The Malta Independent 21 April 2019, Sunday

Has-Saptan fuel storage facility to be completed by end of year, Birzebbuga site to be dismantled

Albert Galea Thursday, 7 February 2019, 14:38 Last update: about 3 months ago

Work on modernising the underground Has-Saptan fuel storage facility in the limits of Hal-Ghaxaq will be completed by the end of the year, after which point the 31st March 1979 facility at Birzebbuga will be decommissioned and dismantled.

The work on the Has-Saptan site is being carried out by Enemed and will cost approximately €55 million to complete, costs which will be covered without the help of the government despite the fact that the company is partially state-owned.  Enemed are also in the process of upgrading their airport facility, which is still operating with technology from 60 years ago and which will cost an additional €15 million as well.  In all, Enemed are currently undertaking projects across the island which will cost between €100 and €110 million.

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As soon as the Has-Saptan facility is completed, the 31st March 1979 facility in Birzebbuga, which is currently rented out by Enemed, will cease operations, be decommissioned and then dismantled by Enemalta plc as soon as Enemed relocate to the new facility.

Speaking at a visit to the Has-Saptan facility, Enemed CEO Kevin Chircop said that the new facility would be state of the art and would be conducted in such a manner that, as much as possible, doesn’t affect the environment.  Enemed had not held back in investing in safety measures, Chircop explained, and the facility will be armed with sensors that will detects fuel leaks or overflows, whilst tanks will be compartmentalised so that in the case of a fire in one of the tanks it can be isolated and extinguished through the blasting a specific type of gas.  That gas is non-toxic to humans so in the unfortunate case that a person may be caught in one of these compartments if there is a fire, the person will not be harmed by the gasses used to extinguish the said fire.

Energy Minister Joe Mizzi, who was given a tour of the site, repeated that project would be “state of the art” and said that it takes into account all considerations such as financial considerations, the environment, safety, efficiency and the overall aesthetic impact of the facility on the area. 

He also added that the closure of the site at Birzebbuga once the Has-Saptan site was completed had been long awaited by Birzebbuga residents and was the fulfilment of another governmental promise.

Once the new facility is completed, it will have a 6,600 square metre surface area with a number of certified fuel storage tanks buried just below the surface. The road-tanker filling station will consist of six loading lanes with three loading arms in each lane for different fuels.  Fuel will be bottom loaded in to road tankers parking alongside the dispensing units or loading arms, an improvement from the existing installation at Birzebbuga.

Photos Alenka Falzon

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