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"One of the two main oil..." Novi Sad Favorite Tip by Dalibor79

Novi Sad General: 49 reviews and 47 photos


Favorite thing: One of the two main oil refineries of Yugoslavia is located in Novi Sad (the other is in Pancevo). According to Aleksander Ivkovac, who is responsible for foreign relations and information, of Novi Sad City Council, the Vojvodina used to produce 1.2 million tonnes of crude oil annually, which he claimed could cover the needs of the province. Before the international embargo on Yugoslavia all crude oil was refined in these two plants. Of this crude oil 20% was produced in Yugoslavia itself; the remainder was imported from abroad.

Despite strict security BHHRG observers were allowed to visit the Naftagas refinery. They met with Vladimir Dopaja, the deputy director, and Pavle Pavlovic, the development manager, who showed them around the site. According to Mr Pavlovic 80% of the refinery had been built in the 1970s and 1980s with western technology and assistance from the USA, the UK and Italy. He pointed out that American planes had been bombing a plant partly built by the American oil company Texaco. More importantly, he maintained that NATO would have been well informed about the construction of the site and thus knew exactly what the consequences would be of bombing certain elements of the refinery. For instance, the bombardments destroyed two of the three separators, which were responsible for removing the water from the oil. As a result of the destruction oil flowed into the Danube which caused ecological damage. Did NATO deliberately cause this? At the time of the first attack on 5 April 74.000 tonnes of oil were still in the refinery, ten percent of total capacity. Most of this went up in flames after subsequent bombings or spilt into the Danube.

In total, the refinery was hit 255 times. Most of these attacks were entirely unnecessary, according to Mr Pavlovic. NATO planners should have known that the destruction of the power plant on the site would shut down the whole refinery for months. The power supply for the refinery was hit in the fifth attack on 18 April and completely destroyed. Since this achieved the stated military goal of preventing the refinery from working to the advantage of the Yugoslav army, all following attacks on the refinery were crimes against humanity, according to Mr Pavlovic, because of their consequent ecological impact and threat to life and health of the citizens of Novi Sad and people down river.

Nevertheless, more attacks followed, notably on 2 May and 8 June, which were described by Mr Dobaja as indiscriminate carpet-bombings. Indeed, a map of the site on which all impacts had been highlighted showed signs of four heavy bombing runs, two on each day. These had not been precision bombardments, yet were very destructive. As Mr Pavlovic pointed out, the second of these attacks came when talks between NATO and Yugoslavia about troop withdrawal were well under way and the G8 and Russia had agreed on a UN resolution.

As a result of the bombings some 50% of the refinery has been destroyed. Attempts are under way to piece together elements of the refinery which are still intact and restart the refinery with far lower capacity. It is estimated that a full reparation of the site would cost 1 billion US dollars.

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 25, 2002
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