Hot air, gas and tan­ger­ine mon­sters

Malta Independent - - LETTERS - E.A. Mal­lia, At­tard

The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day of 18th Septem­ber car­ried two ar­ti­cles on the use of LNG and the LNG tanker now on its way here from Sin­ga­pore: one by Dr Anne Fenech (p.9) and one by Ge­orge M. Man­gion (p.22). Both had some con­tent that de­serves com­ment.

To start with Anne Fenech: It is dif­fi­cult to see what the point of most of the ar­ti­cle was. The fi­nal piece about the LNG tanker in­sur­ance made a good point; the rest was flog­ging a very dead horse. The ti­tle – “LNG tanker: liq­uid-to­gas trans­for­ma­tion must be done out­side of port” – is a case in point. Dr Fenech knows that for re-gasi­fi­ca­tion to be car­ried out on board there has to be a re-gasi­fi­ca­tion unit on the tanker. And she knows equally well, hav­ing been present at the Mepa tanker hear­ing that that pos­si­bil­ity was re­jected out­right. The Sin­ga­pore tanker is a Float­ing Stor­age Unit (FSU) not a Float­ing Stor­age and Re-gasi­fi­ca­tion Unit (FSRU). So the men­tion of Livorno which has a FSRU is not only old hat but also fu­tile. Through de­lib­er­ate choice, we are now un­able to make the liq­uid-gas change “out­side of port”. We are go­ing to make it in­side Marsaxlokk and ac­tu­ally on land where the re-gasi­fi­ca­tion unit is sited, close to that “power sta­tion [gov­ern­ment] does not need.”

Ge­orge Man­gion set out “to ex­plain in non-tech­ni­cal terms the ad­van­tages of us­ing LNG by way of cost sav­ings, cleaner air and tries to de­mys­tify the myth about the dan­gers of trans­port­ing LNG in tan­ger­ine coloured car­ri­ers”. Re­gret­tably, he ends up rather far away from that goal.

The first part, sup­posed to give “back­ground” is de­tached from fact. The rea­son for go­ing to se­aborne stor­age was sim­ple: when LNG us­age rates by the Siemens tur­bine and the “con­verted” BWSC were worked out after the 2013 elec­tion, the max­i­mum pos­si­ble size of land stor­age re­quired one LNG sup­ply tanker a week. This was reck­oned to be an un­com­fort­ably high fre­quency.

There were no “dense fumes” belch­ing out of the oil-fired plant – that is just Ge­orge Man­gion par­rot­ing a pre-elec­tion state­ment by Joseph Mus­cat. So much for “de­mys­ti­fy­ing” any myth. BWSC has an ex­haust clean­ing de­vice and the steam tur­bine boiler ex­haust was sent up the 110-m high chim­ney when it was spread far and wide.

The De­li­mara util­ity is get­ting old, but is not de­crepit. BWSC has not been con­verted to gas yet. Four en­gines are stopped for con­ver­sion; four are still run­ning on HFO, belch­ing those fumes of Ge­orge Man­gion’s dreams if per­haps Shang­hai Elec­tric switched off the scrub­ber.

LNG is NOT trans­mit­ted by pipe­line ex­cept over very short dis­tances (100m-200m).

Emis­sions of CO2 are not deemed to be “toxic”. Oth­er­wise Man­gion and the rest of us, but par­tic­u­larly trees at night would be busy emit­ting “toxic” vapour.

It would be pru­dent not to as­sume anything about those un­pub­lished stud­ies on Marsaxlokk; and it would have been de­cent of Ge­orge Man­gion to call for their pub­li­ca­tion. That would have been a real blow to “de­mys­ti­fi­ca­tion”.

The con­clu­sion is plain loopy, yet another ver­sion of the parrot cry that we can be “a hub” for ev­ery ac­tiv­ity un­der the sun. The Gela-Malta pipe­line, if it ever hap­pens – will bring nat­u­ral gas (in gas form) to Malta, mak­ing the LNG tanker re­dun­dant. And what a nat­u­ral park for fam­i­lies in the vicin­ity of Zon­qor Point (another PL parrot squawk to cover the Amer­i­can Univer­sity oc­cu­pa­tion) has to do with the LNG tanker at Marsaxlokk, only Ge­orge Man­gion seems to know. So most of the “mys­ti­fy­ing” has merely cre­ated or con­tin­ued to per­pe­trate other myths. Poor fel­low my coun­try.

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