Albanian aspirations and the Velca Block: A Q&A with new Pennine chairman Richard Wadsworth: (Part 2 of 2)
Nov. 30, 2016
From Patos-Marinza to Tirana to the Velca Block, Richard Wadsworth has a wealth of experience on Albania’s oil and gas exploration scene.
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. He also led Anglo Albanian Petroleum, a joint venture company of Premier Oil, from 2001 through 2004, and was instrumental in developing Albania’s Patos-Marinza heavy oilfield—the largest in Europe.
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 2 of our two-part Q&A, Mr. Wadsworth discusses the timeline and the considerations around the Velca Block PSA.
Q: What does your experience at Bankers mean in dealing with Albania’s government and energy industry circa 2016?
A: While my experience and track record in Albania speak for themselves, governments, people and energy policies change. Albania has certainly seen very positive changes since my first visit in 1999, through my Premier Oil/Anglo Albanian and Bankers days, and in the years since then. The country continues to develop and move forward towards European Union (EU) integration, rule of law and transparency—and, accordingly, I believe past experience remains extremely relevant today.
Q: How do you approach these negotiations?
A: What I find most important in working with government is to have a strong connection and desire to do business in Albania first—not just for your company, but also for the betterment of the country and its people. In conjunction with strong ethics, economic principles, transparency, and an understanding of Albanian culture, this desire can pave the way—and create success for everyone involved.
Q: What important considerations are in play on the Albanian landscape in moving the Velca Block PSA through to completion?
A: As companies, investors and shareholders, we struggle with contracts and their timelines to completion. I don’t find the pace of our negotiations towards a contract in the Velca Block to be significantly different than many other jurisdictions internationally. Furthermore, we should also recognize that our priorities are not the government’s priorities. They have many other challenges they are dealing with simultaneously—not the least of which recently included new strategic energy industry directions and the successful conclusion to the Bankers/Geo-Jade Petroleum sale. Since the initial announcements of the last bid round, no other contracts have yet been signed. This includes a couple of potential contracts with much larger companies—which, along with the status of our own discussions, gives me further comfort that we can get this concluded in timely fashion.