Very honourable President Erdoğan
Dear friend Binali
Distinguished Heads of States
Prime ministers and guests
I would like to start with a question maybe no one expects here, “Can Albania be the next Oil Frontier?” In fact this is the very same question “Forbes” posed about only a few years back.
“After a troubled past, resource-rich Albania is trying to modernize itself into a good place to do business, and with astonishing success. Unlike the rocky tale of Albania itself, the latest oil development stories are bound to have a much happier ending”, went on “Forbes” describing our country.
What this article didn’t mention, is that the curiosity for the Albanian oil-resources dates since before the creation of the Albanian Independent State.
When the drilling started back in early 1900, headlines of that time considered Albania the new Persia of Europe. Time showed those promises to be overoptimistic, but still, our country has large unexploited resources that can make us potentially a new oil frontier miles away from the heat of the Middle East.
Over the decades oil has been a great source for development for Albania, but in the new world context no country can afford to push a personal agenda for the future utilizations of its petroleum reserves.
This is the reason why we are here today, and one of the main purposes of this Congress is to continue to enable open high-level debates on common Energy security challenges in the context of regional and global economic volatility and complexity.
All of this comes in the middle of a critical transition in the energy industry. Due to an increased need for more energy and a cheaper price for it, we have come to realize that not only we have to step up efforts for more efficiency and diversification, but we also have to come to an understanding that we must act all together.
The last governmental cooperation with private sector companies interested in conducting business in our countries, is very important to ensure a stable and steady growth of the oil sector. Our government considers the energy sector a strategic one, and the main focus is to increase the security of energy supply for the Albanian consumers and continue the progress towards greater integration of the Albanian energy market into our regional Western Balkan market and broadly the European market.
And the petroleum Industry, as a main part of the Energy sector in Albania, is very important due to a number of factors, and I would emphasize as very important the fact that Albania is located in the crossroads between East and West like a true bridge.
And because of our geographical location, Albania will sit over one of the most important energy routes in the World, the TAP Pipeline which will start to flow gas from the Caspian Sea region to the heart of Europe in 2019.
We believe to have achieved a lot, with the aim to creating a proper agenda of energy sector development, energy security, regional cooperation, all the while looking out for a more diverse portfolio of its energy package.
And without entering into small details, let me tell you that we sit over one of the largest operating onshore oilfield in Europe, and after almost two decades of chaotic development, a legacy of a troubled past, our government has now a clear strategy which offers legal protection and fiscal incentives for any investments made in this sector.
Our wider petroleum strategy focuses on the diversification of petroleum energy resources, increase of crude oil production, auction of free oil and gas blocks, based on competitive procedures, increase of refining capacities since most of crude oil is exported, increase the storage capacity and restructuring the petrol stations, and improve alignment and integration of the Albanian energy sector legal framework with the EU’s energy acquis, with the regional and EU energy markets. And we are also in a process of going on with a scenario of privatization or restructuring of our state-owned company, Albpetrol.
So, nowadays there is a lot to talk about. Albania and a possible bright future in case we are successful in engaging serious private partners, but we are very encouraged by the presence of SHELL and by the latest news of having found a large resource of gas in Albania.
The whole strategy is based on the successful completion of the TAP Pipeline. After its completion, we very much hope that with the support of the European Union, and committed to extend TAP with the Adriatic-Ionian Pipeline, going through Montenegro-Bosnia and Croatia and with a second branch, which we very much hope will be successful, Albania, Kosovo and Serbia.
So, for all the aforementioned reasons, I believe this is probably the best moment to invest in the Albanian petroleum and gas industry. So, in conclusion, let me go back again to the first question I posed: Can Albania become a new frontier of the oil industry? I truly believe that we have every opportunity to do so, a clear strategy, and what’s more important, plenty of oil and gas reserves. But to succeed, we need to work together. That’s why I’m very thankful to President Erdoğan for his support and the close cooperation we have with the Turkish government in order to strengthen first and foremost our knowledge based on the very successful story of Turkish gas and oil sector development.
And at the end, we can all stick with one another and plan a lot more for a better future for all of our countries, our peoples, and many of the companies present here.
All in all, as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk has put it, “mankind is a single body and each of us, are the cells that make the body work”.