Elec­tro­gas mum on LNG tanker ar­rival date; an­nounce­ment to be made in the com­ing days

•Ves­sel cur­rently head­ing for Suez Canal where ‘some wait­ing time’ is ex­pected

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Neil Camil­leri

“We can con­firm that the jetty is ready to re­ceive the FSU to berth along­side safely”

The con­sor­tium be­hind the gas­fired power sta­tion in De­li­mara has de­clined to state an ex­act ar­rival date for the LNG tanker that will be per­ma­nently berthed in Marsaxlokk har­bour, but said an an­nounce­ment will be made in the com­ing days.

The Ar­mada LNG Mediter­rana was yes­ter­day sail­ing up the Red Sea to­wards the mouth of the Suez Canal. Ac­cord­ing to ves­sel-track­ing web­sites, the ves­sel will reach Port Suez to­day.

Speak­ing to The Malta In­de­pen­dent yes­ter­day, Elec­tro­gas project man­ager Cather­ine Halpin said she “an­tic­i­pated some wait­ing time there (Port Suez) as per stan­dard pro­to­col of the area.”

“Once the FSU (float­ing stor­age unit) ar­rives in Malta, there will be a num­ber of tests per­formed for fa­mil­iari­sa­tion, and some safety drills while the ship is still empty. These are being co­or­di­nated be­tween Elec­tro­gas, Bumi-Ar­mada and the Port Au­thor­i­ties. We can also con­firm that the jetty is ready to re­ceive the FSU to berth along­side safely,” Ms Halpin said.

Asked about an ar­rival date, Ms Halpin said: “Please be in­formed that Elec­tro­gas shall is­sue a press re­lease on this mat­ter in the com­ing days.”

It is not clear at this point whether the “wait­ing time” in Port Suez will add to the on­go­ing de­lay. Ac­cord­ing to (En­ergy) Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi, the De­li­mara power plant was sup­posed to be up and op­er­a­tional by the end of Septem­ber. That deadline was missed af­ter the Ar­mada LNG Mediter­rana’s de­par­ture from Sin­ga­pore was de­layed for un­known rea­sons. Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat and Kon­rad Mizzi had trav­elled to Sin­ga­pore where they at­tended the ves­sel’s “sail away cer­e­mony” on 1 Au­gust but the ship only started its voy­age to­wards Malta on 12 Septem­ber.

This news­pa­per had re­ported that the end-of-Septem­ber deadline would be missed be­cause the ship would take any­where be­tween 19 and 24 days to ar­rive in Malta. The voy­age has now en­tered its 23rd day. Ac­cord­ing to cal­cu­la­tions, the voy­age be­tween Port Suez and Marsaxlokk, if the ship moves at a steady 10 knots, would take more than four days. The “wait­ing time” men­tioned by Ms Halpin was not fac­tored into the equa­tion.

The Elec­tro­gas project man­ager told this pa­per in Septem­ber that the De­li­mara plant would still have to go through the com­mis­sion­ing phase be­fore it starts gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity for Ene­malta. “All the other com­po­nents of the project are ready and within sched­ule. Once the FSU (float­ing stor­age unit) has been safely moored at its berth, it will be ready to ac­cept the first LNG cargo. Fol­low­ing this process, the plant will be ready to com­mis­sion in its en­tirety and we shall be de­liv­er­ing power to the grid soon af­ter.”

The gas-fired power sta­tion, a PL elec­toral pledge, has al­ready missed three dead­lines. The orig­i­nal tar­get date was March 2013 – an am­bi­tious two years af­ter the elec­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat had sub­se­quently in­sisted that the de­lay would only be of “a few months.” The next deadline, set for the June 2016, was also missed.

Kon­rad Mizzi had then told jour­nal­ists that the plant would be op­er­a­tional by sum­mer’s end but au­tumn has al­ready set in, with no clear in­di­ca­tion of when the power sta­tion will go on­line.

The Prime Min­is­ter yes­ter­day told jour­nal­ists that the ves­sel would be ar­riv­ing in Malta “soon.”

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