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National Training in Montenegro

The Themis national training "Improving the Implementation and Enforcement of SEA and EIA Procedures for Programmes for the Exploration and Production of Oil and Gas Offshore Montenegro" was organised by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism and the Regional Environmental Center (REC) Montenegro. The training took place on November 23-25, 2016, in the municipality of Budva, Montenegro. The aim was to connect the topics discussed during previous regional trainings on horizontal issues, and the implementation and application of SEA and EIA, to the exploration and production of oil and gas in Montenegro.

National stakeholders in the field of SEA/EIA, environmental liability, environmental protection, oil and gas exploration, inspectorates, local governments and NGOs participated in the training to widen their understanding and knowledge of EIA/SEA processes and responsibilities related to oil and gas exploration and production.

During her introductory statement, Ms. Dina Skarep of the Directorate for Hydrocarbons presented the programme for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons, including the programme's legal basis and procedures, and the related risks and challenges. The territorial organisation of the programme and the planned timeframe for the research process and seismic surveys, including drilling, were explained. An overview of the current status of the programme was provided, as the process for obtaining approval for the SEA report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Montenegro has not yet been finalised.

On behalf of the EPA of Montenegro, Ms. Brajović presented the key recommendations of the SEA report for the programme for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons offshore Montenegro, which are related to the need to carry out additional research into the marine ecosystem in order to obtain the data required before starting the EIA procedure. Participants were introduced to the main outcomes of the SEA report, its limitations and recommendations, thus deepening their knowledge and understanding of the SEA framework.

Mr. Radović of the EPA of Montenegro introduced the EIA legal framework, as well as the limitations of the law with respect to inspection supervision, which gives jurisdiction only to ecological/environmental inspectors.

On behalf of the Directorate for Maritime Safety, Mr. Ratković stressed the readiness of the institution to respond to potential risks in the event of accidents, as equipment has been provided via projects under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), as well as numerous signed memorandums on cooperation with countries in the region with the aim of joint action in the case of accidents in order to prevent the catastrophic consequences of the pollution of the marine ecosystem.

The training provided an opportunity for the exchange of experiences and practices between participants and the representatives and experts of an EU member state (Croatia), based on case studies related to SEA/EIA presented by experts Mr. Buljan and Mr. Pusić of the Croatian Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection. The experts also presented recommendations on inspection control, particularly with regard to monitoring and measures for the prevention and elimination of harmful environmental impacts, and stressed the importance of public participation and of obtaining guidelines and information, based on the experience of their country.

Ms. Jasmina Rojević, on behalf of the NGO Ozon, assessed the degree of transparency of the programming process for the exploration and production of oil and gas in Montenegro, from the aspect of the SEA report, as well as the key disadvantages of approval.

The issue of liability for damage to the environment was presented by Ms. Cmiljanović of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro, who explained the degree of transposition of Directive 2004/35 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on liability for damage to the environment and its importance to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage. The lack of efficient coordination among national and local institutions is an obstacle to the full enforcement of the directive and the related national legislation.

The training included a visit to the Maritime Safety Department in Kotor, where participants were able to see equipment used in cases of marine pollution, as well as the new equipment provided through IPA projects. All potential forms of pollution of the marine ecosystem were presented, as well as methods for prevention and action in the case of pollution events.

The main outcomes of the training, including follow-up actions, are outlined below:

  • A lack of communication and coordination among all relevant institutions is one shortcoming that should be improved. There is a need for greater and better cooperation between relevant institutions.
  • Montenegro has insufficient administrative capacities in all institutions relevant to the exploration and production of oil and gas offshore Montenegro.
  • Further support is needed in the process of implementing and enforcing national legislation in the field of SEA/EIA for oil and gas operations.
  • It is important to strengthen the capacities of administrative staff in relevant institutions dealing with the exploration and production of oil and gas. It would be valuable if one additional training could be organised including more relevant institutions.
  • It is important to provide support to relevant institutions to improve the implementation and enforcement of EIA procedures for future oil and gas activities offshore Montenegro.
  • Cooperation with NGOs should be improved and public consultations need to be strengthened.
  • More awareness campaigns are needed with respect to the programme for the exploration and production of oil and gas offshore Montenegro, highlighting the readiness of institutions, such as the Maritime Safety Department, to respond to potential risks in the case of accidents.
National trainings