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Mooring the gas storage tanker outside Marsaxlokk Bay would mean costlier tariffs to consumers, according to the consortium that will build Delimara’s new gas-fired power station.
Electrogas added that placing the liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker outside would also mean a longer completion time. The company, which was awarded Enemalta’s bid in December, has not yet finalised the contract and is still awaiting due diligence to be concluded before signing the agreement.
Controversy is raging on the permanent location of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker adjacent to the new gas-fired power station inside the port. Experts disagree on the risks the floating storage unit (FSU) could pose if an accident occurred. Change would delay project
While some experts argue that the possibility of an accident is low, albeit with devastating consequences, others claim the storage outside the port could pose more risks due to navigation concerns and bad weather.
Asked if Electrogas was considering the option of placing the LNG tanker outside the port, a spokesman made it clear this was not on the cards. Such an option, he said, would mean higher electricity prices for consumers.
“Electrogas Malta did not propose an offshore location for the FSU as our proposal was based on meeting the terms of Enemalta’s offer, which stressed the objectives of high reliability of gas supply and power generation,” he said.
“An offshore location would decrease the vessel’s ability to maintain an uninterrupted supply of gas for power generation. In addition, it increases the risks of accidents and theft by third parties.
“All these factors would result in higher electricity prices for the public and, more importantly, a less reliable supply for Enemalta.” The consortium said keeping the FSU inside the harbour reduced its exposure to bad weather, increased the security of supply and “allows for meeting project objectives, which benefits the public, without any compromise of safety”.
Electrogas played down the ongoing safety concerns over the risks associated with locating the large LNG storage inside the port, stressing that the technology was “very safe”. “For example, there are several LNG terminals in Tokyo Bay, one of the most crowded harbours in one of the most populated cities in the world. “LNG tankers have been entering and leaving Tokyo Bay to reach these terminals for the past 30 years without any accident that resulted in the injury or death of any member of the public, or any damage to the public’s property.”
Originally, the government had proposed to build two LNG storage tanks onshore close to the power station in Delimara. LNG tankers would have only needed to berth temporarily just to unload their consignments into the tanks. However, following the issue of the expression of interest, plans changed with the scrapping of the onshore facilities and instead using an LNG tanker as a permanent floating storage adjacent to the power station.
Despite not having yet signed the final deal for the project, the consortium, which holds a minority Maltese shareholding through the Gasan and Tumas groups, still hopes to complete the project on time. The government is insisting that the power station should be on stream by March next year. “Progress is being made with the design and we remain committed to deliver a safe and reliable project on time and in line with our commitments to Enemalta,” the spokesman said. Asked why the final agreement had not been signed, the consortium said due diligence, in relation to the site and other technical matters coupled with the banks’ financing, had yet to be completed. “The signing is expected shortly,” the spokesman said.
Source: Times of Malta