Enemalta may breach policy to take over part of Delimara

Enemalta will not say whether a damaged steam turbine at the Delimara power station extension will delay the planned takeover of the plant.

The extension had to be transferred to Enemalta at the end of this month but doubts have been raised over this time frame after a steam turbine was damaged during testing.

A spokeswoman said yesterday that Enemalta “may decide to take over the part of the plant not affected by the damage and then accept the damaged part when it is repaired”.

This statement contradicted what Enemalta had told this newspaper last month, that it was the company’s policy “to take over the whole plant as a single unit rather than in parts”.

The issue concerns a new steam turbine that produces energy for use in the plant from the heat generated by the engines.

Enemalta said the turbine was ancillary to the main plant.

The eight diesel engines and the exhaust filtering system were still operational and capable of producing 136MW of electricity, the company added.

Together with its replies, Enemalta also sent a schematic diagram to show how the steam turbine was distinct from the power generation part of the plant.

Information about the damaged steam turbine was first made public by Labour Whip Joe Mizzi in Parliament on Tuesday, supported by photos of the turbine. Enemalta confirmed the incident 24 hours later and yesterday defended its silence on the matter when the damage occurred.

The spokeswoman said it was not normal practice to issue a press release for every fault that happened during testing.

“A testing phase is done precisely to identify such faults and the only reason why the corporation actually issued a statement was to clarify comments made by Mr Mizzi, which, although based on some facts, were not altogether correct,” the spokeswoman said.

She explained that a problem with the turbine’s stop valve was identified last week. The valve is a mechanism in the turbine that stops the flow of steam. When the cause of the problem was identified, she added, the steam turbine was opened for further investigation on Monday. This is when Enemalta first learnt of the damage to the turbine.

“The extent of the damage still hasn’t been identified and parts need to be shipped to the UK for more investigation and repair,” she said, adding that the company would not have acted responsibly had it made public announcements on incomplete information.

This line of reasoning was endorsed by the Finance Ministry, responsible for the energy corporation.

A spokesman said that before Enemalta could make any statement, it had to collect the information on the specific issue.

“It would have been irresponsible to comment and make public an issue before ensuring that its legal position is not endangered and that full responsibility is assumed by the contractor, which is still responsible for the plant,” the ministry spokesman said.

The controversial Delimara extension is still the responsibility of its manufacturer, Danish company BWSC.

Enemalta said that BWSC accepted responsibility for the incident and would rectify the damage at its expense.

“At this moment in time, Enemalta doesn’t have any indication of costs and this is independent of any legal claims Enemalta will be making on BWSC with regard to liquidated damages and any other contractual penalties,” the spokeswoman said.

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