Over 1,000 call on MEPs to strike off Malta gas pipeline from EU funding

FOE Malta and Daphne Foundation file petition to European decision-makers not to include Melita-Transgas pipeline in list of projects eligible for EU funds.

A protest outside the Delimara gas plant. The NGOs say a gas pipeline will trigger an €85 million payout to the Electrogas consortium
A protest outside the Delimara gas plant. The NGOs say a gas pipeline will trigger an €85 million payout to the Electrogas consortium

The environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Malta and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation have collected over 1,000 signatures in a petition calling on European decision-makers not to include Malta’s gas pipeline under the EU-funded projects of common interest (PCI).

Malta’s hydrogen-ready, gas pipeline is eligilbe for funding under the Connecting Europe Programme, but its inclusion in the list of PCIs must be renewed every year.

In February, MEPs and member states will vote again on the sixth PCI list of projects.

The two NGOs say that clauses in Electrogas agreements – the deal for a gas plant at Delimara which currrently sources LNG from a tanker – will trigger a multi-million payout to the company once the gas pipeline is completed and connected to the 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.”

The NGOs said Electrogas is contractually eligible for around €85 million in “compensation” when and if the pipeline is commissioned.

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,” Matthew Caruana Galizia, Daphne’s son, said.

The petition against the gas pipeline is signed by a 1,000 citizens and representatives of 14 NGOs, asking decision makers to ensure that no public money goes to this fossil fuel project.

Climate campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth Malta Dr Suzanne Maas said: “The proposed Melita TransGas pipeline would lock Malta into a fossil fuel future and signify a climate-incompatible investment, leading to stranded assets and wasting public money.”

Colin Roche, climate justice and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, added: “This project is one of the last vestiges of a fossil fuel age that Europe has not yet the courage to end but which the climate crisis urgently demands we do. It's time to finally pull the plug on new fossil fuel projects and concentrate our efforts on cheap reliable renewables. The European Parliament should reject these fossil fuel projects and demand a fossil free energy system instead.”

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).

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