US-based LNG company Excelerate Energy and American multinational oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Albania’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy to conduct a feasibility study for the potential development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) Project in the Port of Vlora in the Southern part of the country.
Under the MOU, Excelerate will conduct a study to explore the potential of an integrated LNG to power solution that includes developing an LNG import terminal, converting and/or expanding the existing Vlora thermal power plant and establishing small scale LNG distribution to Albania and the surrounding Balkans region.
“As Albania looks to improve energy security and resiliency, we are confident that an LNG solution would provide reliability to the country’s power grid while complementing intermittent renewables and alternative resources,” stated Steven Kobos, President and Chief Executive Officer of Excelerate. “We are pleased to work with our partners in developing a reliable and affordable solution for Albania’s energy resilience.”
Home to eight major river systems, Albania relies on hydropower plants, which can become unreliable during times of drought, to supply energy to the country’s 2.8 million residents. LNG would bring reliable, affordable, and cleaner energy to the region and complement Albania’s hydropower-based electricity production.
“Supply diversification and the enhancement of supply security are crucial to Albania and to our Balkan neighbours as well,” said the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Belinda Balluku. “We are confident that LNG can be the key to achieving these strategic objectives and to finally providing a solution to the complex Vlora TPP project by choosing the best partners, equipped to deliver a project of such magnitude.”
ExxonMobil will lead the charge on identifying opportunities to support the supply of LNG into Albania and the LNG Import Project, as a project of National Strategic Importance.
“LNG enables transportation of natural gas from supply centres to customers safely and cost-effectively,” said Ed Austin, ExxonMobil LNG Strategy and Portfolio Manager. “While we are at the early stages of exploring this opportunity, ExxonMobil’s global resources and reliable LNG supply chain can help Albania meet its fast-growing demand for natural gas and ensure long-term supply security.”
The pre-feasibility report is expected to be delivered in the third quarter of 2021, while the targeted start-up for the LNG Import Project could be as early as 2023.
US Ambassador to Albania Yuri Kim has defined the signing of the MoU as groundbreaking.
“The United States has long supported NATO Ally Albania’s unique role in advancing European energy security,” she said. “The facilities at Vlora will mark an important step toward expanding Europe’s access to diverse and reliable energy resources. A Europe secure in its sources of energy is a stronger partner in achieving our shared goals in the region and around the world.”
Ambassador Kim also underlined how Vlora would be a big step forward in addressing energy and climate change challenges in the region ending the reliance on ageing coal-fired power plants throughout the Balkans. Albania’s diverse energy mix of hydro, solar, wind and now LNG would position Albania to be a net energy exporter and partner in the effort to meaningfully address climate change.
Photo: Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Belinda Balluku Twitter account.