In serious states the development of strategic sectors of the economy is planned long-term. From state strategies arise all the government moves that should add to the making of strategic goals. In the energy development strategy of the Republic of Serbia, not once does the need for building new refineries come up. How then is the Minister for the Environment and Spatial Planning, Oliver Dulic, persistently claiming that the “building of a modern oil refinery in Smederevo is very important for Serbia”?
In the public the thesis about “the refinery as a state project behind which resolutely stands the government of Serbia” is being placed for almost three years. So much about the strategic dimensions of this “important state project”.
Strategic development plans are defined at national level and are elaborated with lower order plans. In the case of the Smederevo refinery, the process is unfolding in the opposite direction.
With the spatial and general city planning for Smederevo adopted in 2005 and 2006, with an expiration deadline by 2020 the region in the hinterland of the right coast of the Danube downstream from the Smederevo-Kovin bridge is determined for transport and logistical activities, services, storage and similar activities in the function of the new port, not for building a refinery.
In September 2010 with the illegal adoption of the Regulation on Spatial Plans for special purpose areas of a part of the industrial zone, the NE sector in Smederevo, before adopting the new Spatial plan of the Republic at the national assembly (the law anticipates for the region to be defined – as a special purpose area in the Spatial plan of the Republic), a “planned basis” was created for the realization of the refinery project.
Under the pressure of the “unwritten strategy”, in line with the illegally adopted Regulation, the local government in Smederevo is starting to amend the most important planned acts and to harmonize them with the requirements of the refinery project.
The city assembly of Smederevo, has made a decision on issuing land for the development of a refinery, without an adopted program for issuing construction land (which was the obligation by the then standing Law) and with a non-market set initial price.
The procedure for leasing land for the refinery is being brought into question because the mayor had during the lease advertisement, been secretly signing contracts with the potential (and only) bidder.
The mayor admitted to this act, but only after the intervention of the free access to information trustee, Rodoljub Sabic.
By adopting the new changes to the Law on Planning and Development, this will allow for the city of Smederevo to be relieved from paying taxes if the government establishes “greater interest”.
The former Minister of Energy, Petar Skundric, stated that he is “skeptical that a refinery of that scale can be built with USD250mn, especially since the Pancevo modernization project is asking for EUR500mn.
On the website of Basic Equipment, a company mentioned as one of the founders of Comico overseas, in their reference lists were presented the operations of moving existing refinery facilities to other locations, but with no new refinery built.
The people of Smederevo, at the initiative of the DSS had managed a referendum to be held on “Do you support the building of a refinery for crude oil processing in Smederevo?” Around 8000 circled NO and about 3000 circled YES.
The government in Smederevo had attempted to interpret this result as a success and support of the citizens to the project. Radomir Radivojevic had an active role in the campaign, the deputy manager of Comico Oil.
Several questions need to be asked:
- Where is the Smederevo refinery in the energy development strategy for the RS?
- Does a serious country make strategic partnerships with unrecognized companies?
- How are spatial and urban plans adopted in the “European” Serbia?
- Why is the land being leased at cheap prices?
- What is the interest of the state of Serbia and the people of Smederevo on this project?
- Why are the studies indicating that the optimal valorization of this area would be achieved by building a new port and auxiliary items being ignored?
- Who decided to cut off 2000 potential jobs if the port were to be built?
A lot of questions were asked but without responses.
Sasa Radosavljevic is a member of the Board for Infrastructure and Even Regional Development of the economic Council of the DSS; President of Smederevo municipality during the period 2006- 2008.