[WATCH] ‘Super-modern LNG plant a necessary step,’ Šefčovič says of new Delimara plant

European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič says Directorate-General for competition still studying 18-year security of supply agreement • Energy Minister says changes to contract are expected

European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi (Photo: Ray Attard)
European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi (Photo: Ray Attard)

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An 18-year security of supply agreement signed between the government and ElectroGas is still being studied by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for competition but changes to the contract are expected.

In a press briefing before leaving the island after a 24-hour visit, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said he was not in a position to comment on the agreement signed with ElectroGas, pending the assessment and analysis being carried out by the DG.

“This agreement and other elements linked to the Delimara power plant are being studied and assessed … there was a lot of information to take in and they are currently in the process of analyzing all information. Although I cannot comment on the contract, I must say that the quality of dialogue and information provided was very high,” he said.

Both the government and ElectroGas are expecting changes to the contract following the European Commission’s evaluation.

“Because of the commercial nature of the contracts and because it is now a public limited company, it will be Enemalta’s call to assess what can be published. The clauses of the contract are currently being subjected to the scrutiny of the Commission. We expect some changes, and so does ElectroGas based on the continuous feedback with the Commission,” Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi added.

Šefčovič had ample words of praise for the new energy project and government’s decision to switch to LNG from heavy fuel oil – “a very needed structural change”.

He once again spoke of the “impressive project” as he thanked the Energy Minister for organizing “a very fruitful visit to Malta”.

“The power plant is an impressive project combining technologies coming from different corners of the world,” he said, noting that project served different purposes, including reducing energy prices and cutting CO2 emissions by half.

He said, the new energy plan was in line with the European Union’s policy to increase energy security and reaching out to the global market. In turn, he added, this would result in more competitive prices as global market players are brought into the picture.

“Malta is getting a super modern plant, operating with the best technology. You are using the most competitive fuel and you are heavily cutting CO2 emissions. You will have the possibility to decide whether you want to get LNG from vessels or a pipeline from Italy, which in turn creates better prices.

“It was a necessary step to modernize the infrastructure and have cleaner energy which is less pollutant.”

Šefčovič said Malta’s reduction of energy prices was also positive for economic growth, “something which we are trying to achieve across Europe”.

An important topic on the agenda between Šefčovič and the Maltese government was the financing of the pipeline between Malta and Gela in Italy. A tender was awarded to a Belgian company to carry out an EU-funded feasibility study on the connection of Malta to Italy.

As the European Commission will next week will announce the projects that have been shortlisted for EU funding, Malta is hopeful that its gas interconnector will be featured in the first Energy State of the Union report.

“All doors are open for further work and speedy completion of this project which would further enhance energy security for Malta and better choice for Maltese consumers to cover their energy needs,” the Vice-President said.

The feasibility study, Mizzi added, will determine which pipeline route to follow between Malta and Gela. This should be completed within a period of 18 months and continue with permitting procedures both in Italy and Malta.

“We need the EU’s support for it to be successful and we now await the decision on Malta’s submission next week. We worked very hard to tick all right boxes,” Mizzi added.

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