Energetical and Industrial park in Vlora

Albania s historical reliance on hydropower and later dependence on energy imports became unsustainable due to the variable hydrological conditionsTPP Vlore and the boom of power demand by the industry, services and household following the fall of communism. In its efforts to tackle the soaring energy crisis that hit the country around 2000, the Albanian government conceived a plan to construct an industrial and energy Park in Vlora, a coastal city in the south-east of the country. The park was to host a thermo-power plant, hydrocarbons storage and other strategic projects such as the Albania-Macedonia-Bulgaria Oil (AMBO) pipeline outpost.

The National Council of Territorial Adjustment approved the site for the industrial and energy park at the picturesque Vlora Bay in February 2003. The park was designed to boarder the city of Vlora to the south (100 meters from residential areas), the protected Narta lagoon to the north (500 meters) and the Adriatic Sea to the west.

Despite the plans for the extensive development of energy and oil related facilities no strategic environmental assessment (SEA) has been conducted to consider significant environmental effects of the whole complex on the Vlora Bay area in an integrated way. Upon the silent approval of the international creditors that expressed interest to finance some of the park’s components, the Albanian government deployed the “salami approach”, thus avoiding the conducting of an SEA while preferring to have independent assessments on each of the park components.

With limited information available on the project and little opportunities to influence the developments, the local community has perceived the Vlora energy and industry park as a megalomaniac project which poses threat to a local economy dependant on tourism and harms the fragile marine and wetlands ecosystems.

Vlora thermo-power plant

Three international financial institutions – the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank’s International Development Association and the European Investment Bank (EIB) – expressed their interest in financing the combined cycle 97 MW Vlora thermal-power plant promoted by the Albanian Electrical Energy Corporation (KESH). The creditors sealed their investment interest with a EUR 110 million syndicated loan in 2004.

The World Bank, as the lead creditor, was responsible for the project preparation, including the assessment and public consultations. As co-financers to the project, the EBRD and EIB were reliant on information received from the World Bank and were ready to intervene in cases where they would identify inadequacies in the process.

Under such division of labour, the World Bank oversaw the preparation of the environmental impact assessment study (EIA), which was later reviewed upon the EBRD’s request, and the shortcomings were corrected in the addendum to the final EIA released in November 2003. Under the auspices of the World Bank, the project EIA scoping meetings and public hearings took place in Vlora in April and September 2003. Upon signing the project financing in 2004, the EIB and EBRD relied on all the stakeholders’ engagement events occurring in accordance with the Albanian legislation and the World Bank’s standards.

However, in the same year, the inhabitants of Vlora stood up in opposition to the projects, arguing that they had been repeatedly excluded from the decision-making over the energy and oil related developments in their town. Formalised as the Civic Alliance for the Protection of the Vlora Bay (the Alliance), the movement collected 14 000 signatures under a petition against the energy and industrial park and requested a referendum. In April 2005, the Alliance submitted a communication to the UN Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (Aarhus Convention), alleging a violation by the Albanian government in April 2005 of its obligations to consult and inform the public about the territorial allocation of the energy and industry park in Vlora as well as the thermo-power plant project under several articles of the Aarhus Convention.

An investigation in 2007 by the UN Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee showed that the EIA process for the power plant did not provide sufficient opportunities for the town of Vlora to participate in the scoping sessions and public consultations.

A lack of public participation opportunities, as well as environmental controversies surrounding the thermo-power plant project, were also at the core of complaints lodged by the Alliance with the grievance panels at the World Bank and the EBRD in April 2007.

Both institutions approved investigations into the complaints and the EBRD Independent Recourse Mechanism (IRM) released its final Compliance Review Report after a desk top analysis in April 2008.  While the IRM concluded that the EBRD failed to ensure full compliance with its obligations on public consultations related to the location of the Vlora thermo-power plant, and it warranted remedial changes to the Bank’s practices and procedures, it did find the bank to be in non-compliance with its policies vis-a-vis the potential inadequacy of the project EIA consultations.

The World Bank’s Inspection Panel final report is still pending.

