Albanian underground seen by a drilling engineer, how rich are we?

2024-05-09 13:33:46Dhoma e rrëfimit SHKRUAR NGA ENTELA RESULI
Vlach Fili

The Life of an Oil Driller. How it worked in the oil industry before the 90s. Digging the ground meter by meter to unknown depths to reach the loaded objectives, to extract from the depths of the underground, what was hidden for centuries, oil, condensate gas or clean gas. The story of Vlashi Fili, the 80-year-old engineer who lives in Philadelphia

In our country, there are many people who, before the 90s, practiced a profession that they loved very much. They worked and gave him the most beautiful years of his life, his youth. Having worked for 30 or 40 years in a certain sector, in a country like Albania, isolated, with demands and ambitions to become a superpower, you must have been very patient and passionate in what you do.

There are those who have discovered oil deposits in our country for the first time and their heart has been beating along with the explosion of black gold. Vlashi Fili is one of them. The well-known engineer, who devoted 30 years of his life to the Albanian underground, now lives in Philadelphia, USA. He longs for his homeland, especially since he has touched every corner of Albania. He knows well the veins where oil circulates in the 28 thousand square kilometers of our country.

Curiosity about this precious liquid, but also to learn more about the life of a professional during the system, before the 90s led us to Phil in Philadelphia, where he has been based with his family since 2000. In this interview , the engineer remembers his beginnings and tells us some interesting details about the oil found in our underground

-Mr. Phil, what are your backgrounds in oil and why did you get into this business?   

My beginnings in oil were directly from 1956 when I started my studies at the oil high school that had opened a few years ago in my hometown, but also indirectly. I was born and raised in the oil town of Kuçova and it seems that my beginnings as a later oilman or precisely as a specialist in drilling oil and gas wells are to be found here.

- Why did you get into this job?

To be honest I have to say that I was forced at first and it was the first obligation in my life. I liked to write. The wall newspaper of my 7-year-old class was often enriched with my writings. Out of curiosity, I can say that the first article in this newspaper was about a soccer ball that I bought, not without financial problems of my family. It was a little more than half a page, so not long, but it caught the attention of my tutor, my classmates, and other classes who came and read it eagerly. So my initial desire was to take this path. At the end of the seventh grade, I was eligible for a scholarship to the Oil Technical College, but I had no desire to go there. So I spent a year without school. When the city leaders insisted the next year that I should continue the Oil Technical College, I "gave in" and started that school. This does not mean that in the future I did not want the specialty I received. I "loved" him, I gave him my life, work, effort, sweat, my knowledge that I got later and everything I had.

-Was school a place where you got enough knowledge for what awaited you later, or was the internship a different school...?!

The knowledge, first of this specialty, I got at the Petroleum Technical College and later at the Petroleum Branch of the Faculty of Geology-Mining at the University of Tirana, from highly trained pedagogues in schools outside Albania, such as in France, the former Soviet Union, Romania or Czechoslovakia . Here I want to emphasize that school is different and practice is different. The latter is a great school, where every specialist can learn much more. The school teaches you the basic criteria, how you should act in life, how to grasp the problems of the specialty faster and give way to them in a scientific way, but the subtleties are taught by practice, the difficulties and the problems you meet there. As much as the school teaches you how to solve the problems you encounter in life, it is impossible to give full details about the life practice of the specialty you choose. That happened to me too. In school I learned everything she gave me, but when I came out in life, the practice taught me a lot more that completed my framework as a specialist in the field of drilling oil and gas wells. I tried to pass on what I had learned at school to the brigades where I worked, but in the meantime I took from them what I lacked and had not done at school. I can mention here, without further ado, just one example. I worked for several years with the late Idriz Bregu, who was in charge of the brigade where I was also a part. He respected my opinion as a specialist, but in the meantime I learned more from him than I gave him.

- Why did the communist state of that time prioritize the development of the oil industry?

