Updated | Turbine damage delays BWSC handover, Malta to miss emission targets

Delimara power station out of action for up to six months, Enemalta to seek full contractual penalties against BSWC.

One of the photos of the turbine damage tabled in the House by Labour whip Joe Mizzi.
One of the photos of the turbine damage tabled in the House by Labour whip Joe Mizzi.

Adds Labour Party statement at 1:32pm

Damage sustained by a steam turbine has delayed the hand-over of the Delimara power station extension by up to six months, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech announced, in one of the first admissions on teething problems afflicting the BWSC diesel engine that was the cause of controversy back in 2010.

He said that this means that the Marsa power station will have to be brought back into action to cover the loss of power generation incurred by the Delimara malfunction.

Fenech added that given how the Delimara power plant extension is still under BSWC's responsibility, Enemalta will be seeking to apply the full contractual penalties to recoup losses incurred by the turbine damage.

Fenech said that, because of the damage, it seems "very unlikely" that BSWC will be in a position to respect the contractual November 7 deadline for the handing-over of the plant.

If this deadline is not respected, Fenech said, Enemalta will be able to apply contractual penalties for the delay, which amount to €1.6 million for each week that BSWC delays the final handing-over.

Aside from that, Fenech said that Enemalta will also be seeking to apply the full liquidation penalties to cover the costs stemming from the turbine damage.

He said that such costs would cover the activation and running of the Marsa power plant, the higher cost of fuel to operate the Marsa plant, and also emission penalties.

Fenech specified that the costs incurred by the loss of operation of the Delimara plant will be over and above the €1.6 per week deadline penalty.

Pressed by the media, Fenech also confirmed that it does not seem likely that Malta will be in a position to respect Malta's emission targets for 2012.

He argued that the emission targets were based on the assumption that the Delimara power station would be in operation during the latter months of 2012.

Fenech added that, despite the contractual agreement permits Enemalta to take over the functioning portion of the plan, Enemalta is refusing to do so until BSWC completes testing of the entire plant.

This means, Fenech said, that Enemalta will refuse to take-over the plant before BSWC repairs the damage and completes testing, and added that it has Government's "full support" in the matter.

Fenech said it is currently unknown when repairs will be complete, and added that he steam turbine is currently being transported to BSWC's facilities in the UK, where the damaged will be assessed.

Fenech said that Enemalta will now be entering "a delicate situation with BSWC as it will be discussing the contractual penalties despite being in a situation where it will be collaborating with the contractor for the completion of works."

Fenech also confirmed the possibility of litigation between Enemalta and BSWC, as Enemalta will be negotiating with the contractor in a bid to recoup as much of its losses and damages stemming from the turbine damage as possible.

Enermalta Chairman Louis Giordimaina assured the media that "Marsa is ready for activation" and added that Enemalta will be seeking "all penalties we can on BSWC" and that there will be "no shortcuts."

Explaining the fault, Enemalta division manager Martin Attard-Montalto said the turbine suffered damage when a filter either burst or became unseated. He stressed that this was not due to a design flaw in the turbine system.

He said that Enemalta was towards the end of its 30-day Reliability testing phase in the run up to the plant's hand-over to Enemalta.

He also stressed that this was not the first time that the testing programme was suspended and necessary repairs carried out.

He stressed that given how Enemalta is not yet in charge of the plant, "BSWC is still responsible for the plant and will have to make good for the damages."

Attard-Montalto said that aside from the steam turbine damage, the rest of the plant is still fully-functional.

He also explained that the steam turbine converts the 'lost' heat energy from the plant's eight diesel engines into electricity, generating 13 MegaWatts and improving the plant's overall efficiency by 5%, to 47%.

Meanwhile the Labour Party said that the extensive damage to the BWSC plant at Delimara shows the total failure of Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi's energy policy.

Labour hit out at Gonzi who "not only chose a plant that operates on Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) but also a power plant that might put at risk the health of Maltese families and failed before even being operative."

The Labour statement added that this has led the country to pay for a power plant which does not function and the depend on the Marsa power plant which was supposed to be de-commissioned years ago. "This is another scandal which is being paid for by Maltese families, financially and health wise."

The Opposition added that the government has already paid €157 million to BWSC for a plant that has broken down before it started operating and said that Enemalta only decided to come clean about the extensive damage to the Delimara plant after Labour MP Joe Mizzi revealed what happened in parliament.

It pointed out that in order to award the contract to BWSC, the government changed its energy policy from one based on gas to HFO and also changed the tendering process and the local environmental law.

"Even the Auditor General had said that the tender should have been suspended and re-issued," Labour said.

The statement added that a new Labour government would hold investigations and hold the persons behind the decisions responsible for this scandal.

In order to smoothen things Tonio Fenech has gone on record stating that BWSC will be paying a million + euro fine per week and the difference in the rise in oil costs. We all know that BWSC has broken one of the tender conditions when it employed a company that was internationally know to have used corruption to make deals. This carried a fine of quite a few millions of euros and we all know that gonzipn did not apply this measure. How can we believe Tonio that he would pressur BWSC to pay up?
Ara dan Gonzidcgpn vera mickey mouse. Il-fotesi hi li qed nhallsu ahna mit-taxxi taghna ghal dan il-mickey mouse kollu. Mhux talli jammetti li ghal darba ohra rega falla anzi jipprova jahbi il-fatti. Kif fil-fatt ghamel meta ha dawk il-famuzi 600 euro zieda fil-gimgha. U wara jghid li jrid jidhol fil-kcejjen taghna u mohhu biss biex jara xi jrid iul-poplu. Hallina gonz . Kemm minghalik se ddum titmejjel bin-nies. Ghalhekk qed tibqa lura milli issejjah elezzjoni, ghax il-poplu jehles minnhekk jrid. U int tafu dan.
Il-gvern kollu jmissu jirrizenja ghax kollha ivvutaw favuriha, inkluz Franko u JPO. Ghal FREJJEG TAJBIN.
...and by the way, the authorities are duty bound to explain to the public what the 'reactivation' of the Marsa power station really means, considering that this was never switched off. More like shelving the decommissioning, than reswitching, because Malta still depends heavily for part of its energy needs on this dinosaur-age power plant, which is officially only 23% efficient. Was it not the faults in boilers 7 and 8 which caused the extensive power cut a few days ago? Has not Mepa (happily showcasing its new air mobile station) just cited Marsa power station together with Delimara as the two chief pollutants in Malta? T
This is so revoltingly disgusting: so they are switching Marsa power station back on. BWSC will pay a stupid fine, and the government will foot the rest of the bill (with taxpayer money) but it is we the people who will pay the *real* price (with our health)
Possibli go din l-bicca gzira HADD ma jirrezenja? Creme de la creme ukoll dawn li jippozaw kuljum fuq il-PBS: Malta bla Gvern u l-Gvern bla turbini!
Kull ma imess jisthu GonziPN. Nispera li dak li ha 4 miljun ewro commision jerga jaghtihom lura; heavy fuel oil,imbaghad gas, u in between total failure! Kieku mort jien- li naf biss nixghel is -switch Malta kienet tmur ahjar!
This must mean huge multiple million euro penalties EU imposed!!?? Would these be paid out of the MIZZI commission and other less visible introjti?
Luke Camilleri
Now we know why Tonio Fenech claimed that there was not even one particle of residue to be seen or felt when he visited the extension of the Power station some weeks back... it was not even running!