Prime Minister Edi Rama’s at the ceremony for installation of the turbo compressors at the TAP’s compressor station in Fier:
“Southern Gas Corridor is integral part of the European Union’s efforts to diversify energy resources and reduce reliance on gas supplies from politically unstable regions,” The Financial Times wrote in May 2016.
The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline project (TAP) will turn Albania into a strategic energy hub in Europe. The advantages of the pipeline’s crossing through the territory of Albania are numerous. Many of them we have already directly discovered during the whole construction phase of the pipeline’s section, but the project will keep on producing continuous benefits.
We have come together today to attend the ceremony for a key work as part of this project, an investment of truly extraordinary proportions, extending into an area equal to 25 football pitches. Worth of really noting is the fact that by the end of April 2018, the teams working on the construction of the compressor station have shown a brilliant performance with more than 1 million hours of work and zero workplace injuries, despite the terrain and the work intensity and despite the natural risk this work carries.
I would like to emphasize I am proud of the fact that when the construction works kicked off, the party which finances and manages the project voiced concern that Albania could become a hurdle due to the bureaucracy and the problems that might arise in the relations between the company and the public administration. Today, for sometimes now, the party that invests and manages the project has repeatedly said that to their surprise, they faced no hurdles and no delays in terms of administrative relations of whatsoever although the process requires an array of permits to be issued and often complex procedures and potentially difficult relations with various communities in Albania.
This is a positive example and evidences that commitment to such projects, but also to well-coordinated and well-structured public projects, can lead to zero administrative problems, ensuring quality and speed.
No delays have been reported to date in all parts of the project. The project is well the predefined agenda and the prescheduled calendar phases.
This station, which will become operational by, is expected to employ more than 250 local workers, whereas another 100 new jobs have been created by the contracting firms engaged in the project’s development in Fier, Tirana, Elbasan and Korça and which are indispensable to the project’s progress. Worth of mentioning is the fact that local residents and workers represent over 70 percent of the workforce engaged in the project’s development. This brings important economic impact, but it also helps in developing professional and technical skills in constructing this incredible infrastructure, whereas companies profit a lot in this respect.
I would also like to emphasize that thanks to the negotiations led by Minister Gjiknuri, we have succeeded in including a program of environmental and social investment in the final contract, which was achieved also thanks to the readiness of the other signing party to accept this social responsibility in our country. Various local communities have witnessed a range of interventions carried out in Fier, Roskovec, Çorovode and so on, while other projects are underway to fulfil this social responsibility program and to ease old wounds in different communities the pipeline passes through.
Making this work operational will be a significant contribution to Europe’s environmental future too. On the other hand, our government is committed to maximize all the benefits stemming from this strategic project, by not just being a transit country of the Caspian gas to Europe. To this end, from the outset we have been working in parallel and today we have prepared the National Gas Master Plan, a comprehensive document of defined objectives and goals, which regulates the whole map of actions for our country’s gasification.
The Master Plan clearly identifies that the first major beneficiary area, but not only the gas beneficiary in Albania, but also as the strategic area for this novelty in the Albanian economy, will be the triangle Ballsh-Fier-Patos. The Master Plane itself consolidates Fier as a main hub of the hydrocarbon and gas industry in our country and envisages the abovementioned area as a powerful industrial engine of the whole country.
We want to share the benefits stemming from the natural gas pipeline with other countries in the region as a way to strengthen our economic development, but it also empowers integrated development and political stability in the Western Balkans. And in this regard, there are two projects we have already launched discussions and we are encouraging interested investors. On the one hand, the predicted Kosovo branch of the pipeline, with the completion of the high voltage interconnection power line between Albania and Kosovo finally completes the unique energy space of the Albanian nation as an integrated space within the Balkan and European energy networks. On the other hand, the construction of the Adriatic-Ionian pipeline, on which we have launched discussions with partners in Montenegro and Croatia as a key investment on the joint interconnectivity agenda of the Western Balkans, as well as part of our region’s further interconnectivity with the rest of Europe.
I would also point out a collateral benefit from the whole project and which has to do with the latest developments we are seeing in the exploration and development operations in the oilfields, because the quality of work in Albania has attracted a growing interest of leading international companies. Saying this, I don’t mean just the multinational company Shell, a giant with annual revenue almost thirty times higher than the Albania’s Gross Domestic Production, but also other companies, with which we have commenced discussions based on their expressed interest to explore investment opportunities in Albania. Given the encouraging data on the exploration operations in Shpirag and the possibility of being on the eve of a transformational discovery for the country’s economy in the years to come, of course we have reason to be very optimistic about the future. This means that a whole chain of discoveries and development in the field of oil exploration may follow.
To conclude, I would like to express my gratitude and respect to the other party of investors and administrators of this colossal project for their scrupulosity and excellent model in complying with all laws and rules of the Republic of Albania, for their readiness to be in constant dialogue with us and to accept our demands as an added value to this project for communities. Of course, also for the fact they are undoubtedly among the ambassadors of this country, because they are not only enjoying a positive experience in Albania, but also because they do not hesitate to share this positive experience with others, which comes to us as a welcome echo from other companies and other major investors who refer to this project and express an ever growing trust in Albania.
Thank you all!