Saudis behind Bonnici Brothers’ €37 million power station tender

Company could have provided LNG plant instead of polluting diesel


The government has confirmed that the Maltese company awarded the multi-million-euro tender to provide a temporary diesel power station this summer will subcontract the work to a Saudi Arabian company based in Dubai.

Energy Minister Miriam Dalli confirmed that the Bonnici Brothers’ company, UNEC, which Enemalta selected to provide the €37 million leased power plant for two years, does not have the necessary experience required in the tender and will rely on the Saudi company to deliver the power plant.

Dalli told PN energy spokesman Ryan Callus that the Saudis leased such plants and are the subcontractors of UNEC, the winning bidder. According to the minister, this was permitted by the “general conditions” of the tender.

However, industry insiders insisted that the tender was clear in its requirements that the bidder, not the subcontractors, list their proven experience.

“What we have now is that UNEC will subcontract the power plant to the real experts, earning a good cut (commission) from the contract. It would have been cheaper if Enemalta had given the tender directly to the Saudis and not to a middleman,” one said.

Why diesel?

Apart from diesel, the Saudi company Altaaqa Alternative Solutions Global FZE  also provides energy plants powered by natural gas, a resource already available at Enemalta’s Delimara site. Nevertheless, the government opted for a diesel solution.

Before the 2013 general elections, one of Labour’s key electoral pledges was to abolish diesel-fired power plants, with disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat calling them “a cancer factory.”

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. Neither Enemalta nor Minister Dalli have explained the sudden change of heart.

Moreover, according to the tender, the €37 million payment does not even include diesel consumption.

Enemalta will supply the diesel fuel directly at an additional cost to the operation. The temporary plant is estimated to consume tons of diesel and is much less efficient than natural gas and more polluting.

Bonnici Brothers’ The company’s managing director, Gilbert Bonnici, was a former business partner of Abela and his wife, and the company has won several multi-million-euro tenders in the last few years, such as the €600 million Maghtab incinerator.


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1 month ago

I had a dream of a room stuffed with money being opened and selected people going in and taking as much as possible befor the door closes, it’s not so much a dream as a nightmare. Then I wake up to find it’s the reality of the Energy policies they have and the broken infrastructure which is broken beyond repair, God help us.

simon oosterman
simon oosterman
1 month ago

Friends and friends of friends! Accepted by the Maltese as ‘normal’. Tender terms are broken, too much taxpayer money is spent and we hear nothing from the PN or anybody else.

29 days ago

It is a simple diagnosis. 

1. No plan. The ensuing chaos then makes it easy to serve friends. 
2. Abuse general ignorance of economics to indebt the country to its eyeballs.
3. Grab as much as possible to insulate yourself.

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