Bankers Petroleum shuts Albanian production, hopes to resume in days

Thu Jun 2, 2016 10:45am EDT
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TIRANA, June 2 (Reuters) - Canada's Bankers Petroleum said it had begun shutting-in its crude oil extraction in Albania early on Thursday due to a lack of storage at the export port and its own oilfield, but believed it could restart work in the coming days.

On Wednesday, Bankers said it would curtail production due to the suspension of work at the export terminal of the Petrolifera Italo-Albanese (PIA) because of a crude spill by a Turkish tanker while the authorities investigated the incident.

"The suspension of the export terminal over the past week has led to a shortage of available crude storage at the port facility as well as within the Patos-Marinza oilfield," Bankers said in a statement released in Tirana.

"The company expects the suspension to be lifted in the coming days, allowing Bankers to resume operations," it added.

One of Albania's largest foreign investors operating the largest onshore oilfield in continental Europe, according to the Albania Energy Association, Bankers said in March it had agreed to be acquired by affiliates of China's Geo-Jade Petroleum Corp for C$575 million ($438.66 million).

The sale followed the Albanian government accusing Bankers Petroleum of understating earnings to avoid its 50 percent profit tax. The government plans to renegotiate its oil output-sharing contracts and impose a limit on expenses that oil companies can use to offset tax liability. ($1 = 1.3108 Canadian dollars) (Reporting By Benet Koleka, editing by David Evans)