“SHADOWY” HISTORY: Bankers Petroleum on winning side of $57M tax dispute with Albania. Has Bankers paid yet to clean up their huge 2015 frac mess in Marinza? What about the 70 homes damaged there? What about the 300 homes damaged in 2009 after Bankers’ reportedly set off explosions in Albania’s Visoka oil field?

2004: Guess who is on the board of directors of Bankers Petroleum?

John Zaozirny, Director

Mr. Zaozirny became a director in 2004. He is Vice Chairman of Canaccord Genuity Corp. He also is a Director for a number of public and private entities including: Canadian Oil Sands Limited, Petro-America Oil Corp., Pengrowth Energy Corporation and Computer Modelling Group Ltd. Mr. Zaozirny enjoyed a distinguished career in public service as a former Minister of Energy for the Province of Alberta. He has experience in the areas of oil and gas, capital markets, corporate governance and government relations. Mr. Zaozirny has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary and holds a LLB from the University of British Columbia, as well as an LLM from London School of Economics and Political Science.

John Zaozirny is also on the Corporate Governance Committee. [Emphasis added]

2010 07: TED interviews Julian Assange: Why the World Needs Wikileaks

At 11:19 in the video transcripts:

Julian Assange: “So this is a sample of what we do sort of every day. So late last year — in November last year –there was a series of well blowouts in Albania, like the well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, but not quite as big. 

And we got a report — a sort of engineering analysis into what happened — saying that, in fact, security guards from some rival, various competing oil firms had, in fact, parked trucks there and blown them up. And part of the Albanian government was in this, etc., etc. And the engineering report had nothing on the top of it, so it was an extremely difficult document for us. We couldn’t verify it because we didn’t know who wrote it and knew what it was about. So we were kind of skeptical that maybe it was a competing oil firm just sort of playing the issue up. So under that basis, we put it out and said, “Look, we’re skeptical about this thing. We don’t know, but what can we do? The material looks good, it feels right, but we just can’t verify it.” 

And we then got a letter just this week from the company who wrote it, wanting to track down the source — (Laughter) saying, “Hey, we want to track down the source.” 

And we were like, “Oh, tell us more. What document is it, precisely, you’re talking about? Can you show that you had legal authority over that document? Is it really yours?” So they sent us this screen shot with the author in the Microsoft Word ID. Yeah. (Applause)That’s happened quite a lot though. This is like one of our methods of identifying, of verifying, what a material is, is to try and get these guys to write letters.” [Emphasis added]


