Malta-Sicily undersea electricity cable repair to cost €11 million

Enemalta expects the interconnector to be repaired by the third week of March, weather permitting

Repair work on the interconnector is expected to start this week and will be concluded by the third week of March
Repair work on the interconnector is expected to start this week and will be concluded by the third week of March

The cost of repairing the damage to the Malta-Sicily interconnector has been estimated at €11 million, Energy Minister Michael Farrugia said.

The repairs, which have been entrusted to Nexans Norway, the manufacturer of the cable, are starting this week.

The cable was extensively damaged on 23 December last year, resulting in a nationwide power cut. It was rendered unusable after a ship’s anchor cut through the undersea cable.

Nexans Norway was commissioned to carry out a submarine cable inspection survey to establish the location and extent of the damage, as well as to formulate a plan of action in terms of the repairs needed.

Video footage of the survey provided reasonable evidence that the cable was damaged by an anchor, Enemalta CEO Jason Vella confirmed.

The vessel that is believed to have caused the damage has been identified, and the ship’s protection and indemnity insurance has been approached and a letter of undertaking was submitted.

Vella said the repair vessel will berth in Malta today to start loading materials and equipment, and for the specialists from Nexans and Enemalta to board.

The cable will be uncovered on Sunday. It will then be lifted up to the repair vessel one end at a time, where it shall be cut to remove the length of cable which is damaged, jointed to one end of approximately 2km long spare cable and lowered down back to the seabed. The same procedure shall be repeated with the other end of the severed cable.

Vella said testing and subsequent energisation of the repaired cable is expected to take place by the third week of March, whereby the Malta-Sicily interconnector will be available to deliver energy.

“The timeframes also depend on whether the weather conditions will be favourable,” he added.

During the subsequent four weeks, the necessary cable protection and burial will take place, with guard vessels overseeing the procedure, Vella said.

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