Updated at 4.25 pm

Former energy minister Konrad Mizzi on Wednesday defended a seven-year fuel hedging agreement signed during his time as minister, saying it is saving Malta huge money on energy prices. 

Mizzi was testifying before parliament’s Public Accounts Committee after a weeks-long hiatus. 

He dismissed a 2018 Times of Malta report that stated that taxpayers were losing tens of millions of euros from the hedging deal signed to purchase gas for the Electrogas power station in Delimara.

Details about that hedging deal were laid bare by a leak of around 680,000 files belonging to the Electrogas consortium, which built and operates the power station.

One of the leaked contracts concerned a $1 billion deal between Electrogas and Azerbaijan’s state-owned company Socar.

Malta buys the Liquified Natural Gas it needs to run its gas-fired power station at a fixed price of €9.40 per unit. It does this through a seven-year price hedging agreement which will expire in a few months' time, at the end of April 2022.

The government has since indicated that it will intervene to prevent energy prices, which have spiked on the international market, from directly impacting consumers.

Reacting to the report, Mizzi on Wednesday justified the deal, saying Malta would be paying much higher prices without the deal.

“Consumers wanted certainty and security and that is what we got for them through this deal,” he said.   

“Malta’s power generation was like an old car guzzling fuel and spewing out fumes,” he said.   

It was not long before the PAC sitting descended into a shouting match between Mizzi and the Nationalist Party members of the committee.

The back-and-forth went on for several minutes.

Mizzi and the PN MPs touched on Air Malta’s dire finances, past oil scandals dating back some 15 years, the Egrant inquiry, and even former PN MP David Thake’s taxes.

Mizzi was also asked whether he had recently made multiple calls to Prime Minister Robert Abela, replying that he had not.  

Turning back to the matter at hand, Mizzi said that utility prices would have tripled without the hedging contract.

“Factories would have had to close or go onto four-day weeks,” he said.    

“The government today wouldn’t have been able to afford all these wage supplements which kept the economy going during the pandemic.”

Mizzi went on to discuss other elements of the power station deal which he said had been given the thumbs up by the European Commission.  

The MP closed off the hearing with a statement that he was never involved in any corruption, despite repeated claims.  

“There was never any wrongdoing on my part - I still maintain there wasn't any corruption or any intention for corruption - no intention to receive money, either,” he said.  

Mizzi insisted he had no links to offshore companies involved in any potential corruption either.  

The PAC will next meet on Wednesday when Mizzi will continue his testimony.  

The committee’s hearings were paused late last year after Mizzi was admitted to hospital in November. He was discharged a few days later but was still unable to attend until he completed weeks of recovery and bed rest at home. 

The PAC is hearing Mizzi's testimony as part of its probe into the Electrogas power station deal. Mizzi spearheaded the deal during his time as energy minister.

He now serves as an independent MP in parliament, having been expelled from the Labour Party's parliamentary group in 2020. 

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