On May 27, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Minister of Energy Belinda Balluku announced the winner of the international tender competition for the Karavasta photovoltaic park in southern Albania.
30 foreign companies took part in the competition, with French company Voltalia winning the bid at a price of EUR 24.89 per MWh.
Voltalia was founded in France in 2005 and operates in the renewable energy sector.
The Karavasta photovoltaic park will be Albania’s second, following the one in Akerni, the tender for which was carried out in 2018. However, construction work in Akerni has yet to begin, due to ongoing negotiations between the government and the concessionary company.
It is worth highlighting that Voltalia also participated in the Akerni tender’s call for bids, but it was the bid of a suspect consortium of Indian and offshore companies that won.
Alongside Voltalia, the French embassy also alleged that the winner of that tender was predetermined.
Find a rundown of the events below.
In August 2018, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy opened the international call for bids for the construction of the Akerni photovoltaic plant.
According to the Ministry, at the time headed by Damian Gjiknuri, 6 bids were placed.
The tender was won by a consortium made up of India Power Corporation, registered in India, Mining Resources FZE, registered in the UAE, and Midami Limited, registered in Hong Kong.
According to its website, and from a simple online search, India Power Corporation seems to have a sole instance of experience with solar renewable power, at 2MW capacity. However, the Akerni plant was intended to have a capacity of 50 MW.
This company has ventured in Europe twice: first, the Akerni park tender; second, it aims at entering the Bulgarian energy market.
We will return to the company’s connection to the Bulgarian market.
The UAE-based Mining Resources World Wide FZE seems to be a company operating in the extraction of marble, thus, the mining sector.
Midami ltd, registered in Hong Kong, in a joint-venture with India Power Corporation, seems to be a shell company, whose owners remain unknown, and that is suspected to have entered the competition in order to support the secret deal to rig the tender.
Midami ltd was formed in Hong Kong in 2015 and is the official Asia sale representative for a Russian oil company owned by Russian businessman Yakov Goldovsky. The latter is known for having close connections to high officials in EU energy institutions.
It has not been proved who owns Midami ltd, nor who its shareholders are, and whether they are partnered with Goldovsky, whether they are Albanian, whether they are foreign, or a mix of all the previous options.
The representative for Midami ltd is the Albanian Mirsad Uruci.
Uruci is also involved with another consortium member: the UAE-based Mining Resources World Wide FZE.
In 2009, Mining Resources World Wide FZE partnered with the Albanian company Melova shpk, which was formed in 2009. Today, this company holds 35% in shares, and, from 2015, Uruci had 20% in shares.
On September 24, 2014, Mining Resources opened its Albanian branch. On May 12, 2015, Klint Babliku became its representative.
Additionally, Mining Resources became a partner (40%) of Mining Ventures Albania, a company registered on October 10, 2014.
On May 28, 2015, Mirsad Ururci also became a partner (currently holding 20% of the shares) in this company. On July 24, 2018, Klint Babliku was appointed as its administrator. The company was issued two mining permits in the Melova area in 2015 and 2016.
On the other hand, on January 5, 2018, Midami shpk was registered, with Mirsad Uruci as its sole partner and administrator.
Therefore, Mirsad Uruci and Klint Babliku are connected by Mining Resources, and Mirsad Uruci is then connected to Midami ltd.
Thus, two of the companies who are part of the winning consortium and have no relevant experience in renewable solar power, are connected via the Albanian characters mentioned above.
The Influence of Janez Kopac
Director of the EU’s Energy Community Secretariat, Janez Kopac was one of the few international voices that expressed constant support for the Akerni photovoltaic park.
He has issued a number of statements supporting the tender and congratulated Albania for successfully completing it, after India Power Corporation was announced as the winner.
Kopac is also known for being a supporter of Gjiknuri. He was the only international official who expressed regret at Gjiknuri’s dismissal as Minister of Energy.
The Gjiknuri-Kopac relation began forming in 2014-2015, at a time when Gjiknuri was in the middle of negotiations with the CEZ energy company, in an attempt to come to a consensual decision regarding the company’s restitution.
Janez Kopac came to Tirana and lobbied in support of the negotiations. He constantly advised that the CEZ case shouldn’t end in arbitration and the parties had to find a solution among themselves.
Ultimately, the State Audit concluded that the €600 million agreement with CEZ was harmful to the interests of the Albanian state.
Janez Kopac applied significant pressure so that the agreement with CEZ would come to fruition, he had direct connections to CEZ’s powerful owners and lobbied in their interest. At the same time, he and Gjiknuri became friendly.
As highlighted above, India Power Corporation has ventured in Europe twice: in Albania and in Bulgaria.
Bulgarian media reports that the Indian company is negotiating with the Bulgarian CEZ in an attempt to purchase it.
It seems that India Power Corporation operates exclusively in markets wherein Janez Kopac’s friends hold power, in Bulgaria, with his friends at CEZ, and in Tirana, with Gjiknuri.
According to confidential sources, it is precisely these connections that have been monitored and investigated in detail by French authorities who have cast doubt on the corruptive Akerni tender.
The French have asked the Akerni photovoltaic park tender be rescinded, considering it a rigged and allegedly corrupt one. The Albanian government has yet to sign the concessionary contract, dragging its feet on the procedures for almost two years.