The project promoter started to perform the first project development activities in 2012 and has successfully completed the Pre-Feasibility Study in 2015 and the Basic Design Study in 2017. Both these studies have been co-funded by EU, the former through the TEN-E program and the latter through the CEF program.
The overall conclusion of these completed studies identified a 22 inch diameter hydrogen ready pipeline between Gela (Sicily – Italy) and Delimara (Malta) with an annual operational capacity of 1.2 Bcm as the most technically and economically feasible solution.
The outcomes of the last development activities that are currently being performed with the support of EU through the CEF program, are expected by end of 2020 and will improve the maturity of the project enhancing the investment decision and its construction phase:
- Financial Engineering
- Preliminary Marine Route Survey – Completed in October 2019
- Permitting in Malta and Italy
- Front-End-Engineering-Design and EPC tender preparation
- Starting Point – Gela, Sicily
- Landing Point – Delimara, Malta
- Outside Pipeline Diameter – 22” (560mm)
- Offshore Route – 151 kilometres
- Onshore Route (IT- Gela-Sicily) – 7 kilometres
- Onshore Route (MT – Delimara) – 0.7 kilometre
- Max water depth – 160 m b.s.l.
- Operational Capacity – 1.2 Bcm/year
- Pipeline Design Pressure – 93 barg
- Min. Guaranteed Pressure (Gela) – 50 barg
- Delivery Pressure – 38 barg
- Pipeline Design Temperature – 10/ +60 °C
- Inlet Temperature (Gela) – 15 °C
The characteristics of the SRG (Snam Rete Gas) National Network in Sicily and the pressure requirements of the current design of the MTG Pipeline are such as not to require the construction of a compressor station downstream of the connection.
In order to guarantee access and interface to the gas transmission network, SRG will be constructing a terminal station adjacent to the MTG Terminal Station in Gela. The new interconnection point will be located between the two Terminal Stations and the MTG pipeline shall be connected to the existing Gela-Enna main gas transmission header.
Additionally, the design of the pipeline system can be upgraded in such a way as to cater for the possibility to transport a blend of hydrogen/biomethane/natural gas up to 100% Hydrogen. This capability will give more options to Malta to achieve the decarbonisation goals in line with EU Green Deal objectives for reaching net-zero global warming emissions by 2050. When Biomethane or green Hydrogen would be available in the Italian grid, Malta would be in a position to import green gas to the island which could contribute to the decarbonisation objectives of the energy sector.
ofThe first step in the project development was to conduct a feasibility study and cost-benefit analysis for connecting Malta to the European Gas Network. The scope of the study was to determine the technical and financial viability of the gas connection project including identifying the high-level environmental impacts, risks, legislative, regulatory and market organizational aspects pertaining to the project.
The technical, economic and financial feasibility of the project was complemented by an options analysis, where a number of alternatives to the project were considered as part of the study. A financial and economic assessment was undertaken to determine the size of the pipeline taking into account the demand for gas for the inland market and future market from the maritime bunkering sector.
The study looked into other externalities of the project such as security of supply, competitiveness, sustainability as well as identifying the aspects that make it a potential Project of Common Interest (PCI) as defined by the guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure
For this purpose, an open call for tenders was issued in 2012 which was awarded to Equinox Advisory Ltd. and a contract was signed in September 2013.
An application for EU funding under the Trans-European Energy Networks programme for the execution of this study was submitted in 2012. This proposal was successful and a 50% co-financed grant of a maximum amount of € 126,000 was awarded in November 2013.
In the feasibility study five possible interconnection points were considered, these being: Pozzallo and Gela in Sicily, Otranto and Reggio in Southern Italy and Kalamata (Greece). For each route three scenarios were considered: the possibility of a pipeline interconnection, the berthing of a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit in the port and the option of having a Floating Storage Unit with a separate Regasification Unit on land with a dual flow pipeline. These were subsequently analysed within the subjects of project cost, environmental issues, routing difficulties, prerequisites/complexity and market attractiveness.
It resulted that the two most feasible scenarios were the following:
- A pipeline interconnection between Sicily (Gela) and Malta
- A pipeline interconnection between Sicily (Pozzallo) and Malta (Delimara, DPS)
From the above two, the pipeline linking Malta to Gela was considered as the most favourable due to the existence of the required transmission infrastructure on the Sicilian shoreline.
