Rigs at Palumbo Shipyards to be removed, Infrastructure Minister says

The rigs will be removed at the end of April, after discussions with the owners and local representatives 

The rigs at the Palumbo Shipyards will be removed at the end of April, in an operation that will take several months, Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said on Wednesday. 

The rigs have been subject to controversy because they have been laid up and static for a number of years. This was due to the global crisis in the oil and gas industry, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Borg said the rig owners had recognised the sensitivity and unique feature of the Grand Harbour and its relevance to residents and the public generally, and agreed that the rigs should be removed.

Borg said the operation will take several months due to the travel restrictions brought about by COVID-19, as well as complex reactivation and mobilisation processes.

“This government is aware of the potential and reputation that Malta has in the maritime sector and we are committed to maintain this standard as well as improve it. With this initiative and policy to clean the Grand Harbour from these ships, we will also be complementing other interventions such as the Grand Harbour Regeneration Plan as well as other projects such as the Grand Harbour Clean Air Project and the new wharf at Ras Ħanżir. We are aware of the degree that the maritime industry in Malta is a pillar of the national economy and how it generates many jobs and so it is our duty to safeguard it and improve it,” Borg said.

Borg added that the initiative to remove laid-up vessels will also serve to prevent potential damage to the marine environment and reiterated that both the government and the authority’s officials will be in contact with representatives of industry, NGOs, and all stakeholders so that the maritime sector flourishes while also being sensitive to social expectations and needs.

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