Vlora hydrocarbons terminal

In May 2004, the Albanian Council of Ministers granted a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) concession agreement to the Italian investor Petrolifera Italo Rumena for the Vlora coastal terminal which was to store LPG, oil, and its by products. As per the February 2003 decision of the National Council for Territorial Adjustment, the terminal was to be located at the strait of land between the former PVC plant and the seashore, about half a kilometer south of the Vlora thermo-power plant site.  The public ocean-front property was sold to the company for the symbolic price of one euro under the governmental program of incentives giving to the foreign investors. According to the concession, the land will become exclusively Italian after a 30-year period.

The terminal was presented as a specific project that was to be constructed and operated in an isolated way from the Vlora energy and industry park as well as the power plant. The construction works on the terminal were officially launched in September 2007. The project was however the object of fierce local protests, with locals asking for - and being denied on procedural grounds - a referendum on its implementation in October 2007.

In October, 2007, the EBRD announced its intention to finance the coastal terminal with a 15 million euro loan. A due diligence process to determine whether or not the EBRD would finance the terminal had been set in motion, involving consultations on the project s EIA process. Public comments and the quality review of the EIA revealed that the study lacks monitoring and management plans, it does not offer solutions to oil spills and hazardous wastes removal and underestimates the impacts on protected areas. Additionally, the original EIA lacked any mention of resettlement and land compensation issues associated with the terminal, as several families were displaced as a result of project construction.

In June 2008 the EBRD withdrew from the project due to disagreement on the financial terms with the investor. In its official statement, the bank also highlighted the importance of the involvement of the public in decision making.  Although the EBRDs decision has certainly jolted the project,  La Petrolífera Italo Rumena can still ask for financial support from other sources.


In part due to ongoing public protests and political deliberations, the government requested that the National Council of Territorial Adjustment review its decision and restrict the status of the Vlora park to an industrial one in May 2007. Although some of the park’s energy components have been moved to a new energy park in Porto Romano in the city of Durres, Vlora will host a thermo power plant and a hydrocarbons terminal.

The construction on both projects is ongoing. While La Petrolífera Italo Rumena is planning to start operating the terminal in the summer 2009, the Albanian Prime-minister Berisha  announced that the Vlora thermo-power plant should be launched in May 2009.

In December 2007 the Italian energy company ENEL signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Albanian government about construction of a 1 600MW coal fired thermo-power plant located in the area of Porto Romano in the Albanian coastal town of Durres, north of Vlora. At the end of 2008 a Durres Energy and Industry Park park was granted approval from the Regional Council of Territorial Adjustment. It remains to be seen if the Albanian authorities, the project sponsor, as well as potential creditors, have taken lesson from the unfortunate experiences in Vlora.

Porto Romano thermo power plant

As the way out of the current energy crisis, the Albanian government has been promoting a series of new hydropower plants and  carbon-intensiveTermocentrali me qymyr power generation facilities. Among them the Albanian  Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy has instigated a coal-fired Porto Romano thermo-power plant (TPP) near the port city of Durres, eyed by  the Italian energy company Enel.

In December 2007, the Albanian Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy and the CEO of the Italian energy company Enel, Fluvio Conti, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of the energy  sector in Albania. Under the terms of the MoU, Enel agreed to construct a   coal fired thermo power plant (TPP) and a transmission line to Italy.

According to the environmental assessment study, the plant would  consist of two 800 MW coal-fired units, a jetty for handling the  imported coal, a transmission line connecting the local substation to  Tirana s main substation and an undersea transmission line linking the  facility with Italy. Half of the energy produced will be exported to the   Italian market, provoking complaints that Italy is exporting its  pollution to Albania instead of reducing it.

While the Albanian government hopes that the Porto Romano TPP will  improve the country’s energy security, environmentalists see little  sense in increasing the use of highly polluting coal, which would mainly   be imported. Not only would coal power generation increase Albania’s  carbon emissions and dependency on imported fuel, but it is also a  source of significant local pollution, which already exceeds national  limits.


