The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
View E-Paper

Labour's pre-election promises: Gas-fired power station at Delimara - Six months to go and nothing to show

Jacob Borg Sunday, 28 September 2014, 12:58 Last update: about 10 years ago


With the six-month deadline looming for the completion of a new gas-fired plant at Delimara, very little appears to be happening on the site.  

Staff from this newsroom rented a boat last Friday in order to obtain a better view of any progress made on the new power plant. No major construction work appears to be underway.

On the site of the new power station, all that was spotted in the way of heavy machinery was one very small bulldozer. No preparatory work seemed to have been carried out and no construction workers were visible, apart from the occasional Enemalta employee crossing the massive site on a bicycle.

A barge with a crane and drill mounted on it was seen in the area where the floating LNG terminal and jetty will be located. A sole drill was also seen on the clay mound overlooking the jetty.

Questions were sent to the Energy Ministry on Wednesday asking what stage work on the new power plant had been reached. No reply was received by the given deadline.

In July, the Ministry did not deny a report in The Malta Independent that quoted Norwegian shipping news agencyTradewinds News that the project had been significantly delayed.

The Labour Party had promised to build a new gas-fired power station within two years of being elected to power.

The actual contract with project developers Electrogas Malta Ltd was only signed in May of this year, with the government refusing to publish the contract details.

The only formal announcement of any work being done on site was made in August, when Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi said that geological tests were underway to determine the best location for the power generation units.

Siemens says construction takes 20-24 months

Mr Mizzi and the consortium entrusted to build the new power station have insisted that the project is on track and will be completed by the stipulated deadline - March 2015.

But the lack of actual progress at the site seems to suggest that the deadline will be very hard to reach. Similar gas-fired power station projects have taken a number of years to complete. Work on the much-quoted Livorno LNG terminal began in 2004 and was only completed in 2013.

Furthermore, a Siemens brochure on Combined-Cycle Power Plants (CCGT) boasts that the design of the plant and the standardised components reduce construction times to around 20-24 months. "As a result [of these features], installation work of main components can start earlier, and the plant can be finished faster. Plants have been completed as quickly as 20 to 24 months. It is an intelligent concept that cuts down construction times and increases customer benefits." Siemens is a partner in the Electrogas consortium and has been tasked with supplying the energy generation equipment.

No sight of the FSU or jetty

There is also a big question over the FSU, or Floating Storage Unit. Electrogas had acquired an older LNG carrier, or tanker, with the intention of converting it into a floating store which would then feed LNG to an onshore re-gassification unit. This would then feed the fuel - in gas form - to the three new plants. According to industry websites, the process to convert LNG carriers into FSUs could take anywhere up to 18 months. The LNG Gemini was only brought into the Spanish port of Ferrol in October 2013.

Another point of concern is the jetty that has to be constructed near the power station, to which the FSU will be moored. Apart from the already mentioned barge at the site, there is no indication of work going on at the site. It is unclear whether such a major project could be completed within a six-month timeframe.

Even if the project could be completed and operational by March 2015, the new equipment would have to be tested - a process which could take anywhere between one and two months.

During the last general election campaign, the Labour Party had promised to fast-track Mepa approval for the project in order to meet the tight deadline. The permit was indeed fast-tracked, and Mepa gave the project the green light six months ago. That was in March. Six months down the line, nothing much has happened, begging the question as to why it was considered necessary to fast track the permit approval process in the first place.



  • don't miss