The energy of the Eagles

The energy of the Eagles

Giancarlo Strocchia
Active in the energy industry since mid ‘50s, Albania is experiencing a period of great revival, especially with regards to the exploration of gas fields in the southern Adriatic. We discussed this the issue with Ilia Gjermani, Head of the Oil & Gas sector of the Ministry of Energy in Tirana

The Adriatic is a basin where the launch of oil and gas extraction activities dates back over 60 years. Albania, whose energy history began in the early ”50s, is not new to this sector. In 1955, the first exploration activities were launched, but the use of gas for industrial purposes was not discovered until 1963, thanks to the exploitation of the gas field of Bubullima (in the Kallm area), followed by the Divjaka gas field in 1964. The highest peak in gas production in Albania was recorded in 1982, with a total of 0.937 bcm, which was followed by a sudden decline, reaching the lowest level of natural gas production in 1990, with 12 Mmc per year. Currently, there are approximately 20 natural gas production wells, with a minimum production of 200-300 Nm3 per day. Moreover, according to data provided by the National Agency of Natural Resources (the NANR), geological reserves of natural gas amount to 18,163.7 million Nm3, with a total exploited quantity of 12,503,725,787 Nm3 (2014). An increasingly evolving situation, evidently, in the pursuit of certain important economic reforms that have recently involved the Land of the Eagles and also due to the productive dynamism of certain "neighbors" such as Croatia. Moreover, due to its geographical location, Albania is the territory of passage for some of the main energy infrastructures that are expected to put into effect the diversification strategy of gas supplies to Europe. This has been confirmed by Ilia Gjermani, Head of Oil Sector for Policies and Development of Hydrocarbons of the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Albania.

What is the current situation of the energy industry in Albania and which projects concern the development of maritime activities in the Adriatic Sea?

There are currently some exploration activities in progress in the Adriatic Sea, carried out by certain companies that have been granted licenses. Only one block, among those of relevance in Tirana, is free. In 2015, Albania offered 7 offshore and onshore blocks located between the Southern and Southeastern part of the country, in Dumre, in the center of Albania, then in the Ionian 5 and Rodoni area. The explorations could last up to 5 years, with an extension of up to 7 years.

For the development of Albania, how important is the energy industry?

I think that energy development is extremely important, not only for Albania, but for every country in the world; it is a strategic industry and its consolidation is essential. The government of Albania is strongly focused on energy development, according to our strategy, in compliance with the guidelines established by the Energy Community Secretariat, based in Vienna, of which our country is part.

Albania has some important pipeline projects in progress. For example, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) from Turkey, from Azerbaijan, and other pipelines. What is Albania's commitment to these projects?

The people of Albania have, since the beginning, been heavily committed to the development of the pipeline. Specifically, their commitment and involvement in terms of the TAP gas pipeline has been very strong, since Albania is not connected to international oil or gas pipelines. For this reason, we are therefore very interested in connecting Albania to these international pipelines, especially gas pipelines, and we support the TAP. As you know, the process for the TAP in Albania is already in progress. We have already provided all necessary permits for the implementation of this important infrastructure.

In terms of renewable energy, or clean energy, what is Albania's position?

As I said, Albania is part of the Energy Community and we have some obligations to follow in the framework of the 20-20-20 directive. Moreover, we have a special national plan on renewable and secure energy. Therefore, by the end of 2020, 38% of our energy needs should come from renewable energy.