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Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Malta gas storage tanker is still docked in Singapore

by August 22, 2016 General

Screen shot of the website Marine Traffic taken yesterday at 3.30pm, showing the Armada LNG Mediterrana along the pier at the Keppel Shipyard in Singapore. Courtesy: Marine Traffic

The gas storage ship for the power stations is still in Singapore and there is no fixed date yet for its departure, Times of Malta has learnt.

More than 20 days after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Minister Without Portfolio Konrad Mizzi attended a ‘sail away’ ceremony at the Keppel Shipyard, the ship is still docked in southeast Asia.

A spokesman for the shipyard confirmed the ship by the name of Armada LNG Mediterrana had not yet set sail from Singapore.

“No date fixed yet. Either end of this month [August]; if not, next month,” the spokesman said in response to questions about the ship’s itinerary.

On August 1, Dr Muscat and Dr Mizzi presided over an event at the Singaporean shipyard, described as a ‘sail away’ ceremony following completion of the year-long multi-million euro conversion works.

No date fixed yet. Either end of this month; if not, next month

The tanker was expected to be in Malta some time in September but it remains unclear whether this target will be met.

What is certain, though, is that the aim to have the gas power station producing electricity by “summer” will not be reached.

Dr Muscat yesterday on One Radio let slip that the conversion of electricity production to gas from oil will happen in “the coming months”.

He did not elaborate but this would be the fourth deadline for the gas power project.

Originally the LNG terminal and gas power station was to be completed by March 2014 but delays pushed the deadline to June 2016.

After that, the deadline became a vague “summer”, which has now given way to “coming months”.

Although works on the power station are at an advanced stage, it will not be able to function without the LNG terminal – as the floating LNG storage facility is crucial.

The storage ship, operated by Bumi Armada, will supply LNG to the onshore regassificator, which will then feed gas to the new power station being built by Electrogas – as well as to the BWSC plant that is being converted by its Chinese owners to work on gas.

The presence of a large LNG carrier berthed permanently inside Marsaxlokk bay comes with considerable political risk for the government as residents in the staunchly Labour district have expressed concerns about safety.

Dr Muscat yesterday reiterated that government would have preferred to have a gas pipeline in place. On other occasions Dr Muscat blamed the previous administration for abandoning plans to shift electricity production to gas and build a pipeline to Sicily.

Studies on a gas pipeline are ongoing but the gas tanker will be going nowhere for some years. Bumi Armada’s contract with Electrogas is for 18 years, which is the duration of the gas and electricity supply agreement the company has with Enemalta.