So far, no international development lender has been officially  considering financing for the Porto Romano project. Given the past and  present involvement of international financial institutions in other  fossil fuels backed energy generation projects in Albania, such as the  combined-cycle power plant in Vlora, the Albanian environmental NGO  coalition Ekolevizija calls upon the multilateral development banks and international development donors:

  • Not to consider the Porto Romano TPP for finance.
  • To prioritise sustainable energy projects, particularly in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency, when it comes to review  its three-year investment strategy for Albania at the end of this year.
  • To encourage the Albanian government to find solutions for the energy security of the country via truly renewable energy and energy  efficiency, and specifically to approve substantial regulatory  incentives for the development of renewable energy projects

Study Over the edge: Enel s plans to export its pollution to Porto Romano, Albania
(27 April, 2010)
Studim Rezultatet e pyetësorit mbi TEC-in në Porto Romano
(15 October 2009)
Prezantim Environmental assesment of the Industrial and energetic parks Porto Romano, Durrës, Albania 
(June 2008)
Komente mbi draft strategjinë e BERZH për Shqipërinë
(31 October 2009)

Enel s plans to export its pollution to Albania exposed by new report

Tirana, Albania / Rome, Italy -- Italian energy company Enel plans to construct a 1600 megawatt coal-fired thermal power plant in Porto Romano, Albania would increase Albania s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2.5 times their current level, according to a new report released today by Albanian NGO EDEN Center and CEE Bankwatch Network to coincide with Enel s annual shareholders meeting. The plans also contradict Albania s national energy strategy that sees no major role for coal-fired power in the country s energy sector,

“Over the edge: Enel s plans to export its pollution to Porto Romano, Albania” [1] concludes that with 85 percent of the mooted plant s electricity to be exported to Italy, the project represents a raw deal for Albania and is likely to severely hamper the development of industries in Albania with strong job creation potential such as renewable energy, energy efficiency services or the tourist industry.

Anisa Xhitoni, of EDEN Center, commented: “The benefits from the project for Enel are clear. Building a new power plant in Albania instead of in Italy means that the company does not have to buy emissions allowances, and depending on the carbon price this will mean savings for Enel of between 232.5 and 325.5 million euros per year in 2020. There is more than a suspicion then that Enel is looking to ship its pollution across the Adriatic to Albania, a shocking move to see from a European energy giant and one that should not be tolerated by Enel shareholders.

“Not only is this project completely unnecessary due to several electricity generation projects under construction in Albania already, but the environmental assessment is also of very poor quality. It assesses no technological or fuel alternatives to the plant, says little about the impacts on the local community, says nothing about what will happen to the generated ashes, and fails to examine the project’s serious climate impact.”

Piotr Trzaskowski, Energy and climate coordinator for CEE Bankwatch Network, said: “One of the claims being made by the Albanian government is that this coal-fired power plant is necessary for security of electricity supply. As is so often the case, the security of supply mantra that is used to justify carbon intensive, climate-damaging investments like this one seeks to divert attention from viable clean energy alternatives.

“Potential investors such as the international development banks should be helping countries like Albania undertake energy efficiency and clean energy projects that bring long-term local benefits, not assisting western energy giants get an easy, dirty buck.”

For more information, contact:

Anisa Xhitoni, IFI Monitoring Coordinator
EDEN Center,
Email: anisa.xhitoni AT eden-al.org
Tel:: +355-692 668 898
Skype: anisa_xhitoni

Piotr Trzaskowski, Energy and climate coordinator
CEE Bankwatch Network
Email: piotr.trzaskowski AT bankwatch.org
Tel.: (+48) 509162988
Skype: piotr.bankwatch

Notes for editors:

1. The new report is available in pdf at this link


Further background information about the project is available at this link


Every day is Earth Day

April 22, World Earth Day is here again, reminding us that we have responsibilities beyond our own houses. It is this the day when we should express our special gratitude to our Planet Earth, which supports all forms of life.

It became a tradition now that on the Earth Day many citizens, children, youngsters and elders dedicate some of their time to plant a tree, clean up a public area, inaugurate a garden or  participate in events designed to raise citizen s awareness on the environmental issues.

40 years have already passed since the first day the Earth Day was celebrated. On 22 April 1970, 20 million people joined in one of the largest public manifestations in history, with a view of giving voice to their concern about the environmental situation at the time, and to show their support in Earth defense.

Since that time, Earth Day challenges us to take seriously our job as guardians of the natural environment. It inspires us to think beyond our survival - to act on behalf of this planet that we share together with all of its other residents. If Earth Day makes us think on how to make to make it possible to breathe clean air and drink unpolluted water or live in a save environment,
then it has fulfilled its mission. If Earth Day gets up to worry about the environmental protection, nature and biodiversity, usage of natural resources then it has served its goal.

