 2017, following the signing of a concession agreement.

Energean announced that the two blocks it is exploring in Montenegro have recoverable natural gas reserves of 1.8 trillion cubic feet, citing the results of its first Competent Persons Report (CPR).

The CPR is part of the first three-year exploration phase, which entails a mandatory work program including geological and geophysical studies and a 3D seismic survey that is set to be acquired in 2018.

The team behind Montenegro’s success

Vladan Dubljevic is the name to have in mind, and the man leading Montenegro to this huge success story. I remember the first time we spoke on the phone in 2012, while still with another company; firm, knowledgeable, kind and determined to make this happen for Montenegro.

If memory serves me well, in 2012 Montenegro was just about to launch something, but were unclear on the hows, the whos and the way to achieve what the Ministry of Economy, where the Hydrocarbon Directorate belonged under, had in mind.

Vladan and his exceptional team of experts, Radosav Covic, Tamara Pavlicic and Ivana Gardasevic, would always reach out to ask for more contacts and expertise, would be quick on their feet and had a very clear proposal to investors with an exceptional legal and fiscal framework to accompany Montenegro’s prolific mid-to low risk exploration potential.

I have been very lucky to be close to Vladan and the team to see their resilience and open-mindedness bring ENI, Novatek on board and the Greek regional established-yet-up-and-coming force, Energean who signed for offshore blocks 4219-26 and 4218-30.’ said Chryssa Tsouraki, Managing Director of IN-VR.

Why Montenegro is Balkans prominent success story

Montenegro is small, yet very professional and quick to act and react. Although they are in the heart of Balkans, they work with international open-mindedness; they ask questions, they are not unnecessarily rigid, they know how to deal with bureaucracy. They managed to do an incredible job selecting their partners (Energean’s sustainability and HSE policy and strategy is considered by many as one of the top in the world).

’Well done Montenegro, very well done. I am sure there is still a lot more exciting news coming up. I can’t wait to hear from Vladan Dubljevic, now chairing the Montenegrin National Hydrocarbon Agency/ Administration.’’ said Chryssa Tsouraki.

Meet Vladan and find out what investment opportunities Montenegro holds for Operators and Service companies in a month’s time, during the 6th Balkans Petroleum Summit, taking place 16th-17th October 2018 in Bucharest.

Vladan Dubljevic’s remarks

“When Montenegro’s authorities started, for the first time, to present our Resource Management Policy and Administrative System Montenegro planned to implement for its forthcoming upstream sector to the global Petroleum community, we worked together and very closely with IN-VR’s team since 2012, and the events she organised were our first audience.

We tested ideas, listed to what is working and what is not in the region, and Chryssa always brought a great audience together for that. Regional experience was very important, where despite its geological similarities, administrative systems come short of similar.

We believe that Montenegro’s hydrocarbons resource management system is more resilient and adaptive to needs of 21st century petroleum industry and public administration management in part as result of experience we collected from working closely with IN-VR Oil & Gas. We look forward to meeting you all at the Balkans Petroleum Summit!”

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