In Albania, there has been more and more talks on gas, but this commodity has not yet arrived in the taps of Albanian consumers. Not even the necessary laws have been adopted for this sector. This is also admitted by government experts in the recently published plan on the development of this sector, which has become official now. “Albania still doesn’t have access in the international natural gas markets”, they admit, adding that the initial and very important obstacle which doesn’t allow for the moment for gas to arrive in our homes, is the solution of the issue of properties. “As it is the case with every other infrastructure, the construction of the gas infrastructure depends on the solution of land ownership rights”, experts argue. On the other hand, they also point out the fact that “not all provisions that relate to the opening of the market have been in line with the European Commission laws”, appealing for deadlines for the opening of the gas market to be set as soon as possible. “Trading of gas needs a contractual framework as far as supply is concerned”, the development plan for the sector of gas further states, starting with the agreements concerning economic management, the handling of relations with land owners and companies that transport or distribute gas. “A regulatory system must be put in place for the transmission, distribution, storage and terminals of liquid natural gas”, experts also say. All of these elements give the impression that here in Albania, not only there’s not a practical launch of procedures for the functioning of the gas market , but the day when gas will flow in the taps of Albanian consumers is still far.
Within the month of September 2018, the ministry of Infrastructure and Energy needs to prepare and send to the National Territory Council the material dubbed “Master plan for natural gas in Albania and the identification of priority projects in the domain of natural gas”. This deadline is decided in the development plan for the natural gas sector in our country
Gas prices in Albania the same as in Europe
Gas prices in Albania are expected to be almost the same as the prices paid by European citizens for this important energy commodity. This is confirmed by experts in the development plan for this sector, adding that “charges that will be applied in Albania will be harmonized with EU charges”, because according to them, this will make the integration of the Albanian gas network with the EU’s one easier. “In the long-run, it is inevitable that the Albanian gas network will become part of the EU network, therefore, the structure of charges that will be applied in Albania, must be in harmony with it”, experts argue. They also say that given that gas that will arrive in Albania, will also pass in other countries, the gas carrier is entitled to request particular charges here, referring to the entry points and exit points for gas in the territory of Albania. Meanwhile, there’s also the method of setting a fixed charge for the transport of gas within an area covered by the gas system. But, the Albanian side has not yet decided which one of these two options it will apply in the future.
Market should be liberalized, as it would regulate prices
“Competition in the gas market must not be restricted in the wholesale or retail market”. This is an advice that government experts provide in the development gas market in the country. According to them, the liberalization of this market would have a positive impact on the prices that this important product would be sold in our country. “The opening of the gas market is necessary to improve the climate of investments and to promote the involvement of other players. Both wholesale and retail prices need to be liberalized”, experts say, also asking for the gas transmission operator and the distribution operator to be separated.
Will Albpetrol continue to transmit and distribute gas?!
As soon as Albania has access in international gas corridors, it is said that the existing company, “Albpetrol” will remain in the “game”. “It will play an important role in the planning and development of Albania’s connection with the regional pipeline and it will also secure further support in its gasification. However, Albpetrol may become the gas transmission operator only if it meets all the requirements of the new law regarding the gas sector”, the gas development plan states, adding that the current license of the company will be reconfirmed by the Power Regulatory Authority if it meets the new criteria. Let us recall that Albpetrol is the main company operating in the area of natural gas, which has received a special license by ERE in 2012 for the transmission and the distribution of gas in the areas where it has pipes, covering around 500 km, for which the government admits that they are mainly non-functional. “In reality, it currently operates only 10 km of transmission and distribution network and supplies small enterprises and households in the town of Kucova. It is expected to be an active operator and independent as soon as the infrastructure for the gas transmission is rebuilt and becomes functional”, experts also say.