Malta must resolve certain territorial issues with Libya before proceeding with an electoral promise to set up an agency focusing on oil exploration, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has confirmed.
“We don’t yet know what lies beneath the surface and there are some studies that indicate the probability of oil in certain areas,” Caruana said when questioned by Lovin Malta at a recent press conference.
“However, before any exploration takes place we must certainly resolve certain issues related to the continental shelf. We were thinking of setting up a national oil agency but it hasn’t been set up yet because we first wanted to discuss issues with Libya. It would be useless to set up this company before certain issues related to the continental shelf are resolved.”
Caruana’s comments can be found at 41:43 in the video below
In its 2017 election manifesto, the Labour Party had promised to set up a new government agency to focus on “all issues related to oil exploration”.
“A lot of work took place over the past four years to continue diplomatic discussions with countries in our region, along with a number of initiatives with foreign companies,” the manifesto reads. “However, we need to pick up the pace.”
However, back in January, Lovin Malta reported that a National Oil Corporation which the government of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat set up in 2017 had been defunct since at least 2019.
Geologist Peter Gatt recently flagged Caruana’s remark during his 2022 Budget speech that Malta doesn’t yet have oil and gas.
Gatt asked why Malta has “given up” on oil and gas exploration when Israel, Cyprus, Egypt and Greece have been actively exploring and discovering oil and gas in the Mediterranean Sea over the past decade, with Israel now an exporter of gas.
“Who has (wrongly) advised the Minister that Malta has no oil & gas?” he asked. “Can the ‘geologist’ or whoever gave this advice be named and provide the ‘evidence’?”
“Why has the EU country most dependent on energy imports failed to embark on an active oil and gas exploration programme, especially when the same Minister Caruana is now engaged in legislation for the setting up of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)?”
“Why do we need an EEZ when Malta does not have an oil & gas exploration programme (or has had a failed programme) and the Minister is so confident that’ Malta does not have oil & gas?”
Do you think Malta will ever find oil in its waters?