US group to buy Albania’s state oil firm

US group to buy Albania’s state oil firm

TIRANA- Agence France-Presse
The U.S.-based consortium Vetro Energy has won a tender to buy Albania’s state oil company Albpetrol, with an offer of 850 million euros ($1.09 billion), Prime Minister Sali Berisha said on Sept. 3.

Besides Vetro Energy - a Chicago-based private investment fund whose offer equals 10 percent of Albania’s gross domestic product (GDP) - four other companies bid in the tender launched by the Albanian government, among them the international consortium Amber Shine, Bankers Petroleum Canada and Chinese Business Win.

Albpetrol produces 135,000 tons per year

Albpetrol is based in Patos, 120 kilometres (70 miles) south of Tirana. The company produces at least 135,000 tons of oil per year and employs some 4,000 people.

The International Monetary Fund mission in Tirana called on Albanian authorities to use the “receipts from privatization of natural resource wealth... primarily to lower debt, but also to clear unpaid government bills.” Albania’s public debt was the highest in the Balkans at 59.9 percent of the country’s GDP.

The government said Vetro Energy would obtain all of Albpetrol’s above-ground assets, including oil and gas fields, with an estimated value of 322 million euros, and the right to explore and exploit oil and gas in Albanian territory for 25 years.