Mr. Huanqin Xiao Interview for Monitor

Steam Injection, Our Ambitious Project that Will Change Patos-Marinza

Mr. Huanqin Xiao Interview for Monitor

Bankers Petroleum Albania intends to further increase the investments in Patos-Marinza using the technology. The ambitious project that is expected to commence in October of this year is the steam injection, which will bring a growth in the oil production.

Bankers aims to increase the oil production in Patos-Marinza through the investments in the latest technologies.

How did Bankers perform in 2022 in terms of production, sales and investments?

In 2022, the oil industry showed a mixed performance. At Bankers Petroleum, the average oil production reached to 9,267.1 bod. By the end of the fourth quarter, there were 400 oil producer wells in the Patos-Marinza oilfield. In total, Bankers produced 540 Thousand tons in 2022. In the second half of 2022, Bankers recorded a slight increase in the oil production. The average Brent price for 2022 was at approximately US$ 101.3 per barrel, while the sales price realized by Bankers was US$ 84.87 per barrel. Sales to the export market were a significant portion of the total sales, accounting for 96%. However, in the second quarter of 2022, Brent prices dropped to an average of US$ 91 per barrel, this led a decrease in Bankers’ revenue during this period. The majority of sales continued to be directed to this export market, which is dependent on international markets


How is the performance for this year and what are your expectations for 2023?

For 2023, we can confirm that the trend has been positive in terms of production and sales. By the end of the year, we plan to maintain the production levels at those of 2022 without experiencing a decline, while we have ambitious plans to launch a production project through steam injection in the field. Throughout the year, we anticipate that the production will remain at 515 Thousand tons and we aim to open 28 new wells, including 4 thermal wells. This new technology, used by well-known international companies, will provide us with a new opportunity to increase the oil production in the Patos-Marinza oilfield. If everything goes according to plan, it is expected that the steam injection will commence in October of this year, after the necessary machinery for this process are installed, all of which will be imported.


Do you face problems in recruitment of skilled workforce and employees in general?

During the years that we have operated in Albania, we can say that this country has a dynamic and ambitious youth, eager to learn and to continuously seeking growth and career development. The challenge lies in the university curricula, which have not been fully updated to match the technological advancements and market demands, leaving graduates in the field of the oil industry with practical deficiencies and a lack of adaptation to business requirements. However, as a company, we have had a long cooperation with the Polytechnic University, where we offer internship opportunities for students, enabling them to become familiar with the latest technologies and practices in the oil industry. I am proud to say that many of these students from this program are now employees of our company.


What are the potential export markets for your crude oil?

Currently, Bankers almost entirely exports all the oil produced in Patos-Marinza, because there is no processing capacities within the country. It is in Bankers’ interest to sell its product in the domestic market since the selling cost (including transport and other fees) would be much lower. However, in a situation where large refineries are lacking, the crude oil is exported. The most significant export markets remain in Europe, with Spain and Italy leading the way.


How has the devaluation of foreign currencies affected your business, in relation to the local currency?

Market risk, which includes foreign currency exchange, is present when conducting foreign operations. Crude oil is sold in US$, while the company has transactions in ALL when paying local suppliers, salaries for its national staff and taxes. The drastic decline of EUR and US$ in the first half of 2023 has had a negative impact on the company by almost US$ 3 Million.


Which are your future plans of investments and growth?

Our ambition is to invest in the latest technologies in the Patos-Marinza oilfield and to increase the production and potential of this crucial asset for the country. As I earlier mentioned, the steam injection is an ambitious project that we have in Patos-Marinza, which, if executed as planned, it will significantly increase the oil production from this field. We are aware that Patos-Marinza is the largest asset for the oil production in Albania, and therefore, we have not stopped investing, not only in hydrocarbon operations, but also in the environment and surrounding communities. The treatment of sludge is already an ongoing project, where we are currently treating them in the cement kilns in Fushe-Kruje. After obtaining all the necessary permits from the relevant authorities, we will establish a waste treatment plant (with no impact on the environment) in the Patos-Marinza oilfield, an investment that has not been undertaken in Albania before. Meanwhile, we have a close cooperation with local authorities and each year we allocate significant funds for the construction of roads, schools, green spaces, etc., for the residents of the communities where we operate.


How do you assess the business environment in the country and what are the main challenges? What needs to be done to reduce business barriers?

The business environment in Albania has shown promise, particularly in the oil sector, with opportunities for growth and innovation. However, there are several challenges that need to be addressed to further improve the business climate. These include streamlining and updating of regulations to align with international standards and to promote the ease of “Doing Business”, investments in infrastructure, especially in transport and energy, to reduce operating costs, education and workforce development, corruption mitigation, etc. Addressing these challenges will be crucial in creating a more favorable and sustainable business environment in Albania.