US supermajor ExxonMobil, compatriot contractor Excelerate Energy and the Albanian government have signed a memorandum of understanding for the potential development of a liquefied natural gas project in the Port of Vlora in the country's south.

LNG would bring reliable and affordable energy diversity to Albania’s power supply portfolio — the nation relies on hydropower — and to the wider Balkans region.

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Under the MoU, Excelerate will perform a study to explore the potential of an integrated LNG-to-power solution that includes developing an import terminal, converting and/or expanding the existing Vlora thermal power plant and establishing small-scale LNG distribution to Albania and the surrounding Balkans region.

“As Albania looks to improve energy security and resiliency, we are confident that an LNG solution would provide reliability to the country’s power grid while complementing intermittent renewables and alternative resources,” said Excelerate chief executive Steven Kobos.

“We are pleased to work with our partners in developing a reliable and affordable solution for Albania’s energy resilience.”

The pre-feasibility report for Albania’s proposed LNG import project is expected to be delivered in the third quarter, while the targeted start-up could be as early as 2023.

ExxonMobil will lead the charge on identifying opportunities to support the supply of LNG into Albania and the proposed import project, which has been designated a project of national strategic importance.

“LNG enables transportation of natural gas from supply centres to customers safely and cost effectively,” said Ed Austin, ExxonMobil LNG strategy and portfolio manager.

"While we are at the early stages of exploring this opportunity, ExxonMobil’s global resources and reliable LNG supply chain can help Albania meet its fast-growing demand for natural gas and ensure long-term supply security.”

Hydropower reliance

Home to eight major river systems, Albania relies on hydropower plants — which can become unreliable during times of drought — to supply energy to the country’s population of almost 3 million.

Albania’s Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Belinda Balluku said: “Supply diversification and the enhancement of supply security are crucial to Albania and to our Balkan neighbours as well.

“We are confident that LNG can be the key to achieving these strategic objectives and to finally providing a solution to the complex Vlora project by choosing the best partners equipped to deliver a project of such magnitude.”

As a leading floating LNG regasification solutions provider, Excelerate has developed and operates 13 LNG terminals worldwide.

The Vlora project is said to be the latest example of Excelerate’s emphasis on “greater integration of services” to better serve gas and power customers.