€350 million Malta-Sicily gas pipeline to be in place by 2024

A marine survey for the 151km pipeline route will commence next week, three contracts now awarded

Energy Minister Joe Mizzi
Energy Minister Joe Mizzi

The gas pipeline connecting Malta to Gela, Sicily, will start being constructed in 2022 at a cost of €350 million, with the project expected to be finished in 2024.

Speaking at the announcement of the awarding of three contracts related to the project, Energy Minister Joe Mizzi said that European Union funds were expected to be granted to Malta for the pipeline's construction in 2020. They should cover at least half of the project's expenses.

"In the coming days, a marine survey will start of the 151km underwater route through which the pipeline will go through, with a corridor for this to be placed in already having been identified", engineer Alexandra Meli, a manger for the project, said.

The marine survey, which will more precisely map out the planned route, should take three months, after which an Environmental Impact Assessment and other environmental studies will be carried out.

Such studies will be submitted to the Maltese and Italian authorities by the end of next summer. Two permits, one from each country, will then be issued by around the mid-2020.

The next stage will be the issuance of a call for proposals, with the tender then expected to be adjudicated in 2021, opening the way for work to start the following year.

The whole project should be operational by 2024, with terminal stations being built in Delimara and Gela.

Meli said that 25% of the energy which will be provided by the pipeline will be enough to cater for the current amount of energy required by the power station, leaving substantial reserve power. "Once the project is complete, the temporary gas tanker will no longer be needed."

The first of the three contracts awarded in connection with the project has gone to Italian company Lighthouse SpA, which will be carrying out the marine survey.

The environmental studies will be carried out by a joint venture, with the contract having been given to Maltese company AIS Environment Ltd, and to two Italian firms, CESI SpA and VDP Srl.

A third contract was awarded to another joint venture between Italian companies Techfem SpA and Systems Project Services Srl. These will be providing engineering designs and specifications for all aspects of the project, including the land and underwater routes and terminal stations.