Powerline contractor in Albania paid millions to offshore consultancy company
With the collapse of communism in the early 1990s, Albania embarked on a tumultuous transition to a market economy, resulting in increased demand for electricity. The country has become a net importer, but with few high voltage lines connected to the wider European electricity market and decades of underinvestment in the home grid, securing supplies has become a challenge and for more over a decade, power outages have become the norm.
Seeking to fill in the gaps, over the past two decades the Albanian power grid operator has invested in three high voltage power transmission lines.
The line between Albania and Kosovo was particularly important, not only because of its potential for a significant increase in the transmission of electricity between the two countries, but as the foundation for the creation of a common electricity block integrated into the regional market.
The first construction call for tenders was launched in March 2011 by the OST. Croatian Dalekovod offered to build the line for 36 million euros and Energoinvest for 29 million. Despite being more expensive, Dalekovod was chosen based on the quality of its technical offering. KfW gave the green light, but the OST refused to sign the contract.
When power changed hands and the Socialist Party of current Prime Minister Edi Rama entered the government, a second tender took place and in December 2013 Energoinvest’s offer of 29 million euros was retained. OST signed the contract in April 2014 and Energoinvest completed the 151 kilometer section between Tirana and the Kosovo border in June 2016. Dalekovod built the Kosovo section.
Inaugurated with great fanfare in December 2016, the power line still could not transmit electricity due to ongoing political disputes between Serbia and its former province, Kosovo.
Kosovo split with the help of NATO airstrikes in 1999 and declared independence in 2008, but its power grid was still coupled to Serbia. In early 2018, the political dispute resulted in a frequency deviation in Europe’s synchronized high-voltage power grid, causing millions of electric clocks to be delayed, from Spain to Turkey.
A solution came in April 2020 when the European network of transmission system operators, ENTSO-E, authorized the Kosovo transmission system operator, KOSTT, to leave the control block of Serbia and join an electricity block. newly formed with Albania, the Albanian Electricity Exchange or ALPEX. .