Remarks by Ambassador Donald Lu at the Petroleum Sector Development Workshop

Minister Gjiknuri, Minister Ahmetaj, colleagues,

My colleagues dared me to start today’s workshop with an energy joke.  Here goes:

Why did the gardener plant a light bulb?

He thought he would get a power plant!

Albania has been pulling energy from the ground for more than 100 years.  Crude oil was first discovered at Patos Marinza, one of continental Europe’s largest oil fields, in 1926.

But when I talk to people from Fieri, I do think that they are sometimes angry that they do not see the benefits of such a rich source of oil and gas wealth.  My colleagues from the U.S. State Department want to support your efforts to create a regulatory and legal framework that will help the Albanian people get the most out of their oil and gas.

I would like to thank Minister Ahmetaj and Minister Gjiknuri for their leadership in helping to organize today’s workshop.

I would also like to thank our visitors from the State Department, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the United States Geological Survey for participating in this workshop.

Despite its long history of oil exploration, Albania’s onshore and offshore oil and gas reserves remain largely undeveloped.

American companies have long recognized Albania’s oil and gas potential, but say the legal and business environment has made investment difficult.  Corruption, contract sanctity, and bureaucratic paperwork are problems often cited.

I hope your international partners can help you address these problems.  You have our support and we welcome your commitment to improve conditions for fair competition with high environmental and ethical standards.