  1. In January of 2008 Bankers Petroleum (“Bankers”) wrote Albpetrol a letter asking permission to takeover well 646, along with several other wells (See Annex C). Well 646 is a carbonate well clearly inside the Visoka oil field coordinates for IEC Visoka’s “Contract Area” (as described in the Heads of Agreement, IEC Agreement and IEC License) (the “IEC Contract Area”).
  2. In complete violation of the terms of the MOGU and the Heads of Agreement, Albpetrol went ahead and granted Bankers permission to takeover well 646 knowing full well that well 646 was within the IEC Contract Area. It is our understanding that this permission was given the same week as Bankers’ request.
  3. We have learned that Bankers did not start injecting water into well 646 until after May of 2009. Instead for seventeen months they illegally pumped approximately 2,600 tons (6.286 barrels per ton) of oil from well 646.
  4. In June of 2009, subsequent to the execution of the IEC Agreement and IEC License, Bankers began to inject water from their field into well 646 at about 20 tankers a day hauling 20 tons per load according to eye witnesses living on the field. This is supported by the suddenly extremely high water levels in our reservoir which were not previously there. However, Bankers only reported to Albpetrol that they injected a total of 28,000 cubic meters.
  5. Apparently Bankers determined that they could increase well 646’s ability to receive injected water by setting off explosives in IEC Visoka’s reservoir within the IEC Contract Area. We have discovered that a number of explosions, caused by Bankers, occurred starting in June 2009, two of which could be measured by the scientific community. We know that Bankers was responsible for these explosions based upon: the fact that they had exclusive control over well 646 as a result of their taking over the well; the fact that Bankers had armed guards protecting well 646 (none of the other wells controlled by Bankers have armed guards and most oil companies guard their production wells not their water injection wells); and eye witness accounts confirming that the guards have been present at well 646 for some time and confirming that a different truck (other than the ones used for the water injection) appeared at well 646 immediately before any of the explosions. The first major explosion was set off on July 17, 2009, and the second major explosion on September 4, 2009. Testimony was taken from homeowners in the area who reported that they heard and felt explosions on the field on those dates. They also reported seeing a different type of truck going to well 646 just prior to the explosions. They reported their homes were damaged and that unlike an earthquake the “shake” was vertical not horizontal. “The ground moved up and down not side to side” they stated. They reported hearing and feeling explosions on both July 17, 2009 and September 4, 2009 and some smaller explosions on other dates. Pictures of damaged homes and signed testimonies were taken (See Annex F). After the first major explosion in July the homeowners temporally blocked Bankers’ workers from going to the field (See Annex G). The homeowners were frightened at the series of explosion so when the September 4, 2009 explosion happened they rushed out of their homes and went directly to well 646. Five residents arrived within 2-3 minutes of the explosion yelling at the Bankers’ employees, “What have you done?” They responded saying there was an explosion in the well. Within minutes a crowd of about 300 homeowners had gathered and blocked the road. The press was called and where at the site within an hour. One of the witnesses who lived just 100 meters from well 646 said that the explosion sounded like thunder and he could smell some type of order within minutes. He indicated that his house moved up and down, as opposed to shaking horizontally, when the explosion took place. He and the other residents all knew that it was an explosion and not an earthquake since they had witnessed so many of them in the past. The same witness saw a truck, which he knows to be a Bankers’ truck, with a red cab and a yellow bed, arrive at well 646 shortly before the explosion, and leave less than five minutes after the explosion. He has seen this truck on Bankers’ field in the past and is going to try and get a picture of it for us. Witnesses also reported seeing large barrels with white powder around well 646 and other water injection sites. The barrels were marked with hazard signs. They do not know what chemical was in
    the barrels but they know where many of the empty barrels are kept. They are
    going to try and get samples of the residue from the inside of the barrels for us.
    We now have three individuals who are working for us as consultants gathering
    this, and other, information from well 646 and other locations. These samples
    will include samples of the soil around well 646 (if it can be gathered safely) and
    other water injection sites. They are also trying to indentify and contact
    individuals who were working as the security guards at well 646 at the time of
    either of the two large explosions. They know that the security company that was
    employed by Bankers is an Albanian company, but that the workers are managed
    by a man they believe to be foreign. They have his name and we are following up
    on that lead. Bankers’ statement to the press was to deny there was an explosion saying it was just one of the many earthquakes in Albania. They later told us these were just greedy people wanting to blame Bankers for the damage done by earthquakes in order to collect money. 
  6. The EMSC –European Mediterranean Seismological Centre shows seismic activity for both dates, at approximately the same time in question in the area of our coordinates for the IEC Contract Area, but does not show the actual charts and makes no statement as to the cause (See Annex H). Both explosions registered as approximately 3.1 to 3.2 on the Richter scale. Mr. Mezini went to the Institute of Seismology in Tirana on Friday September 25, 2009 in an effort to get a copy of the seismic activity on the dates that the residents of Visoka felt and heard the explosion. We were trying to determine if in fact seismic activity had been recorded for those dates, and if so, was it consistent with earthquakes. Mr. Mezini was told that the Ministry had ordered those records sealed and therefore he could not get a copy. Despite the efforts of the Ministry to keep these records hidden, Mr. Mezini was able to obtain the verbal confirmation we were looking for. He was told that on the two dates, July 17, 2009 and September 4, 2009 and at the exact times that the homeowners reported the explosion at about 2 pm in the afternoon that they recorded activity each registering 3.-3.2 Richter scale but stated they were not earthquakes. Subsequently we have learned that the Institute of Seismology in Tirana did report these two incidents to EMSC before the Ministry sealed the records (See paragraph 16).
