George M. Mangion
Readers might ask: what is the relevance of spending millions to lay a gas pipeline to Italy other than to use it exclusively for electricity generation?
Do we need this source of energy when we can easily buy cheap electricity via the submarine cable? The answer is that gas supply via a pipeline guarantees more flexibility in prices and opens up opportunities that will enable us to become an export hub. Again, having a surplus of power supply makes us more flexible and assures us that future increases in demand will not be a problem.
The ideal solution would be to start looking for investors to search for gas in our offshore waters emulating the success in Cyprus, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algiers. Some may say this is a pipe dream. Realists may possibly assert that provided sufficient capital is invested in exploration, this could in the near future enable us to export our own hydrocarbons to Europe. Can our political leaders stop and reflect that we have no current exploration activity planned for the foreseeable future?
This may be an unpalatable story since despite a lack of discoveries in both oil and gas in past decades, we have been repeatedly reminded by top geologists that the prospect for discoveries in the Maltese continental shelf is bright and that we should not shy away from starting an intensive exploration programme. Granted, this is a risky sector and, taking into consideration the current low oil prices, it requires a renewed initiative by government to swiftly resolve any delineation disputes with neighbouring countries as only thus can we expect to attract new investment.
In the fifth budget of this administration there was the welcome news that there is now a firm commitment to set up a national oil company.
Malta has used heavy fuel oil and gas oil for power generation