Pipeline cash benefits Yorgen Fenech, NGOs say in petition to decision-makers

Daphne Foundation and Friends of the Earth video argued that EU cash should not be disbursed for Malta gas pipeline that will connect to Electrogas gas plant

The environmental organisation Friends of the Earth Malta has teamed up with the Daphne Foundation in its clarion call to repeal plans by the Maltese government to secure European Union funding for a gas pipeline.

In a video produced by FOE and the Daphne Foundation, the two NGOs say that unlocking the funds to the €400 million Melita TransGas pipeline, would trigger a multi-million payout to the government-owned company project that will connect to the Electrogas power station, “rewarding the ultimate beneficial owners of the corrupt project – including Yorgen Fenech, who stands accused of commissioning the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.”

“Corruption, assassination, and environmental destruction are keywords associated with the Electrogas power station and the Melita TransGas pipeline that Malta is proposing,” the NGOs said, saying their video uncovers the unsettling reality of the Electrogas project and the proposed pipeline.

“Corruption in the Electrogas project was a core part of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s investigations, which, according to the findings of the public inquiry into her assassination, possibly motivated her murder. The European Union and Malta risk not only rewarding the alleged killer of Daphne Caruana Galizia but also her murder itself,” the NGOs said.

The pipeline hangs in the balance over repeated attempts to block EU funds for fossil fuel project.

The Maltese gas pipeline was originally excluded from the Connecting Europe Facility funding in both 2020 and 2021. But it was reinserted in a new list where it was rebranded as a ‘hydrogen ready’ pipeline, thanks to a derogation from the original rules as agreed by EU energy ministers. Instead the gas pipeline will be built so as to also transport hydrogen, with the European Commission agreeing to allow “blending projects” during a transitional period that ends in 2029.

But the European Council also declared that entities connected to fraud, corruption or conduct related to criminal organisations will be excluded from such funding, a possible reference to the presence of Electrogas as owner of Malta’s gas plant.

In 2022, MEPs voted down an objection filed by Green MEPs to exclude the pipeline from EU funds under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

A sixth PCI list of projects will be eligible for funding under the CEF programme from 2024, with Malta’s gas pipeline having to integrate a hydrogen-ready component for eligibility.

Pipeline plans: Malta studying ‘availability’ of hydrogen from Sicily

The two NGOs also added that the pipeline will lock Malta into burning fossil fuels for the next 40 years.

“This ‘hydrogen-ready’ gas pipeline will distance Malta from its sustainable energy goals, as the production of hydrogen depends on fossil fuels and the pipeline would lock Malta into another 40 years of fossil fuel dependence.”

The NGOs called on the public to sign a letter to be sent to decision-makers both in Malta and in the EU institutions, including prime minister Robert Abela, energy minister Miriam Dalli, and finance minister Clyde Caruana, as well as MEPs forming part of the energy committee ITRE.