The Malta Independent 20 August 2019, Tuesday

ElectroGas: Brussels expects Malta to follow up on NAO report ‘according to its own procedures’

Sunday, 13 January 2019, 10:30 Last update: about 8 months ago

The European Commission was unable to become involved in the National Audit Office's multiple findings that there was something amiss in the due diligence and procurement procedures related to the ElectroGas Delimara power station, saying that commenting on the NAO's recent damning findings would be "beyond its remit".

It did, however, say that it "expects that Malta will follow up on the NAO report according to its own procedures."

A Commission spokesperson has told The Malta Independent on Sunday that "it is not for the Commission to comment on the findings of the National Audit Office" as the findings are "beyond its remit".

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The spokesperson added, "Within its remit, the European Commission is not aware of any violation of EU law in the context of the construction and operation of the Delimara Power Plant."

In a measured reply, the Commission drew a clear line between what is and what is not within its remit when this newspaper questioned Health, Food Safety and Energy Union Projects Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič's team about how former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi had quoted the Commissioner, out of context, as having endorsed the project as European "best practice" and a blueprint for future energy projects in the immediate wake of the NAO report.

But the Commission preferred to stick to matters that were within its remit, praising the project's wider scope and clearly not the more unsavoury aspects of the project dealt with by the NAO.

"The project would allow Malta to move away from its dependency on heavy oils for electricity generation, reducing CO² emissions and air pollution and as such would therefore be of benefit to the Maltese citizens and climate," a Commission spokesperson told this newspaper.

"The project links up several state-of-the-art technologies, such as gas-to-power and the conversion of oil-based power plant to LNG, and can thus serve as a model for future projects. The project ties into the emerging global LNG market, which has a significant role in our diversification efforts. In 2017, Malta joined the list of European LNG importers.

"The Delimara project is a welcome addition to Malta's energy mix because it improves its energy security by diversifying energy sources."

On Malta's LNG and decarbonisation efforts, the Commission added: "We continue to support Malta's efforts to move away from heavy oils towards more carbon-efficient electricity generation and LNG can play an important role in the fight against climate change. In 2016, we published the EU LNG and Storage Strategy in which we singled out projects to make our LNG infrastructure more connected and to work more closely with our international energy partners.

"Following our long-term 2050 strategy on climate neutrality presented a couple weeks ago, LNG can play a crucial role in the energy transition."

For the NAO's full findings, see: http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2018-11-28/local-news/Electrogas-NAO-flags-shortcomings-in-due-diligence-says-Gasol-departure-not-in-line-with-contracts-6736200040


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