The London-based company could soon find major gas and oil reserves in Albania, the country’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said. Speaking to Dutch journalists, Mr Rama noted that this discovery had the potential to change the energy future of Europe, which is currently in Putin’s chokehold. The European Union is heavily dependent on oil and gas imports from Russia, accounting for about 40 percent of the bloc’s natural gas imports in 2021.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU countries have looked to end their reliance, as they have effectively bankrolled Putin’s war by handing him millions in revenue from fossil fuel sales.
Meanwhile, Shell signed several multi-million euro deals in Albania in 2018 to explore the country for possible reserves of oil and gas.
So far, several promising findings have been discovered over the years, particularly in the south of the country, including a large oil deposit with significant gas reserves.
Mr Rama said: “We are very hopeful that soon we will be able to share with [the public] an important discovery made by Shell in our country.
“They are reluctant to talk about numbers at the moment, but all signs point to a very important discovery of gas and oil reserves in the ground.
He added that this could “affect the future of our country but will also play a role in the energy future of Europe.”
Since beginning exploration four years ago, Shell has conducted a geographical survey in two areas of southern Albania – Block 2, located near Berat, and Block 4, which includes swathes of countryside and parts of the Vjosa River.
However, this survey has caused local residents and environmentalists to raise concerns as footage shot and collected by Exit showed machinery, disturbed swathes of earth, and rubbish left over from exploration activities in Kelcyre and Permet, towns situated on the river.
This prompted Shell to release a statement vowing that they will not drill for gas in the Vjosa River, no matter what the results of their current survey say.
Meanwhile, Europe is currently facing the worst effects of the energy crisis, as wholesale prices reached record highs earlier this week following a strike by offshore gas employees in Norway.
The UK receives most of its important natural gas from Norway, and as a result, prices have spiked by 20 percent.
Over the past few months, Putin has threatened to cut supplies to European countries and companies that do not pay for Russian gas in Rubles, in a big to boost Moscow’s economy after it was hit with sanctions.
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Given that much of the EU is heavily dependent on Russian supplies, many countries, including Germany have bowed down to this threat and opened ruble accounts with Gazprombank.
Meanwhile, countries like Poland, Netherlands, Bulgaria and Finland refused to comply, and have since then seen their gas supplies cut.