Albania is aiming to use its raw materials industry to kickstart its economy. More than one-point-seven billion dollars has been invested by foreign companies into the country's oil industry just in the last 15 years, with a huge chunk of it coming from China. And now Albania is interested in expanding its collaboration with China in the development of oil, chrome and other raw materials. CGTN's Aljosa Milenkovic has more.
This is black gold of Albania. It originates from Europe's largest onshore oil field, close to the Albanian town of Fier. More than 360 pumps like this one are pumping oil 24 - 7 from oil wells in an area of more than 100 square kilometers. In 2016, Chinese company Geo-Jade Petroleum invested 400 million dollars for the acquisition of this operation. It was the single largest investment in Albania in decades.
ALJOSA MILENKOVIC ALBANIA "Just this field produces 14-thousand barrels of oil per day. And every barrel brings more income to the Albanian budget and more energy stability for the country. That's why this investment is seen here as not just as one of the biggest, but also as one of the most important."
And Geo-Jade Petroleum didn't limit its investment just to acquisition. Over the past year-and-a-half, it has poured nearly 100 million dollars into production expansion and modernization. A move welcomed by the host country.
ALBANA SHKURTA DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMY "Chinese investors are welcome to invest in the country or to consider Albania as an investment destination, primarily through mergers and acquisitions. We are currently looking at opportunities from Chinese investors in various fields of the economy. In sectors such as mining, energy, infrastructure."
China is the single largest investor in the Albanian economy, with investments topping 800 million dollars.
LIANG GANG, ECONOMIC AND COMMERCIAL COUNSELLOR EMBASSY OF PRC IN ALBANIA "The Albanian government has identified energy, agriculture, tourism and infrastructure as the four major areas of its economic development. China is also aligned with those planning policies of the Albanian government."
But analysts suggest that China shouldn't stop there, pointing out that Albania has a lot of other raw materials that it can offer.
ALTIN HOTI MESDHETAR UNIVERSITY, TIRANA "China is a very rare or I'd say a biggest mono consumer of raw minerals. And in this context, investing in this sector would be a very profitable and interesting for Albanian economy and Albanian growth."
In a country of just under three million people, many Albanians are emigrating to Western Europe, resulting in lost investment opportunities. Attracting the world's largest foreign investor here appears to be one of the prime goals of the Albanian economy. Aljosa Milenkovic, CGTN, Tirana.