“Financially Toubled” IRTC Invests €1.3M in Oil Company, But Fails to Pay Workers’ Wages

Oil workers from the refinery in Ballsh and Fier have again come to Tirana to protest for their wages and insurance. Yesterday, around 1,200 oil workers protested in front of the prefecture in Fier, whereas several have traveled to Tirana and spent the night in social center Logu i Shkëndijes, the headquarters of Organizata Politike.

The workers from the refinery in Ballsh have already protested several times, as their wages and insurance have remained unpaid for months, while working conditions in the refinery remain life-threatening.

According to a report from Reporter, the wages have not been paid because Ionian Refining and Trading Company (IRTC), which rents the refinery from state company ARMO, is in financial difficulties, as the refinery has worked at low capacity for months.

IRTC, owned by Harry Sargeant III, took over the company in November 2016 and was heralded by the Albanian government as a savior. Nevertheless, neither working nor financial conditions for the workers have improved since.

Even though IRTC has failed to pay the wages and insurance of the oil workers, it still managed earlier this year to invest €1.3 million in a Canadian oil company, Pennine Petroleum, which recently received a concession from the Albanian government to drill for oil.

It remains unclear how IRTC, which is currently unable to buy more oil from Bankers Petroleum to refine in Ballsh, would be able to acquire the oil from Pennine Petroleum, should this company actually manage to extract oil.