Durrës, Albania (PortSEurope) January 17, 2021 – In December 2020, Albania’s Top Channel broadcaster surprised everyone by announcing that the Albanian government and the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Emaar Group have signed an agreement for the latter to develop part of Durres port into a tourist area dedicated to passengers and yachting. For the transport of goods, the government plans the construction of a new
port in nearby Porto Romano. The value of the Emaar Group investment was said to be €2 billion, the largest ever in Albanian history. The news was not picked by international media and experts were sceptical that such an investment is feasible in one of Europe’s poorest countries. No details were given about the possible start of the project, funding sources, or duration of the works. The project also envisages a host of transformational investments, along the entire perimeter in front of the port, including residential complex, hotels, shopping malls, entertainment facilities, new roads and parks (Read PortSEurope article UAE investing €2 billion in the transformation of the port of Durres) The port of Durres is becoming the sea gate for land-locked Kosovo and North Macedonia with the agreed €204 million ($250.58 million) financing for infrastructure works in Albania and Kosovo from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and €77.6 million of funding from donors (Read PortSEurope article Albania’s port of Durres gets closer to landlocked Kosovo and North Macedonia). Albania, with 440 km of coastline (for comparison, Bulgaria’s Black Sea coastline is 380 km long) is accessible by sea via ports located on the Eastern side of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Maritime transport is carried out in the four main Albanian ports – Port Authority of Durres, Vlore Seaport, Shengjin Port, Saranda Seaport as well as in the fuel ports – Romano Port and Petrolifera Port. Durres (Durrës, Durrësi) is Albania’s main port located near the Strait of Otranto. It is only 33 km west of the capital Tirana. Durres is at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea. It is opposite the Italian ports of Bari (300 km away) and Brindisi (200 km away). It serves as a main gate for European Corridor VIII and Corridor Durrës–Kukës–Morinë. Port of Durres handles 81.8% of all domestic transport and over 90% of freight transport. It has the largest cargo, container, ferry and passenger terminals in Albania. Vlora is Albania’s second largest port that serves mostly passengers and handles small amount of cargo. It is part of European Corridor VIII that connects Albania, and more specifically the Ports of Durres and Vlora, with Bulgaria’s Black Sea ports of Burgas and Varna. Saranda port covers 18,000 sq m and is in the south of Albania in the Ionian Sea. Its main operations are passengers and ferries with the port of Corfu in Greece. Shengjin port is in the north-western Albania in the Adriatic Sea. Its cargo capacity is 60 million tonnes per year. It is expected in the future to accommodate export and import for the land-locked Kosovo, North Macedonia and even for Serbia. Romano port is located 6.5 km north of Durres. It is a terminal for coastal oil and gas services and their by-products and liquefied gas. The plans are to be developed as a modern multimodal port. Petrolifera port is in Vlora bay and serves as a terminal for oil and liquefied gas. Its key advantage is the proximity to Greek and Italian refineries. It is also part of European Corridor VIII. The location and connection to the most important European corridors places Albania in a geographically strategic position. Albania connects the Western Mediterranean countries with the Balkan and Asian countries. A concession for Pier 6 of Durres port (container terminal) was awarded to Hili Company from Malta for a period of five years. The value of the concession is €30 million ($36.46 million) (Read PortSEurope article Who manages a terminal in Durrës port that is to receive a €2 billion investment and is the sea gate for Kosovo and North Macedonia?). Exit News, an independent Albanian news portal which also publishes investigative stories, dedicated in January an article on the complex structure of Hili Company, owned by a web of other firms, owned by several Maltese individuals. Exit News describes irregularities with owners of some of these companies. Hili Company responded to an inquiry from Euronews Albania about the accusations raised by the Democratic Party (DP) detailed in the Exit News article. The company ruled out claims raised by DP over their “alleged involvement in the Panama Papers scandal”. “We categorically deny that any of our companies or beneficial owners are connected to the Panama Papers,” said the company. Hili Company also dismissed other accusations made by former Democratic Party MP, Jorida Tabaku, that the “offshore company was involved in money laundering charges” and that its “administrator was under investigation in Malta” over the same charges. Previously, the management of Pier 6 of Durres Port (container terminal) was provided by the Kurum (Kürüm) company (35 years long concession awarded in 2011). The Durres Port Authority terminated the contract Kurum months ago. Since September 2020, the Kurum company is suing Albania in World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington seeking a compensation of 100 million euro for breach of contract for the management of the Dures port container terminal. The World Bank has been active in Durres running a project to improve the efficiency and the capacity of the port. This has involved increasing its commercial orientation by establishing an autonomous port authority, privatising operations, improving customs procedures, rehabilitating infrastructure and improving operations and safety… Durres port terminals: Container terminal: quay length 265 m; quay depth 8.6-10 m; area 60,062 sq m; storage capacity 3.000 TEU (for comparison it’s bigger than the capacity of each of the two container terminals in Bulgaria’s Black sea port of Varna – 1,600 and 2,000 TEU); handling capacity 180,000 TEU/year General cargo West Terminal: quay length 800 m; quay depth 7-8.2 m; area 92,680 sq m; handling capacity 1.5 million tonnes/year Bulk cargo East Terminal: quay length 422 m; quay depth 6.5-11.5 m; area 135,000 sq m; handling capacity 1.8 million tonnes/year Ferry terminal: quay length 500 m; quay depth 8.5-10 m; terminal building 5,400 sq m; capacity 10,000 passengers/day or 1.5 million passengers/year Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2021.