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Damaged power plant equipment is repaired

Performance testing is to be resumed ahead of expected time

Delimara’s power station extension is expected to be back up and running by the end of November following repair works in the UK.

The Government has said it would seek€1.6 million in penalties for every week the plant was delayed

Damage to one of the power station steam turbines had forced manufacturer BWSC to cancel performance testing and ship the damaged parts to Britain for assessment and repairs.

Initial indications were that the damage would result in delays of up to six months. But national energy corporation Enemalta yesterday announced that the power station would resume its performance testing programme in a few weeks’ time.

Opposition spokesman for energy and resources Joe Mizzi said in Parliament last night that he had asked the Auditor General to investigate the issue.­

In a statement issued yesterday, Enemalta explained that the damaged rotor had now been fixed and was expected back in Malta tomorrow. Other repaired parts would be returned next week.

Investigators are still trying to understand what caused a steam strainer within the turbine to break. The turbine damage was caused when a small piece of metal from the strainer knocked the turbine’s rotor blade.

The damage has pushed back Marsa power station’s shutdown date – something the Government was keen to avoid, given EU warnings about overly-high pollutant emission levels from the ageing plant.

BWSC was contractually obliged to have concluded its testing of the Delimara power station extension by November 7.

The Government has said it would seek €1.6 million in penalties for every week the plant was delayed, as well as other costs related to higher fuel costs and Mepa-imposed Marsa power station emissions penalties.

Those costs could have amounted to astronomical figures if the damage had taken the full six months to fix, as originally feared.

But Enemalta’s metaphorical arm-twisting of BWSC to treat repairs with “the utmost urgency” appears to have paid dividends, with the damaged rotor blade having been shipped to the UK, analysed, repaired and shipped back in just over two weeks.

A spokeswoman for the corporation said that, while Enemalta’s employees had extensive expertise in maintaining and repairing steam turbines, diesel engine maintenance would initially take place under BWSC supervision “until Enemalta personnel build up the sufficient expertise”.

The corporation has insisted it would not assume responsibility for the plant, which comes with a 12-month warranty, until the root cause of the failure was established and addressed and until the entire plant passes its testing phase.

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