Albanian Gov'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

Albanian Gov'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

A legal row over tax payments between the government of Albania and Canadian-based Bankers Petroleum Ltd. has escalated, with the oil company threatening to cut production.

Albania's tax department last month froze the company's bank account after alleging it had not properly paid its taxes. It says it should pay $75 million on its 2011 profit and also justify a $220 million expenditure in 2013.

Bankers Petroleum has in return filed two complaints with the International Court of Arbitration. On Wednesday, the company threatened "to curtail production" unless its account is unblocked.

The Minister of Economy, Arben Ahmetaj, referring to the Bankers Petroleum, said there are companies that need to make their obligations based on the law.

“The law has not changed, according to Ahmetaj, but the treatment is more responsible”.

“Certainly, there are issues that can be discussed about the business climate. I would ask the one that went away (Berisha) to read the report of the Supreme State Audit about bankers. He must read it and tell us, because he brought one for CEZ. He should bring another one for Bankers. If he had done the opposite, he would come and say ‘these will destroy Albania’. There are no companies that steal or don’t steal. There are companies that need to respect their obligations. There are legal procedures that we judge. The law has not changed. I agree with the logic that the fiscal structures have not changed. The judgement is the same, the treatment is different”, Ahmetaj said in Parliament.

The director of Bankers Petroleum, David French, confirmed the company's readiness to cooperate with all Albanian institutions. He underlines in this letter that the company welcomes any decision to unfreeze their accounts so that they can continue to operate in the biggest oil field of Albania.

"Bankers believes it is the government's, the company's and the country's best interest to reach common grounds. Our current challenge is the issue of frozen accounts by the Tax Directory, in their efforts to collect the tax on profit for 2011, while discussions are still open. It is a sincere and huge interest of Bankers to keep operating in the oil field. Our inability to use the money makes it impossible to operate. We cannot pay the honorary rent or our sub-contractors. If the government gives us access, we will be able to continue the cooperation", David French says.