News that the European Commission had rejected Malta’s €400 EU funding request for a LNG pipeline apparently came as no surprise to EU policy expert and former PN MEP candidate Peter Agius.
“When you’re sailing and can see another boat approaching, you do your best to make sure you never converge, but EU funding is totally different – it’s about seeing a boat coming from far away and making sure you do converge. What’s happening in Malta right now is that this converging is not being planned anywhere,” Agius said on Lovin Daily earlier this week.
“I knew that we had an energy policy which was devised over a table in a private room before the  election. We all know this and we’ve all heard about the ElectroGas and 17 Black scandals, but this is part of it.”
“When you’re planning this kind of deal, you cannot really think about EU funding. When everything is above board, you can plan three years in advance to convince the European Commission that it’s a national priority. No, I’m not surprised.”
However, he said he’s surprised that Energy Minister Miriam Dalli has refused to publish the European Commission’s response explaining why this bid was rejected.
“I’d be surprised if someone like Miriam Dalli, whose achievements in Brussels I admire, justifies a refusal to publish the European Commission’s letter explaining why we were refused this EU funding,” he said.
“Theres no transparency at all and the least thing we have a right to is to know why we lost this EU funding. Tragically I expect this to happen across the board in other areas, including in the digital transition and the green deal.”
Malta has long planned to develop a LNG pipeline connecting Malta to Sicily, which would replace the LNG tanker berthed in Marsaxlokk Bay that provides gas to the nearby power station run by the ElectroGas consortium.
Last month, MaltaToday reported that the European Commission dismissed Malta’s bid to secure €400 million in EU funding for the project because it has cast its eye to cleaner forms of energy, specifically hydrogen production.
This is key plank of the European Green Deal, which aims to make the EU carbon-neutral by 2050.
However, Dalli said the pipeline that Malta proposed was actually primed for the eventual distribution and transportation of hydrogen, which is widely viewed in Europe as a clean form of energy which will power up the continent in the coming decades.
If the proposed LNG pipeline was primed for hydrogen, then questions must be asked as to why Malta’s request for funding was rejected. Dalli has refused to publish the actual refusal on the grounds that the information is “commercially sensitive” but has said the country’s pipeline plans remain intact.
ElectroGas, the consortium which runs the LNG power station in Delimara, has been shrouded in controversy from its early days but things got uglier after one of its shareholders, Yorgen Fenech, was arrested over the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew has said he believes his mother’s murder is linked to the fact she had received a trove of internal ElectroGas documents a few months before her murder.
Meanwhile, the Gasan Group shareholders have said they’re seeking to exit the deal, “mortified” as they are by the links being drawn between the project and the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
In 2020, Times of Malta reported that the government had commissioned a feasibility study by two foreign engineering firms on the potential conversion of the ElectroGas power stations into one which can run on hydrogen and other low-carbon fuels.
Lovin Malta has sent Miriam Dalli questions pertaining to the pipeline and Malta’s future energy plans.
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