  7. An inspection by our engineers on September 11, 2009 of other downstream wells from well 646 revealed that an extremely serious environmental catastrophe had occurred on well G44. This formerly inactive well was now spewing oil and water. Subsequently Albpetrol provided us with questionable well production information which showed G44 as a producing well. Some 250-300 meters below well G44 the pipeline is compromised and water and gas are spewing at a rate of 400-450 cubic meters a day over the surface and into a small stream and then on to Gjanica river. It was our fear that the ground water used by the residents of Visoka and Patos villages may be contaminated as a result of the water spewing from G44 getting into the ground water. Therefore, on September 15, 2009 a certified environmental expert, Rita Moco, who now works for us, was sent to collect samples from G44 and the decant tanks belonging to Albpetrol for that particular area. On September 16, 2009 the oil and water samples were taken to Republika e Shquiperise Ministria e Mjedisit, Pyjeve Dhe Administrimit te Ujerave Agjencia e Mjedisit dhe Pyjeve which is the national lab and generally would not accept outside lab requests but because Ms. Moco is a certified environmental agent she was able to submit the samples for testing. The testing was certified and stamped for the government agency and by Zamira Dana the Drejtor D.A.L.R. We received the oil and water results from the National Lab on September 25, 2009. The results and a translation of her unsigned report are enclosed as Annex I. Ms. Dana and her lab technicians were alarmed at the level of contamination in the reservoir and in a preliminary unsigned report Ms. Dana stated that a clean-up of the water would be required. She is willing to officially sign the report when her investigation is complete. The report showed high Chlorides, depletion of oxygen and extremely high ammonia.
  8. On September 24, 2009 two people from the Geological Laboratory took oil and water samples from wells numbered G-44, G-139, G-67, G-202, along with several decantation sites and the Gjanica River. We have the results back of these tests and they are even more alarming (See Annex K) showing much higher levels of NH-4 (ammonia) These results have been sent to a chemist outside the country in an effort to determine the possible cause(s) of such level in a reservoir formally reading zero NH-4.
  9. On September 26, 2009 the chemical results from the National lab were shown to Professor Dr. Niko Thomo who holds degrees in quantum mechanics, Chemistry and Physics. He reviewed the results without knowledge of possible explosion and said, “This is 100% the results of an explosion in a reservoir.” He is not connected to IEC Visoka and has no financial gain by such a conclusion.
  10. Pauline and Rita met with Ms. Dana on Saturday September 26, 2009 in Tirana to
    inquire if she had any theory of what would have caused the high readings of
    NO3 NO4 and COD. She would not commit to a cause but answered, “What
    indeed?” She required that new samples of the surrounding ground water from residential wells in the area be collected under strict collection procedures. Pauline asked Ms. Dana where she thought we could have gas samples tested without telling her that we have an unknown gas in G44. She said another department in the National Lab may have the necessary equipment but it would require an order from the Ministry to have it tested. Because we believe there is a cover-up with help at some government level we were unwilling to seek Ministry approval. The ground water samples were collected and delivered to Ms. Dana on October 3, 2009. These samples included ones from Bankers’ and Albpetrol’s decanting facilities. On that date she came and personally saw the field. Those test results showed that the ground water had not been contaminated with the chemicals evidenced in the water taken from the oil wells but were contaminated to the extent that the ground water should not be used for drinking. 
  11. On September 28, 2009 we learned that Bankers has been injecting water for years into another well on Patos Marinza and that the village of Sheqishte, which is located on the Patos Marinza reservoir is claiming that their ground water is being contaminated by the water seeping from Bankers’ wells causing an unusually high cancer rate among the population. This increases the urgency to test the ground water downstream from G44 on the Visoka field. We sent our environmental people to the village of Sheqishte on September 28, to collect ground water samples and “free water” from Bankers decanting facility nearby. These samples were given to Ms. Dana on October 3, 2009. Our engineers have confirmed that the stream leading into the Gjanica River is contaminated.
  12. Mr. Mezini was asked to contact another associate who was the Director of the Institute of Seismology in Tirana until January of this year, again to see if he could give us more information. After seeing photographs of the damaged homes in the area, his associate, Prof. Shyqyri Aliaj, was in fact so concerned he gave us a copy of the seismic reports sent from his former office to the Centre Sismologique Euro-Mediterranean in Strasburg (See Annex M). These reports do not contain actual seismic graphs but do give the time, location, intensity and reports of the “quakes”. In summary it stated the depth of the epicenter was 2 kilometers as opposed to the normal depth in Albania of 10-15 kilometers and therefore though the Richter recorded 3.1 and 3.5 the intensity on the ground was 6. These quakes were not on a tectonic separation, the depth was shallow and the villagers, according to the Seismic Institute’s report, felt the movement as vertical. There was serious damage to about 300 homes.

