It’s getting quite hard to keep up, isn’t it? The Electrogas consortium was back in the news yesterday evening, this time thanks to a leaked internal email which shows one of its partners had proposed using the Delimara power station to mine Bitcoin.
The email correspondence, part of a huge cache of Electrogas documents that were leaked to Daphne Caruana Galizia shortly before her murder, was published in Parliament last night by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi.
It shows that in August 2017, Electrogas director Turab Musayev, who works for Azeri state-owned Socar, had proposed bitcoin mining to the consortium’s former commercial director Catherine Halpin.
The email wasn’t published in full, but the introduction seems indicative.
“Hi Catherine, we are looking at various applications of cryptocurrencies in energy sector and one of the ideas is Bitcoin mining. Some questions to answer:”
Halpin got back to Musayev a few days later to inform him that such cryptocurrency mining installations tend to be “a difficult business case” and are usually built in much colder climates than Malta.
She also warned him that Electrogas will likely find it tough to obtain approval from Enemalta to lease out land for such an installation.
“Being inside the Delimara power station grounds makes the permitting and construction activity more difficult, and we would need Enemalta buy-in,” she wrote. “As such, they would need to either be party to the whole thing, or compensated somehow so they work with us (especially if we want this thing up and running quickly).”
As an alternative to leasing land from Enemalta, Halpin suggested locating the Bitcoin mining data warehouse elsewhere, installing the turbine at the power station and then negotiating with Enemalta to use capacity on their network to export electricity to the warehouse.
She also suggested renting or purchasing the land beside the power station carpark for this operation, but warned this would prove to be a more expensive construction.
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Jason Azzopardi described the email as yet another scandal involving the power station, following in the wake of a contentious NAO report and revelations that another of the consortium’s directors, Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech, owns the mysterious Dubai company 17 Black.
“Socar wanted to mine bitcoins at the Delimara power station,” Azzopardi said. “It wasn’t enough that Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri were being bribed with €5,000 daily of our money. No. They wanted more. Using public infrastructure to mine money for them.”
Lovin Malta has sent questions to Electrogas to inquire whether it had followed through on this bitcoin mining proposal, but they remain unanswered as of the time of writing.