Three new wrecks discovered in Maltese waters during gas pipeline studies

A sunken ship and two aircraft wrecks were discovered during preliminary planning for the Malta-Sicily gas pipeline, Joe Mizzi tells Parliament • Energy Minister and Opposition MP spar over heavy fuel oil at Qajjenza

Gas pipeline marine survey leads to the discovery of three underwater wrecks (File photo)
Gas pipeline marine survey leads to the discovery of three underwater wrecks (File photo)

In Parliament on Monday, Energy Minister Joe Mizzi said that two airplane wrecks never before discovered and a sunken ship were uncovered during preliminary planning for the Malta-Sicily gas pipeline.

The finds were discovered during a maritime survey inside Maltese territorial waters.

Mizzi was speaking during parliamentary question time on Monday.

"The maritime survey that took place for the pipeline between Malta and Gela in Sicily was very interesting. We saw wreckages underwater that hadn't been discovered previously. This is great for our Maltese heritage," he said.

Mizzi was unable to elaborate further but said that Italy was willing to make some changes to the pipeline route to make sure that the environmental aspect was safeguarded.

The pipeline will be around 160 kilometres long and will cost around €350 million, an effort to pull Malta out of gas isolation.

Earlier, the discussion got hot over the heating of heavy fuel oil, when Nationalist MP Hermann Schiavone asked the Energy Minister whether the old Enemalta gas bottling storage plant in Qajjenza was being used to heat the substance.

"Does it release harmful and toxic vapours, minister, when the oil is heated? Are we still burning it, yes or no?" Schiavone asked.

Mizzi said that while heavy-fuel oil was still stored at the Qajjenza plant, this was not burnt there at all. "Qajjenza is used as a bunker for this oil and the plant is audited once a year by the Environment and Resources Authority. No, we don't burn it," he said, adding that if Schiavone wanted a lecture, he should quiet down, unless he was deliberately trying to sow doubt.

At some point during his statement, Mizzi indirectly accused Schiavone of seemingly having a special interest in the plant, implying he was in some kind of deal with the contractor.

Schiavone, enraged, asked the Energy Minister to retract the statement. "That is a very serious accusation, that I have some kind of interest in the contractor," he said.

Proceedings quieted down when Mizzi mentioned the historical artefacts at the bottom of the Maltese sea.