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
“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.”