Pininfarina says it has ‘no interest’ in investing in Dalli’s Birzebbuga project

Energy Ministry clams up on details of pre-electoral announcement suggesting the involvement of the Italian design giant in the project


The Italian design giant Pininfarina has no intention of participating in any investment in Malta, contrary to the impression given by Energy Minister Miriam Dalli when she announced ‘a 40 million project’ in her constituency, Birżebbuġa, two days before the  elections.

Speaking to The Shift from the company’s HQ in Turin, a spokesman for Pininfarina, normally associated with the design of luxury cars such as Ferrari, clarified that its participation in the press conference organised by Dalli was purely in its capacity as a service provider to the Maltese government, which had commissioned the company to produce a desktop design.

“We have no interest in investing in this project and our brief only concerned the design of the project,” the spokesman said.

Just two days before the March general election, Energy Minister Miriam Dalli organised a lavish press conference to announce a new 40 million project in Birżebbuġa to transform a dilapidated fuel storage facility, once occupied by Oil Tanking Ltd, into an ‘innovation hub’.


An artist’s impression of Is-Sicca presented by Miriam Dalli


Investigations by The Shift show that, so far, no plans, have been presented to the Planning Authority.

At the same time, the former Labour head of news has refused to give any details about her announcement, raising suspicions among industry operators that this was only an electoral gimmick.

Accompanied by Giovanni De Niederhausern, Senior Vice-President of Pininfarina Architecture, flown-in for the occasion, Miriam Dalli said that Is-Sicca, as the area is known among Birżebbuġa and Marsaxlokk residents, “will not only replace a polluting industry but will be an innovative project to meet Malta’s goals of sustainability”.

Giving the impression that the project involved an element of foreign investment, Dalli gave no concrete details about the project, but claimed it will bring new life to the area popular with her constituents.

Oil industry sources told The Shift that the San Lucjan oil facility was transferred to the fuel importer Falzon Group several years ago for use as a storage facility. However, the company has not used the facility for years and the area was transferred back to its original operators – Enemalta.

Asked whether Enemalta, currently facing crippling losses, has any plans to transform the area into the project Miriam Dalli announced, a spokesman said that the state energy provider does not even hold the title of the land in question and is definitely not involved in such a project.

Meanwhile, Minister Dalli continues to refuse to share any further details on her pre-electoral announcement.

The Shift asked which company will be carrying out the project, whether any plans have been presented to the PA, how Pininfarina were chosen for the design, who is investing 40 million and other important questions, however, the minister failed to reply to any of our questions.

The minister’s spokesperson, a former Malta Today journalist who carries the same name  (Miriam Dalli), also refused to state if a public call is going to be made for the necessary works, or crucially, the timeline for completion of the project.

Industry sources told The Shift that Dalli’s announcement, two days before the polls, came as a surprise to them.

So far, the only development on the site which the minster promised to turn into a “blue economy hub,” dates back almost 20 years to when the Falzon Group applied to install a new storage tank. The planning application was withdrawn a few years later.

The minister’s father-in-law, former Labour Minister Karmenu Vella, was responsible for the European Commission’s strategy on the blue economy until he retired in 2019.



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G. Norg
G. Norg
2 years ago

Yes, like she made the Bee Pollination garden in San Gwann, promised a year ago..

G. Borg
G. Borg
2 years ago

Yes, the same way she made the Apiary Garden in San Gwann, promised a year ago.

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