20.07.2021 – 20:52
An American company that aims to introduce Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Albania, has signed a memorandum of cooperation to study the possibility of a gas pipeline in the country. Texas-based Excelerate Energy will partner with Snam and Albgaz to explore this opportunity. The president and CEO of the American company, Steven Kobos, told VOA that this is in the continuation of the feasibility study for the floating terminal and the Vlora power plant. He told his colleague Keida Kostreci that the objective is to enter the market and integrate Liquefied Natural Gas as an energy source in the region.
Voice of America: Mr. Kobos, Excelerate signed another memorandum of understanding with Albania, with the companies Snam and Albgaz, this time to study the possibility of a gas pipeline in Albania that would start from Vlora and help with energy resources in the country. What does Excelerate plan to achieve with this project?
Steven Kobos: We are enthusiastic about the memorandum we signed last week, with Snam, an important European partner based in Italy, as well as Albgaz. This is in fact a continuation of the existing feasibility work that Excelerate is doing in cooperation with the company Exxon Mobil regarding the possibility of a terminal for the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Vlora. We will set up a commission with Snam and Albgaz and look at what further opportunities can be created for the development of gas infrastructure in Albania.
Voice of America: The fact that you say that this is an addition to the feasibility study that you started a few months ago, suggests that you now have a clearer idea of that study. Can you tell us in more detail how these projects complement each other?
Steven Kobos: We have had a team of engineers and a trading team in Albania, our US engineers with our existing partner Exxon Mobil are working on the terminal study. The goal is for the feasibility study to be completed within the third quarter of this year. The effort that is focused on the Vora power plant and its expansion continues, but at the same time we are beginning to see what are the other aspects through which we can improve that project through further investments in infrastructure.
This is a normal process when considering the possibility of opening up a market for LNG, to study how to better integrate it across the market and the wider region.
Voice of America: And what place would this project occupy in the context of other energy projects in the country, including TAP?
Steven Kobos: Snam owns a 20 percent stake in TAP along with other entities. We will see all the alternatives. We are looking at the possibility of underground storage, various interconnection points. So we are looking at how we could expand the use of the import terminal with the idea to make the most of the infrastructure we want to bring to the country.
Voice of America: So, would it be a complementary energy supplier for Albania? How would it work?
Steven Kobos: Yes. This is how most of our markets around the world evolve. First a basic project is found, feasibility is determined, to justify the investment in infrastructure for the LNG import terminal itself. It then studies how you can integrate it within the country, how you can provide better benefits and add other elements, which separately may not be justifiable, but together make the project more important for honestly for Albania as a GNL collection point and as a consumer of this gas. Therefore, I think it is important for the role that Albania can play in the region.
Voice of America: What form would this role of Albania in the region have as an energy liaison through these projects if they are implemented?
Steven Kobos: Improving interconnection is definitely a benefit, but we need to sit down with our partners Snam and Albgaz because we all have experience building infrastructure and pipelines and see every opportunity because we want to find the widest possible market for Natural Gas. Liquid.
Voice of America: Do you have any concrete figures in mind regarding the investment?
Steven Kobos: Not yet, because we have not completed the feasibility study, but I think that given the stature of the parties that have signed the two memoranda of cooperation, it is clear that there is interest in investing in Albania.
Voice of America: And what is expected in terms of timing, when will this study be completed and when can this new project start?
Steven Kobos: My goal is that as we said to complete the feasibility study of Vlora as we said within the third quarter of this year and I think we can have a final decision to invest in the time frame of the first quarter of next year, based on the information highlight the feasibility study. And if these deadlines are met, then the project may be ready to start in 2023. That for the memorandum we signed in March. For additional infrastructure, I would like to discuss further with Snam and Albgaz, before anticipating a timeline. But we will start right away. In fact we have already started.
Voice of America: Energy is not only an economic issue for the region and the world but also a geopolitical issue. So, when energy is provided by projects like yours for Albania and the region, it means that this energy is not being received by other actors. How do you see your role in this context?
Steven Kobos: We all know that the energy security of any country is of primary interest. You can not have sustainable economic growth without access to clean, affordable and abundant energy. It is critical. This is nothing new. What we have seen with Excelerate is that some customers are focused on the maximum amount of LNL they can enter in a gas thirsty market. But many of our customers are focused on security of supply and that no interruption, whether for technical, geopolitical reasons or of any other nature, has a negative impact on their economy. So it is not a new consideration and we think it is one of the valuable aspects of LNG. The cost of infrastructure is lower, especially if you choose the floating terminal alternative. And yet it can quickly reach a supply capacity from zero, up to one billion cubic meters per day in some markets. So we are proud of the role we offer in securing supply in many of our markets. And I think this is a valuable aspect of what Albania would get from a LNG project, increased security of supply.
Voice of America: The fact that you have undertaken this study for this new project means something about the investment climate in Albania, including American investments. But there are still many concerns regarding stability and how suitable the environment is especially for investments of this size. What is your opinion about this type of environment and do you have any concerns in this regard?
Steven Kobos: I would say that Albania enjoys a very good reputation in the United States and obviously if we did not think we could have a favorable investment climate, we would not spend all those funds on the engineering aspect that we are currently spending because we will not to want to throw money in vain. There are many places where we do not undertake engineering and feasibility efforts because we may have doubts whether we can achieve a favorable result. We believe that we can achieve a favorable investment result in Albania if our engineering work and basic feasibility and economy assessments work. So I have a high level of confidence that we will achieve a climate where appropriate investments can be made if the basic merits of the project are guaranteed. / VOA /