Some things could have been handled differently in the Electrogas power station project but decisions taken had to be seen in the context of the time and the overriding need to ensure that Malta had a secure supply of electricity, Energy Minister Michael Farrugia said on Wednesday. 

The minister was replying to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Herman Schiavone, who asked the minister whether he could justify the government's decision to absorb €40 million in excise duty costs while delaying €18 million in penalties due from Electrogas.

Farrugia said that in hindsight one could always see that one could have done things differently or better, but one needed to see the context at the moment in time when the decisions were taken. At the time, the most important thing was to ensure that Malta had security of supply (through the building of the new power station.) 

The interconnector outage at the end of last year confirmed the importance of security of supply. Had the new power station not been built, half of Malta would have been without electricity for months, he said. 


Other matters (regarding the power station) were being investigated, the minister said and they should continue. But Malta now had a power station which was environmentally clean, and local power tariffs were the second-lowest in the Eurozone and the fourth lowest in the wider EU.

Interconnector repairs

Replying to questions by Nationalist MP David Agius, Farrugia said that while the cost of repairs of the interconnector had been covered by insurance, consideration was now being given to a further claim by Enemalta to cover the additional outlay it had to incur when facilities using diesel and gas oil had to be used to cover the supply shortfall when the interconnector was unavailable. 

Asked if the government was considering a second interconnector, Farrugia said the central issue was whether Italy had excess supply which it could sell, and at what cost. The sale price varied according to demand and when demand was high, costs were well above local production. Furthermore, there had even been a situation, while demand was low, when power station faults in Italy meant no supply was available for Malta for some days.

Security of supply considerations were therefore paramount in the whole discussion.

Farrugia said consideration was also being made to having power links directly to France or Greece, but the sea was very deep in some areas, meaning that an interconnector could not be buried, raising the potential of damage. 

As for the possible introduction of supply through hydrogen, he said facilities did not currently exist in Southern Europe but the local power station would be hydrogen-ready.  

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