The handing-over of the Delimara power station extension has been delayed for up to six months because of major turbine damage, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech announced this morning.

As a result the extension has been shut down and Marsa power station has been fully reactivated.

BWSC will be heavily fined and the case may go to court.

Speaking at a press conference in Delimara this morning, the minister said Enemalta would not accept a partial hand-over of the extension from BWSC and would only accept the full hand-over once the steam turbine which suffered major damage a week ago was re-installed and full reliability tests were run.

Mr Fenech said the damage could delay the project for up to six months, but Enemalta would not accept a partial hand-over involving the diesel engines.

He said the plant had run reliably for 30 days but it would now not be able to operate once the damaged turbine was removed. 

Mr Fenech said penalties would be imposed on manufacturer BWSC and the government was taking all legal action. In terms of the contract it would seek €1.6 million in damages for every week of delays until the plant was handed over as well as other damages which Enemalta would suffer.

He said the delays meant Malta would spend more on fuel because it would have to again make full use of the Marsa power station. Four turbines had been shut down in Marsa while the extension in Delimara was running.

Mr Fenech said using Marsa once more would also mean higher emissions and thus more penalties from Mepa -  which BWSC would also be required to meet.

Mr Fenech said this was a delicate state of litigation and the government would present a strong legal case in court if required. The government would safeguard its rights while it would also work with BWSC to ensure that the power station was delivered as early as possible, but when it was fully reliable.

Mr Fenech said the extent of the damage caused to the turbine was still being assessed. Experts were also investigating whether a stop valve was wrongly installed (by BWSC) or whether this had been a manufacturing fault.

(The failure happened when the valve failed and parts were sucked into the turbine, damaging it).

Mr Fenech said the turbine was not a prototype but the combined cycle equipment.

He said the damage could not be revealed earlier by Enemalta until it examined the turbine and then considered its legal and technical position. It was only yesterday that BWSC said that the turbine would need to be removed. It may need to be replaced.

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