2010 07 07: In Albania, shadowy memo haunts Calgary energy firm [Even reported in Canada’s Globe and Mail!]

… Abdel Badwi, the Bankers CEO, said in a phone interview that he is convinced IEC Visoka made the allegations because the company has made legal threats against Bankers, though has not launched a lawsuit. Mr. Badwi says the legal threat is apparently based on IEC Visoka’s belief “that we have caused damage to the [Visoka oil field]reservoir” whose drilling rights, he said, are essentially shared by the two companies; IEC has the rights to the “deeper” part of the field.

The allegations are contained in a seven-page memo, dated Oct. 12, 2009, called “Summary of events surrounding environmental damage to Visoka oil field.” The author is not named, though IEC Visoka is mentioned several times. The memo became public two months later, when it surfaced on the Wikileaks whistle blower site. Mark Hodgson, Bankers’ investor relations officer, said Bankers became aware of the memo only recently.

The memo centres on “Well 646” in the Visoka field, which Bankers acknowledges it was operating. The memo says “Apparently Bankers determined that they could increase well 646’s ability to receive injected water by setting off explosives in IEC Visoka’s reservoir within the IEC Contract Area.”

The alleged explosions, the memo says, happened last year and caused “extremely serious environmental damage” to other wells, including one called G44. “Some 250-300 metres below well G44 the pipeline is compromised and water and gas are spewing at a rate of 400-450 cubic metres a day over the surface and into a small stream and then on to Gjanica river.”

Mr. Badwi said the seismic activity mentioned in the memo was not caused by well explosions, but by earthquakes. “During that period earthquakes occurred and caused some damage to several points in Albania,” he said. [Emphasis added]

2015 04 06: Another frac mess! 200 Evacuated, Nearly 70 homes damaged in Marinza, Albania; Canadian firm Bankers Petroleum Ltd (has steam injection pilot project there), was at 500 metres depth when “volcanos” of gas, mud (chemicals?) and water erupted

2015 04 02 Bankers Petroleum gas, CO2, mud errupts from 500 metres deep, 200 people evacuated from Albania village

2015 04 02 Bankers Petroleum gas, CO2, mud errupts from 500 metres deep, 200 people evacuated from Albania village 4

2015 04 02 Bankers Petroleum gas, CO2, mud errupts from 500 metres deep, 200 people evacuated from Albania village 7

2015 04 02 Bankers Petroleum gas, CO2, mud errupts from 500 metres deep, 200 people evacuated from Albania village 3

2015 04 01 Albania gas erruptions by Bankers Petroleum, during drilling, CO2 injection at 500 metres

Bankers Petroleum on winning side of $57M tax dispute with Albania by Reid Southwick, August 29, 2016, Calgary Herald

A Calgary-based oil and gas producer that operates in eastern Europe emerged victorious in a long-standing dispute with the Albanian government over a $57-million tax bill.

The dispute began with an Albanian government audit of Bankers Petroleum Ltd.’s books in 2011 that questioned $250 million in expenses, resulting in a $57-million tax levy.

At one point, the country’s tax department froze Bankers’ Albanian bank accounts, which it used to pay local suppliers, as part of efforts to collect the tax along with interest and penalties that pushed the total to $75 million.

The feuding parties ultimately agreed to have the expense and resulting tax reviewed by a third-party panel of auditors. Bankers said Monday the panel found the company had correctly recorded its 2011 expenses and was not required to pay the disputed tax.

The decision is binding, which means the Albanian government must abide by it, Bankers said. The Albanian government is expected to determine some mechanism to reimburse the company for the funds it has paid on the tax so far. As of June 30, Bankers had paid $37 million as a deposit.

Chinese oil and gas company Geo-Jade Petroleum Corp. is seeking approvals to acquire auBankers for an estimated $575 million. The proposed transaction is being reviewed by Chinese authorities.

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