Company set to win tender for new power plant under increased suspicion as it fails to meet criteria

The tender states bidders should have proven experience of at least three years in the leasing of such large power plants, but it seems the only qualification Bonnici Bros has is its connection to the prime minister.


Suspicions of a possible pre-arranged deal on the lease of a new temporary multi-million-euro power plant by Enemalta are increasing as the only Maltese company bidding for the tender that is set to get the deal may not even meet the criteria set.

Industry sources told The Shift that according to the tender’s technical requirements issued by Enemalta, bidders should have proven experience of at least three years in the leasing of such large power plants.

Bonnici Group, managed by Gilbert Bonnici, a former business associate of Prime Minister Robert Abela, submitted the lowest bid for the tender, offering to lease the diesel plant for €37 million.

However, UNEC, the Bonnici Group company submitting the tender, has no known track record in the field and has never leased out any such power plants, which would make it ineligible.

The government’s tender only requested a diesel-fired power plant, the most pollutant installation possible, when it has been harping on a change to low-emissions fuels – LNG or hydrogen – for the past decade.

Enemalta’s tender specifies the need for bidders to have proven experience.

Experts told The Shift that if Enemalta wanted to avoid new legal challenges, which could potentially derail the project, it should disqualify UNEC’s bid as it is not technically compliant.

Questions sent to Gilbert Bonnici on whether his company complies with the tender’s stringent technical requirements remained unanswered.

Government returns to ‘cancer factory’

Suspicions of possible foul play continue to grow. Although cleaner alternatives are already available in the market for leasing such temporary power plants, Enemalta, for some unknown reason, has insisted in its tender that it was only seeking diesel-fired plants.

All of Enemalta’s current suppliers of power provide LNG-produced energy. The fuel is already available onsite at Delimara and is easily available for any new installation.

Still, Enemalta’s tender asked for only a diesel plant, with the state company providing all the fuel necessary for its generation power at a cost over and above the tens of millions to be paid for the plant’s needs.

Industry observers told The Shift that there are many other options that Enemalta could have opted for, including temporary gas-fired plants, both onshore and offshore, through a floating plant.

An energy expert told The Shift that Enemalta’s decision to restrict its tender to diesel could mean that someone had already been earmarked for this tender.

In its project description statement to the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), Enemalta admitted that a diesel option would result in much more pollution and emissions of hazardous fumes than a gas option.

Yet according to Enemalta’s document, the lease of LNG power plants could cost more than diesel.

Enemalta admits in its documents to ERA that the diesel turbines will be much more polluting than LNG

Chairman Ryan Fava did not reply to questions asking him to justify Enemalta’s choice to lease a polluting plant.

Before the 2013 general elections, Labour had made a big issue of the use of diesel-fired power plants, with disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat calling them “a cancer factory”. At the time, LNG technology was not what it is today.

When in government, the Labour Party committed to using LNG for cleaner energy in all new power plants, including the controversial Electrogas plant.

It is not yet known why the Abela administration has made this spectacular U-turn, reversing energy production back to pre-2013, when Labour dubbed diesel the most pollutant fuel for energy supply.

The latest multi-million-euro tender issued by Enemalta is a consequence of years of mismanagement and lack of planning by the state entity.

In a letter to the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), the executive chairman of Enemalta, Ryan Fava, said that without this new temporary power plant, Enemalta could not guarantee the supply of energy needed in summer.


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1 month ago

What you are also missing here is that part of the Bonnici consortium is the previous chairperson of Enemalta who is also an advisor to Minister Dalli.

simon oosterman
simon oosterman
30 days ago

Nothing new here, following the usual pattern!

30 days ago

Will this make Ryan Fava throw in the towel ? If he has what it takes , this is what he should do.
Do not let yourself be used , Inginier Ryan Fava.

30 days ago
Reply to  makjavel

Hearsay is that he is already considering this.

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