Honorable Minster Balluku, Assistant Secretary Winberg, honorable guests from Albania and Kosovo, it is a great pleasure for me to be here to launch today’s event discussing the potential of liquefied natural gas for Albania and the region.
Last year, in front of the U.S. Senate, I discussed my priorities if confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to Albania. I noted the importance of promoting and strengthening economic ties between the United States and Albania and working to help provide increased economic opportunities for both U.S. and Albanian businesses.
The United States and Albania have strong ties of friendship and commitment. Still, I believe we can re-double our efforts to improve and strengthen our economic connection.
We are here to talk about opportunity, potential, and new technology in the energy sector.
It is because of that opportunity, I believe, that all of you came here today. Government officials, private sector leaders, and our friends from Kosovo are here to see the potential of a new source of energy from a trusted partner, the United States.
Thanks to a series of innovative breakthroughs, today the United States is the world’s largest producer of natural gas. Liquefied natural gas from the United States is now being shipped all over the world to power homes, businesses, cars, trucks, and buses. From the Netherlands to Italy, LNG is finding its way to Europe, although not yet to Albania.
The benefits of the fuel are many, but I want to mention three of the most important to you. The first is energy security. Diversity of energy supply is crucial and access to fuel from trusted partners is important. Albania knows it can count on the United States, just as the United States knows it can count on Albania.
Second, environmental benefits. LNG has significant environmental benefits compared to other fossil fuels. For example, natural gas emits significantly less carbon dioxide than coal, and has negligible emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Third, strengthening the economy of Albania. As evidenced by the attendance of our friends from Kosovo, there is a strong regional appetite for an affordable, reliable, and environmentally sound form of energy: American LNG. If corresponding infrastructure is developed, Albania can become a regional hub, soon benefiting Albania’s economy and that of the region.
Today I am joined by Minister Balluku and U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Steven Winberg to talk in depth about the potential of liquefied natural gas for Albania and the region. We will also launch a study on the potential for LNG distribution in Albania and the broader region. But the study is just the beginning. We also have private businesses here today too. They will speak about real projects going on in the region, and we will hear about private sector initiatives that are in the works to try and benefit the Albanian economy.
The possibilities from these conversations, not just for the government, but also the average citizen, are many. Yes, there is a potential to finally turn on the long-unused Vlora Power Plant; but there is also the possibility for Albanians to have access to cheaper, cleaner fuel when you get in your car to go to the store or ride the bus to get to work. It could also be a step in the right direction towards ensuring consistent power in your homes and decreasing expensive energy imports. It can power ships traveling to Albania, not just saving them money at the pump, but also decreasing pollution along Albania’s beautiful Ionian and Adriatic coasts.
The future of new energy is now.
It is now my pleasure to turn the floor over to the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, an expert with decades of experience in the energy industry, who will tell you more about this effort.