Russian-Serbian Company Wins Right to Exploit Albanian Oil

A company whose shareholders include Russian state-owned giant Gazprom Neft and Serbian oil company NIS has won Albania’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy tender for the use of the oil deposits found in the south of the country.

According to documents published by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), the ministry announced Transoil Group AG the tender winner, encroaching on the equality principle of the tender, while also being aware of a flagrant conflict of interest involving Transoil and another company, Albpetrol.

Transoil Group is registered in Switzerland and its owners are as yet unknown. Its Albanian branch is run by Shefqet Dizdari and has business ties to Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russia’s state-controlled gas giant Gazprom. Transoil was founded in 2011 in the Swiss canton of Zug and operates in Russia, Belarus, and Albania. It is the full owner of Transoil Group Sh.a., an Albanian company that has been using the oil field of Visoka since 2011, via an oil agreement with Albpetrol.

The documents reveal Transoil Group AG is responsible for several infractions and, according to a fair assessment shouldn’t have won the state contract.

The company has not paid the $6500 fee per oil deposit, a condition set by Albpetrol, within the deadline. It completed its payments 4 days after the bidding had opened. Therefore, until April 4, 2018, the Albpetrol bank account was empty. The Ministry denies this, telling BIRN that the payments were made on March 30, 2018.

The Ministry did not tell BIRN who the shareholders of the Swiss company were, but it did stress that they were not Gazprom Neft or NIS.

“According to the information we have, none of the companies you mention have any rights in the oil agreement Transoil Group signed with the Albanian government,” the Ministry stated. “Meanwhile, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy to be aware of a company’s possible commercial transactions with other objects outside of the oil agreement.”