This year Earth Day in Tirana, Albania was celebrated in a small street covered in red slabs with the name of the Albanian hero -Ismail Qamali-, with a collaboration of  EDEN Cemter, Municipality of Tirana, Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands and UNICEF under the slogan -Take care of me! – Every day is Earth Day-.

The event was opened by the children of the elementary schools who made a parade with recycled materials that were prepared by them. Other pupils walked in parades while exposing the posters with messages and logo awareness, as well as parades with textile bags of painted by the children themselves.

In this 40th year celebration of the Earth Day children promoted positive attitudes toward environmental protection and enhanced the future challenges for each of us. Part of the activity was also showing the handmade artworks that the children of different schools of Tirana did  in the framework of the project CLEEN as well as the promotional materials for waste reduction within the campaign, - Act Now! -
 Increasing individual responsibility is the key to move from awareness toward action. This will bring man closer and in balance with nature. Regardless the role we have in the society: citizen or consumer, producer or promoter, court decision, we all have a common role to play

In conclusion, it should be recalled that the protection of the environment is a process and not an end. Self-amusement should never be an option valuable when dealing with the protection of the basic elements of our lives. So we have to act now! There is not time to wait no longer, each day spent is a day lost on the aim of reaching the natural balance.

New billions for the EBRD must lead to environmentally and socially 'useful' banking, say civil society groups

With the support of 45 civil society organisations from around the world, CEE Bankwatch Network today presented the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with a set of proposals that seek to modify the development bank's lending practices to bring about real social and environmental improvements in central and eastern Europe. [1]

The EBRD is currently engaged in a fourth review of its capital resources, and for the 2010-2015 period it is requesting a 50 percent capital increase - an extra EUR 10 billion - from shareholder governments. [2]

Pippa Gallop, interim EBRD co-ordinator of Bankwatch, said: “This level of capital increase request from the EBRD suggests that the bank is in buoyant, expectant mood following its response to the economic crisis, in which it has been credited with saving central and eastern Europe’s banking systems from collapse by lending them billions of euros. However, the short-term apparent success of these emergency transfusions should not divert attention from the long-term questions now surrounding the whole concept of the transition to market economy promoted by the EBRD.

“The crisis has shown the bankruptcy of the idea that promoting the private sector is an end in itself. The EBRD needs to focus on concrete social and environmental goals that will improve people's wellbeing instead of trying to bend everything to fit market criteria.”

Piotr Trzaskowski, Bankwatch’s Energy and climate co-ordinator, said: “The EBRD should be looking to supercharge the transition to a low-carbon economy in the region. The surface of this enormous challenge is barely being scratched in most of the EBRD countries. The EBRD has increased its energy efficiency lending, but can still do more. It lends relatively little for renewables and continues to finance fossil fuel projects, motorways and aviation expansion, thus locking transport and energy systems into unsustainable patterns for decades to come.”

Mark Fodor, Bankwatch's Executive director, said: “The economic crisis has also highlighted the need for the EBRD’s financial intermediary lending to be tightened up to stop socially harmful practices such as foreign currency consumer lending. Around 40 percent of the EBRD’s portfolio currently goes through intermediaries, but the bank does not disclose the final beneficiaries. The public needs to have much more information on where its money is going and what it is being used for.

“The ongoing economic crisis has focused minds on 'socially useless' banking. For a public development bank like the EBRD to be demanding a big new capital injection, it's got to be committing to a much more ambitious social and environmental agenda. Our proposals to the EBRD are too important to fail.”

For more information

Pippa Gallop
CEE Bankwatch Network interim EBRD co-ordinator
pippa.gallop AT bankwatch.org
+385 99 755 9787 (Croatia)

Notes for editors:

1. The proposals to the EBRD, endorsed by 45 civil society organisations, are available in pdf here.

2. A decision on any EBRD capital increase is expected be approved in May 2010 when the EBRD holds its annual meeting in Zagreb; an informal decision could be made by shareholding governments some time before this. For a list of EBRD shareholder governments, see .