Western Balkans and EU News
18.09.21 | News

Kosovo PM Albin Kurti to give its “final answer” to USA on natural gas proposal next week ?!

Prishtina, 18 September 2021, dtt-net.com – The government of the Prime Minister Albin Kurti is having its last internal “political consultations” before sending next week its “final answer” to the proposal to USA authorities for gas inter-connector with North Macedonia and a gas-fired power plant with USA natural gas, meant to be imported from Greek port Alexandroupolis through North Macedonia, which so far has been inconclusive and rather negative,  dtt-net.com learns. 

Western sources in capital Prishtina, familiar with the issue, who requested anonymity, said that Kurti’s government has told American counterparts it needs few more days for a final answer over the proposal which has been on the table since last year, and which was endorsed by the previous government led by Avdullah Hoti, but so far is being rejected by Kurti and his associates who took power in March.

“They requested a bit more time to conduct some more political consultations... They said end of next week,” the source told dtt-net.com Friday, after a press conference of Kosovan Minister of Economy and Energy, Artane Rizvanolli, at which she was inconclusive and rather negative about the major project aimed at diversification of energy sources for power production in Kosovo and gasification process for the industry, as the most underdeveloped country in the continent produces 97 percent of its electricity with lignite.

Earlier this month, the same source explained that the government of Kosovo so far was saying in private to American counterparts that “they are likely not investing in gas”.

At Friday’s press conference Rizvanolli was trying to explain the negative mood of the government over the proposal, but failed to make a clear point why, by trying to point to the yet unknown investment cost for a Public –Privat –Partnership ( PPP) and cost of production of electricity with imported natural gas from Greece, in this case for 200MWh.

Last month the public Kosovo Electricity Corporation (KEK), under control of Kurti’s government, announced intentions for a tender to rebuild one of its lignite-fired plants, which technically is seen as a negative answer to the American natural gas proposal. KEK also wants to open a tender on solar plant of 100Mwh.

Apart from Serbia, which uses Russian gas, so far North Macedonia and Albania have already committed for purchasing American LNG and are signing contracts.

North Macedonia is working fast on gas interconnection infrastructure with Greece to import natural gas from Alexandroupolis, and has also become shareholder in a gas storage and gas-fired plant nearby with American gas in Greece.

Albania on its part has signed with Exon Mobile and Excelerate Energy for feasibility study for building a LNG Terminal in port of Vlora (south of capital Tirana), and then with Italian Snam for a gas underground storage and a pipeline to supply a power plant nearby the city.

With deals with the USA companies, Albania and North Macedonia are the two countries in the Balkans joining efforts of other European countries in purchasing more American LNG, aimed at diversification of energy supplies to decrease dependence from Russian gas in the continent. When it comes to gas, on top of wind and solar power existing and future projects, EU countries at the same time are already purchasing 10bcm from Azerbaijan since last year and are preparing to double the capacity of supplies through TANAP and TAP pipelines in next five to six years. A third project, at its initial planning stage includes the East-Med Pipeline project, from Israeli, Cyprus and Greek waters to reach Italy.

Croatia which is already EU member, in January this year made functional its LNG Terminal in Krk with USA LNG and some of its gas is meant to reach the Bosniak-Croat entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The other part of BiH, Serb entity, is using Russian gas as is Serbia, and both are increasing purchases from Russia since the TurkStream became operational in January 2021, which lands in Turkey from the Black Sea and then continues through Bulgaria, Serbia to reach Hungary.

Montenegro just launched Economic Dialogue with the USA government Thursday, at which the energy sources diversification is also part of the topics included in the agenda.

If Kurti government’s final answer next week will be negative, Kosovo would be the only country in the Balkan region rejecting the natural gas from non-Russian source, in this case the American LNG, beside Serb entity in BiH and Serbia which are biggest clients of Russia’s Gazprom in the Western Balkans region.

But government's answer could be reviewed until end of next week, as its ruling coalition partner, the President Vjosa Osmani, today sent a direct message of disagreement to PM Kurti telling local media that Kosovo has "no other way than cooperating with the USA" on the matter.

18.09.21 | News