Great Albanian Oil Robbery

Published by LEFTEAST

Melting-pot di voci e opinioni provenienti dai Balcani, LeftEast è un media on-line, apertamente schierato a sinistra, che raggruppa e ripubblica in inglese i contenuti più interessanti provenienti dall’Europa dell’Est. Lo scopo: proporre un’alternativa ai tradizionali stereotipi balcanici e divulgare la produzione intellettuale di questa parte del mondo.

Qui un articolo sullo sfruttamento del suolo albanese da parte delle compagnie petrolifere e le disastrose conseguenze, sull’ambiente, la salute, ma anche sul fisco. 

The last time I wrote about the oil industry in Albania was the spring of 2015. An enormous eruption of natural gas and oil occurred near the village of Patos-Marinzë, in southern Albania, where the Canadian-based company Bankers Petroleum has been drilling for years. Some people got injured, homes were partially destroyed and, more importantly, many inhabitants of the area and of nearby villages have continuously reported an increasing number of diseases linked to this environmental pollution, even some cases of unexpected cancer symptoms. Public uproar forced the Albanian government to investigate the deeds of the company, which, notwithstanding the recent explosions, has always claimed that the environmental pollution is an effect of previous and environmentally hostile technology, for which it is not responsible.

A thorough investigation by the governments’ fiscal institutions reached the conclusion that Bankers Petroleum has been responsible for almost $50 million in tax evasion. It accomplished this by a series of shadow subcontracting deals with adjacent companies, whose rate of profit has sometimes reached an abnormal 50-70%, allegedly false reports of its revenues and a swelling of input and technological costs. The Albanian government decided to freeze Bankers Petroleum’s bank accounts and fine it $57 million.

What is happening more than a year and a half later? Bankers Petroleum has threatened to bring the Albanian government to international courts for commercial discrimination. Due to the pressure, the parties have agreed to solve their dispute by referring to two international auditing firms. In the meantime the Albanian government unfroze Bankers Petroleum’s accounts and forced it to pay 10% of the fine, plus an additional $4.3 million each month, until a common verdict was reached by the auditing firms. Unfortunately for Albania, these firms, while acknowledging some of the irregularities of Bankers Petroleum, decided in the latter’s favor. This means that the Albanian government should return to the company not only what it was forced to pay until then, but also exempt it from paying the rent for the last year of its activity in Albanian mines.