Cheap fuel stopped for superyacht scroungers

Superyachts attracted to Malta by brokers alerting them to subsidised fuel, force government to stop diesel sales to pleasure-craft industry unless at market rates

Superyacht brokers have been busy firing off calls to the rich owners of some of the largest boats in the Mediterranean Sea, to sail down to Malta and avail themselves of subsidised diesel fuel for their seacraft. 

But the government was forced to hit back and stop the sale of this diesel, after millions in euros in diesel subsidies were effectively ‘lost’ to these superyachts over the past months. 

A new legal notice introduced this week effectively stopped the sale of diesel that is not priced at market rates to superyachts. 

The move comes in the way of pressure from inside the finance ministry, whose experts deduced that subsidies intended at aiding the Maltese population stave off higher gas and fuel prices, were being abused by the pleasure-craft industry. One unofficial estimate is that “a couple of millions of euros” in subsidies were lost in diesel snapped up by opportunistic yachts that moored in Malta over the past months. 

Malta’s prices are cheaper than prices in neighbouring Italy and Cyprus. This has created a speculative opportunity for owners of superyachts who might be inclined to take advantage of the Maltese price stability policy. The legal notice short-circuiting the sale of this diesel to boats over 24m in length also comes at a time when ministries have been told to find €200 million in savings across the board, to make up for government subsidies on gas and fuel. 

The Quality of Fuels (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on Friday and will ensure that superyachts do not take advantage of Malta’s price stability policy on fuel prices. The new rules exclude registered fishing vessels. 

Anyone caught in breach of the regulation shall be liable to a fine of up to €69,800. Any illegal distribution of such diesel to these superyachts can also trigger a direct suspension of the fuel distributor’s licence.  

Government sources told MaltaToday the regulation will also protect consumers and industries from the sharp increase in fuels. 

“There has been concern that speculation may arise amongst superyacht owners, coming to Malta specifically for refuelling. The government’s intention to support consumers when purchasing essential products such as fuel and wheat, among others, is to protect its citizens from high rates of energy cost inflation. The intention is to support those who need it the most,” government sources told MaltaToday. 

Sources insisted that the government was adamant to protect people and businesses from the negative impact of the unprecedented hikes in energy prices. “However, we all need to be responsible about our energy consumption as this policy is intended to protect the essential needs of our people.”