- At the beginning I want to emphasize something. Oil is so powerful that it can overthrow or raise governments, it can raise the economy of a country from weak to strong. Look at the booming Arab countries are doing in their economy and this is thanks to the oil they have. This is the reason why the communist government of the time we left gave priority to the development of the oil industry. The production of oil from year to year came to be increasing and parallel to the growth of this production, it is understood that other branches of this industry are also. With oil production of 2.4 million tons in 1974, our country managed to be the third in Europe, after the Soviet Union and Romania, that exported produced oil. Of course, with this development of the oil industry, the indignities of the time also happened, precisely from this government. They were arrested, tortured to admit what they had not done, allegedly exemplary trials were held, very good specialists were punished and even executed, with unfounded accusations, which not only targeted oil specialists who had discovered oil deposits. all, but they instilled a fear of "gogol" in all others who continued working in this industry. Why? Because the leader was looking for the needle in the haystack.

Albanian underground seen by a drilling engineer, how rich are we?

- You have experience all over the country, which area has the most oil?

- The nature of the work in drilling oil and gas wells has made me gain experience. The more I faced the difficulties of drilling various wells, the more fatigue and worries they brought me, but the more experience I gained in life. Together with the drilling brigades, we drilled wells from the north to the southernmost tip of Albania in very different conditions from one area to another, from terrigenous to carbonate deposits, from small to greater depths, as in research areas outside to our liking, they did not result in oil bearing layers as in other cases with a lot of oil. All these have enriched us with experience to the point where a drilling specialist, following the drilling of the well meter by meter, can create the opinion that there is oil or not where it is drilled. In different periods of time, the areas with the most oil change places in the ranking. Thus, after the end of the war, the area with the most oil was that of Kuçova. Until 1918, the village of Kuçovo was not even recognized in the country's economy. With the discovery of oil, Kuçova was placed on all maps and, moreover, on military maps as well. Then Kuçova, as I said, was the area that produced the most oil and held the main weight in the Albanian economy for several years. In 1957, the site of Marinza was discovered, which was also the area that produced the most oil. Later, oil deposits were discovered in carbonate layers such as in Visokë, Ballsh, Gorrisht, Kocul, etc. which greatly increased the amount of oil production which, as I said above, reached 2.4 million tons in 1974. In recent years, oil has been discovered in Mbreshtan in Berat, and as far as I have heard, the predictions are for a powerful oil area .

- Looking at what has been done in the last century, does the Albanian underground have more oil?

- Among that part of our people who do not know oil, there has been a rumor that there is a river of oil from Romania to Italy and passing through Albania. This is a professional ignorance among those who have no knowledge of the conditions of oil formation and accumulation. But if you think about why this rumor was spoken, you may end up thinking that it had a source from which it was born. With this, the part of the people who used it expressed that there is so much oil in Albania that they call it "river of oil". Our country has a lot of oil not only in those undiscovered areas that are predicted to contain oil, but also in the areas that have already been discovered. Let's take e.g. the oldest area, that of Kuçova. Soon Kuçovo will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of this source. So it has been 100 years since oil has been extracted from this source. However, until today it has not been possible to extract even half of the usable technical reserves, and even less of the amount of geological reserves calculated in it. So even in this 100-year-old well, there are still large amounts of oil. Afterwards, the map of Albania's sources was greatly expanded to the South of the country, in Krane, Finiq, Delvinë, etc. Likewise, the gas resources discovered in the pre-Adriatic area became part of all the oil and gas-bearing resources of our country. Geological studies have shown that even in other areas, even in the Adriatic and Ionian seas, Albania is a storehouse of oil and gas. Now I ask a question. Why does Greece claim, without right, to take the maritime area in the Ionian Sea, which was given to Sali Berisha and Lulzim Basha when they were in government? Maybe there is little sea in Greece that is actually surrounded by sea in three quarters of its border? No, it doesn't have a problem with sea surface, it has plenty, but that area is predicted to be quite oil-bearing. Finally, answering your question briefly, the Albanian subsoil is not only oil but a lot of oil.

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