January 26, 2017 / 5:27 PM / 7 months ago

Albania's state oil firm takes over fields from partner

TIRANA, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Albania's state-owned Albpetrol said on Thursday it had reclaimed two oil zones from its output-sharing partner GBC Oil after it failed to pay Albpetrol more than $20 million.

Complying with a mid-December order by the government, Albpetrol had already initiated procedures to retake control of the Gorisht-Kocul oilfield and over the next few days was going to repossess the Cakran-Mollaj oilfield, Albpetrol said.

Since Albania ditched communism 2-1/2 decades ago and invited foreign bids for oil and gas, GBC Oil is the first company which has its operation taken over by Albpetrol, which represents Albania in the lucrative output-sharing contracts.

"It will take us a few days to take the oilfields under control, and then we plan to start reviving all the wells. They had not drilled any new wells. We think we need to hire 100 more workers," an Albpetrol spokesman, Ened Janina, told Reuters.

GBC Oil took over the oilfields in March 2016 from Dallas-based TransAtlantic Petroleum. Most of the debt, Albpetrol said, had been created during the 2008-2013 period.

GBC Oil's operations at its third oilfield of Ballsh-Hekal were not affected by Albetrol's action.

GBC Oil officials were not available for comment. (Reporting By Benet Koleka; Editing by David Evans)

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