Albanian aspirations and the Velca Block: Q&A with new Pennine chairman Richard Wadsworth (Part 1 of 2)
Nov. 17, 2016
Few people know the Albanian energy landscape like Richard Wadsworth.
On Nov. 8, 2016, Mr. Wadsworth was appointed chairman of Pennine Petroleum Corporation (TSX-V: PNN). Formerly an independent director with Pennine since January 2016, Mr. Wadsworth was a co-founder of Bankers Petroleum Ltd., the largest direct foreign investor in Albanian history.
Mr. Wadsworth was president and chief operating officer (COO) of Calgary-based Bankers from 2004 through 2008—guiding the company as its production of heavy oil rose from 500 to more than 6,000 barrels per day (bpd), and its reserves swelled to an estimated 150 million barrels.
With a well-developed, hands-on understanding of Albania’s oil industry, and deep experience in dealing with Albania’s Ministry of Energy and Industry, Mr. Wadsworth will be working with management to steer Pennine’s strategies and activities in Albania—including the expected conclusion to a production sharing agreement (PSA) in Albania’s Velca Block.
Mr. Wadsworth recently visited Albania for discussions on the state of the Velca Block PSA.
In Part 1 of our two-part Q&A, Mr. Wadsworth discusses Pennine’s opportunities in the southeastern European republic.
Q: How would you describe Albania’s energy potential?
A: Albania is believed to have tremendous natural resources. To date, there have been few exploration successes in Albania—yet the Bankers fields represent one of the largest oilfields in Europe. The petroleum system is clearly very strong. The Albanian government is looking for the technical expertise to explore and develop such potential resources, and is always looking for new partners to take on their open exploration blocks.
Q: What sense do you have about how the Albanian government and oil industry view Pennine?
A: We have a view of the Velca Block and its potential. With our technical and Albanian experience, we hope to be able to pursue this and be a strong partner to Albania to find resources on the Velca Block—and, potentially, other opportunities in the future.
Q: Where do things stand with the Velca Block PSA negotiations?
A: It appears from my most recent trip to Albania that there are no remaining items of negotiation, and that it’s now a matter of having a license agreement concluded between Albania’s National Agency of Natural resources (AKBN) and Albpetrol Sh. A. (Albania’s national oil company). This would set the final legal framework for us to enter into the PSA with Albpetrol. Additionally, with a federal election coming up in Albania next summer, it is my belief that the government would like to conclude several of its outstanding PSAs to show further progress towards its energy policies and initiatives undertaken during their recent term.
(In Part 2 of our Albanian Aspirations Q&A series, Mr. Wadsworth discusses the timeline and considerations around the Velca Block PSA.)