Route Identification Study and Preparatory Activities for the Permitting Process
Following completion of the TEN-E funded feasibility study and cost-benefit analysis for connecting Malta to the European gas network in April 2015, the next step for the development of the Malta-Italy gas pipeline interconnection (Phase 1 of PCI 5.19) was to conduct a desktop route identification study including conceptual design of the infrastructure required; and prepare the necessary documentation to initiate the permit granting procedure in both Malta and Italy.
An open call for tenders for the provision of services for conducting these studies was published in June 2015. This tender was awarded to Tractebel Engineering S.p.A on the 9th November 2015. The Action commenced in July 2015 and the three activities which formed part of the Action and are being described below, were completed in June 2017:
Activity 1: Route Identification Study including conceptual design
Activity 1 of the Action consisted of a ‘Route Identification Study’ required to identify the optimal pipeline route corridor of 1.2km width between Gela (Sicily) and Delimara (Malta), including the identification of landfall sites and connection points with the lowest environmental and socioeconomic impacts. This was based on known existing restrictions and a high-level risk assessment of environmental impacts from available datasets and information. The study was required to deliver specific route corridor coordinates to enable a preliminary marine route survey to be conducted and determine suitable tie-in points in Gela and Delimara including onshore routes and sites for terminal stations. As part of this activity, a basic design of the whole infrastructure was conducted. Furthermore, a hydraulic analysis for determination of pipeline design pressure and pipeline thickness, taking into consideration the bi-directionality aspect, was also included as part of the design study.
An alternative landing point and on-shore route was investigated on the western side of Gela. Based on the results of the basic design study, an update of the CAPEX/OPEX estimation and project implementation timeline was conducted.
Activity 2: Preparatory activities related to the Italian Permitting Process
This activity related to the preparatory activities in relation to the permit granting process in Italy. The first task was to identify all the applicable Italian permitting procedures for the implementation of the project based on applicable EU and Italian legislation at national, regional and municipal levels, including relative timeframes and required documentation to initiate the permitting process. This was followed by the preparation of a ‘Scoping Report’ required in order to initiate the pre-application procedure which will in turn enable the Italian Competent Authority to prepare the terms of reference for the EIA studies. These were required in order to issue the Italian development permit for the construction of the gas pipeline in the Italian territorial waters and terminal station in Gela, Sicily.
Activity 3: Preparatory documentation for the Maltese Permitting Process
As part of Activity 3, a Scoping Report (referred to as ‘Project Description Statement’) relating to the Maltese development permit for the construction of the terminal station in Delimara (Malta) and the laying of the pipeline in the island’s territorial waters was prepared in parallel to Activity 2. This was required to commence the screening/scoping procedure of the Maltese permitting pre-application procedure in order to obtain the terms of reference for the EIA studies from the Maltese Competent Authority.
The Action identified an optimal 1.2km wide offshore and on-shore route corridor, landfall areas, connection points and sites of terminal stations in both Delimara (Malta) and Gela (Sicily). The basic design of the pipeline and all related land-based infrastructure confirmed a 22” diameter pipeline with a slight increase in length to 159 km (151km offshore route, 7km on-shore route in Gela (Sicily) and 1km on-shore route in Delimara).
The study has identified the Italian legislations and regulations that affect the permit granting procedure for projects of this or similar nature, as well as the institutional stake holders to be consulted during the whole process. The scoping reports and documentation required to initiate the permitting granting process were informally presented to the interested Authorities and main stakeholders before their finalisation. This ensured that all stakeholders had the opportunity to provide their informal opinion on the proposed offshore/onshore route and location of interconnection point /terminal stations from an early stage. Furthermore this allowed for the identification of any issues (ex. environmental, cultural, touristic, future plans/projects etc.) which may positively or negatively affect the project; especially vis-a-vis the permitting process to be made known from the beginning.
In May 2017, a formal letter of intent was signed between the Maltese Office of the Prime Minister with the Sicilian Energy Directorate for collaboration in this regard.
Connecting Europe Facility
In April 2015, the Maltese Government submitted an application for funding under the first Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) energy call of 2015 for co-financing of these studies as part of the implementation of the Project of Common Interest PCI 5.19. In July 2015, the proposal was favorably considered by the European Commission and awarded a maximum grant of €400,000 with a 50% co-financing rate.
Contribution to PCI development
The CEF-funded study has enabled the following important milestones for project implementation to be achieved:
- July-September 2017 : Submission of the Scoping Reports to the Maltese and Italian Competent Authorities
- October 2017: Preparation and submission of a proposal for CEF funding of all the required studies to be conducted in the next 30 months for obtaining the permits, a CBCA decision and Final Investment Decision which shall enable the publishing of a tender for an EPC Contract and submission of a CEF proposal for funding of works in 2020.
- July-November 2017: Submission and obtainment of acknowledgment of the notification pursuant to Article 10 (1)(a) of the TEN-E Regulation, where the project has been declared as mature enough for the launching of the permit granting procedures
- October-November 2017: Publication of three tenders for the implementation of the next phase of the project:-
- Advisory services for permitting procedures, preliminary marine route survey and front end engineering design.
- Services related to promotion and publicity
- Financial engineering
- November-December 2017: Issuance of the Terms of Reference for the EIA studies from the Italian and Maltese Competent Authorities
- Project Description Statement for Maltese permitting procedure
- Scoping Report for Italian permitting procedure
- Elaborati Progettuali
- Basic Design Final Report
- Offshore Pipeline Route Selection Report
- Onshore Pipeline Route Selection Report
- Geotechnical Investigation Report of Delimara Peninsula (Malta)
Links to Articles:
- Article on the Times of Malta – 03/11/2017: Malta-Sicily gas pipeline calls for tender issued
- TVM Article – 27/07/2017: Applications submitted for the building of gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily
- Article within the TVM news portal – 26/01/2017: Studies being carried out for best land route in Sicily to lay gas pipe line
- Times of Malta article – 15/07/2015: EU approves funds for Malta gas pipeline study