Paydirt for Feb. 21, 2018: The Land of Eagles, Uncle Sam hold a meeting of the energy minds

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Gjiknuri talks energy security and investment with American counterparts during recent U.S. tour

It was a goodwill tour intended to boost energy co-operation, and the message apparently found some receptive ears.

Earlier this month, Albania’s Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Damian Gjiknuri completed a working visit to Washington and New York—meeting with representatives of the U.S. Department of State and Department of Energy, as well as various members of Congress and leaders of private energy firm.

The intent was to deepen energy co-operation, discuss energy security in the Balkans and Europe, and encourage U.S. energy investment in Albania, which is poised to become a European energy axis thanks to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, the Southern Gas Corridor and the proposed Ionian Adriatic Pipeline.

“Albania is central to the delivery of natural gas to Italy through the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and the spur north to the Balkans via the Trans Ionian Pipeline,” notes Pennine’s Chief Executive Officer N. Desmond Smith. “And all these lines are constructed proximal to the largest oil fields in Europe, and activities of Shell and Pennine.”

Albania’s Patos-Marinza is the largest onshore oil field in Europe. Royal Dutch Shell recently began drilling its fourth appraisal well in the Shpirag deposit, while Pennine Petroleum Corporation (TSX-V: PNN) is readying to drill its first well in the nearby Velca Block, as part of a joint venture with Albpetrol Sh.A, Albania’s national oil company.

Kastriot Bejtaj, chairman of the Velca Block PSA, recently commented: “The Velca Block is considered by Albpetrol experts as a low-geological-risk asset at the optimal depth.”

The U.S., of course, has become the world’s third-largest oil producer, thanks to the American shale revolution in recent years.

While in the U.S., Gjiknuri met with Sue Saarnio, the Department of State’s Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs, as well as Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

News media outlets reported that the U.S. has underscored its interest in continuing to offer its expertise in the area of oil exploration and production—in particular, management best practices.

“The Velca Block’s medium-gravity oil is of paramount importance in mixing with the heavy oil of Bankers Petroleum—whether it’s transported to domestic refineries, or acting as diluent for the purpose of shipment to European refineries,” says Mr. Smith.

“Either way, Velca Block oil will be a precious resource for Albania—and create prosperity for all parties involved.”