Updated: PL defends its energy plan
The front man for Labour’s energy plan this afternoon defended every aspect of the plan and said that Minister Tonio Fenech’s statements earlier today reflected his incompetence on the subject.
Giving a presentation in reaction to the minister’s press conference, Konrad Mizzi, who is also a Labour candidate, said that the Dutch consultants who drew up the costings of the infrastructural projects used international standards to arrive at their figures.
On the 10-year power purchase agreement, he said the minister did not know what he was talking about when he spoke of hedging. In the gas industry 10-year gas supply agreements through which the purchase of a fixed volume of gas would be guaranteed, were industry practice.
When asked to specify where such agreements existed he said these were found all around Europe including in the UK.
Constantly questioned on how realistic the timeframes Labour had given were, Dr Mizzi insisted one should not judge a future Labour government with the mediocre yardstick of the present administration.
He ridiculed the minister’s assertion that Enemalta or the private company would have to buy ships to deliver the gas. The company would be buying the gas from the supplier and then make shipping arrangements.
He quoted from comments by Prof. Edward Mallia on timesomalta.com in which Prof. Mallia said that the minister’s claim showed his incompetence in energy matters because in the Mediterranean there was enough spare capacity of ships that carried liquefied natural gas.
Dr Mizzi said the gas would be stored in two 20-metre diameter tanks each holding 30,000 cubic metres of gas. He insisted that this was not such a big thing and people in the south would prefer these to the tall chimney. They will also be getting cleaner air.
Asked whether this proposal presented by Labour came from Bateman, the company that had competed with BWSC for the Delimara extension, Dr Mizzi said it did not.
However, he claimed that in 2008 the government had received a report with a proposal that was similar to the PL’s, which the government for some reason ignored and decided to opt for heavy fuel oil. This was in spite of having taken a policy decision two years earlier to go for gas.
In terms of the gas pipeline, Dr Mizzi said that Malta only had a pre-application with the EU so this would not be coming in the short term.
He took umbrage at the minister’s claim that with the new power station the Labour Party was proposing, the country would have over-capacity.
The minister, he said, seemed to have forgotten that even according to EU guidelines a country should have energy reserves that were double its largest unit.
As the interconnector, with 200MW, would be Malta’s largest unit, the country would need a reserve capacity of 400MW.
Labour finance spokesman Karmenu Vella, who spoke earlier, insisted that the Finance Minister's reaction confirmed that the PL's plan was a feasible project.
Mr Vella quoted the minister saying that the project was not doable before four or five years and that the costs included in the study were unrealistic.
"We do not agree with these two concerns raised by Tonio Fenech but at least he has confirmed it is doable," he said.
Describing Mr Fenech's presentation as "amateurish", Mr Vella said it was "full of contradictions" and questioned the minister's credentials to criticise Labour's proposal.