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Energy consortium hit with €1.5m asset seizure

The consortium behind the new gas-fired power station has been slapped with a €1.5 million asset seizure, court documents show.

Madame Justice Miriam Hayman last month upheld a request for a garnishee order filed by Ocean Installer, the company that carried out mooring works on the LNG tanker.

Those served with a garnishee order, including banks, are bound to block the assets of an individual or company that allegedly owes money to third parties.

In this case, the garnishee order was served to HSBC, Bank of Valletta, Lombard Bank, APS Bank and Banif Bank.

According to court documents, the dispute involves five invoices for works carried out on the LNG Armada Mediterrana.

One invoice is for €856,000 and refers to mooring works on the tanker. Another €130,000 is owed for “additional works” carried out in connection with its mooring. A sum of €600,000 is due as compensation for orders issued by Electrogas on October 9, 2016, to suspend mooring works.

The garnishee order was served on HSBC, Bank of Valletta, Lombard Bank, APS Bank and Banif Bank

As of yesterday, the garnishee order was still in force.

Ocean Installer was awarded the contract for the procurement of the spread mooring system. This allows the tanker to stay in port during storms. The system is attached to the tanker by way of custom-built winches on deck. The vessel will not be able to supply LNG to the power station when it is on the spread mooring system.

The permit for the tanker and power station operations was approved by the Environment and Resources Authority last December. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and minister Konrad Mizzi promised prior to the election that the power station would be ready in March 2015.

After months of insistence that the project was on track, Dr Mizzi was forced to announce a new deadline: June 2016. This came and went, and it is not yet known when the power station will start generating electricity.

The deal that was concluded between the government and Electrogas has continued to be shrouded in secrecy.

Dr Muscat promised to publish all major deals contracted by the government by the end of last year. A spokesman for the Prime Minister last week insisted that the government had published all contracts it had committed itself to publishing by the end of the year. He said the single exception so far was the “energy contract”, which would be published soon.

“May I remind you that the European Commission is still reviewing the relevant energy contracts,” the spokesman said.

Electrogas has been given a €360 million loan guarantee, and the government has promised to buy out the consortium if the European Commission rejects its security of supply agreement.

Requests under the Freedom of Information Act for all contracts to be published have been rejected.

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