The new gas power station in Delimara will become fully operational by the end of January, sources within Electrogas, the company entrusted with a mega-million government deal told The Malta Independent.
No Portfolio Minister Konrad Mizzi was less specific with dates this morning, telling journalists at a press conference that the power station will be in operation in the next “few weeks”.
The gas fired power station will be able to provide electricity by end of this month as specified in the secret agreement signed by then Minister for Energy Konrad Mizzi and Electrogas.
The new power station will be able to provide clean energy of up to 200 MW. It is yet not clear how the government will be using all this power generated by Electrogas along with the BWSC powerstation, Delimara 1 and the interconnector.
As part of the commissioning process of the new power station, today, tanker MV Galea sailed into Marsaxlokk harbour (above) to prepare the LNG Armada Mediterrana for refuelling.
Tanker MV Galea will be sailing into the port with a shipment of liquefied natural gas which according to procedure will be used to lower the temperature of the LNG tanker which is currently berthed in Marsaxlokk. The procedure should help cool the tanker and prepare it for the first LNG refuelling.
Addressing the media, Minister Mizzi, who was accompanied by EU commissioner for energy Maros Sefkovic, said that this was a historical day for Malta. "Heavy fuel oil will soon become history," he said.
"Three or four years ago, we set a vision to reduce energy tariffs. I am pleased to say that in a few years, we would have managed to eliminate heavy fuel oil completely."
Energy tariffs are among the lowest in Europe, Dr Mizzi said, while Enemalta’s debt is under control.
The arrival of the tanker today is the first consignment of gas to prepare the LNG tanker for refuelling in the next few weeks.
Dr Mizzi said that he is "proud to say Marsa (power station)will be closed forever".
The EU commissioner said Malta is perfectly prepared for the EU presidency and said the EU commission has always supported the government’s vision to make Malta cleaner.
He said Malta’s plan abides by EU guidelines.
Sources at Electrogas confirmed that in the coming days, another tanker will then be coming to Malta to supply the tanker with LNG. The LNG Armada Mediterrana, which is serving as the floating Storage unit for the new gas powered power station, will then be ready to operate by end of January.
As promised by the government the BWSC power station in Delimara was partially converted to operate by gas instead of heavy fuel oil with the latter destined to be eliminated completely once the whole power station is converted to operate on LNG.
Government sources told this newsroom that the BWSC power station will be operating on LNG provided from the floating storage unit the LNG Armada Mediterrana. It is not yet public knowledge at what price will the government will buy gas for the BWSC power station.
When interviewed on INDEPTH, Commercial Director at Electrogas, Catherine Halpin had confirmed that the power station could become operational as from three weeks after the necessary permits are issued.
The Environmental and Resources Authority gave the green light for the project in December 2016. The decision by ERA, which included its vote on the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control application, allows for the operation of the gas power station and the LNG tanker to berth as a floating storage unit.
The new power station was a promise made by the Labour Party before the 2013 election. It had pledged to have a new power station within two years of taking office, but that deadline was missed.
Photos: Jonathan Borg