Preliminary results of the study indicated that, in Gela, the Transmission System Operator (SNAM Rete Gas) could guarantee a minimum pressure of 50barg at all times of year, under any conditions. In addition, it was calculated that no pressure facilities for the gas (i.e. compressor station) will be required at the Gela site in order to achieve the desirable pressure (38barg) at the Delimara Power Station.
Potentially following the completion of this first phase of the project, a second future phase can be planned allowing for potential bi-directional flow of gas through the pipeline by installing a Floating LNG Storage and Re-Gasification Unit (FSRU) located approximately 12km offshore from Delimara intended to supply both Malta’s future gas demands and allow for the possibility of export of natural gas to Italy and thus provide an alternative source of natural gas to the European Gas Network. This second phase is however subject to further in-depth analysis and market development.
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 MTGP connection was to conduct a desktop route identification study including conceptual design of the required infrastructure; and prepare the necessary documentation to initiate the permit granting procedure in both Malta and Italy.
The outcomes of the studies enabled the promoter to prepare and launch the tenders relating to environmental/permitting studies, preliminary marine route survey, front-end engineering design and the financial engineering of the project.
In April 2015, the Maltese Government submitted an application for funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Energy call of 2015 for the co-financing of these studies. In July 2015, the proposal was favourably selected and awarded a maximum grant of €400,000 with a 50% co-financing rate. Following the publication of open public call for tenders for sub-contracting the studies in June 2015, a contract was awarded to Tractebel Engineering S.p.A in November 2015.
The study commenced in July 2015 and all the activities forming part of the study were executed by the end of June 2017.The studies performed by the contractor identified the 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) 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 identified route corridor enabled a preliminary marine route survey to be conducted during the following phase of the project.
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 scoping reports and documentation required to initiate the permitting granting process were drafted by the contractor as part of the study. The main conclusions were first presented informally to the Italian and Maltese Competent Authorities. This ensured that all stakeholders had the opportunity to provide an informal yet robust opinion on the proposed offshore/onshore route and location of connection points and terminal stations in Gela-Sicily and Delimara (Malta) in order to identify any issues vis-a-vis the permitting procedure from an early stage.
A Preliminary Marine Route Survey (PMRS) was required during this preparatory phase of the project prior to its implementation.
For this scope, following a public call for tenders, a contract for the marine survey was awarded to the specialized company Lighthouse. This contract was 50% co-financed by the European Union under the Connecting Europe Facility program.
The survey was carried out on the 1.2 km wide and 151 km long offshore pipeline routing corridor between Malta and Sicily.
The campaign involved geophysical, geotechnical and environmental activities in order to determine the characteristics for an optimal pipeline design with minimal environmental disturbance. Following the survey, a post survey assessment (PSA) was then carried out in order to formalize and investigate the actual findings.
The PMRS survey was carried out using a number of different vessels depending on the location and the type of intervention. First, the geophysical survey was carried out using various equipment including a multi-beam echosounder (MBES), a side-scan sonar (SSS), a magnetometer and a sub-bottom profiler (SBP). With this equipment, it was possible to determine the bathymetry and morphology of the area.
Furthermore, the resolution of the survey allowed the mapping
of all obstructions along the routes such as existing cables,
natural formations, anthropogenic objects and other artefacts.
Additionally, the geological stratigraphy was also obtained for the corridor under investigation to allow the interpretation of the
Following the geophysical survey, a geotechnical and environmental sampling campaign was executed. These activities called for the use of different vessels and equipment from that mentioned above including the use of drilling barges for boreholes, gravity corers, box corers, core penetration testers (CPT), niskin bottles and plankton nets.
This geotechnical phase of the survey allowed the determination of the subsurface properties through investigation of the seabed whilst the environmental study allowed the investigation of the seabed ecology and biodiversity by analysing the sea water quality and sediment characterization.
Finally, all of the above allowed the determination of the optimal 500 m wide pipeline corridor to be investigated further by the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) contractor and eventually by the EPC contractor during the final design and construction stage.
Therefore, the results of the survey and their interpretation through the PSA was crucial in order to determine the optimal pipeline route not only from a design point of view but also from a bathymetric profile and an environmental conservation perspective.
In November 2018, a contract was signed with the Joint Venture Techfem-SPS for the undertaking of the Front-End Engineering Design and the preparation of an Engineering, Procurement and Construction tender. This contract is being 50% co-financed by the European Union under the Connecting Europe Facility program.
The primary scope of the FEED is to provide the necessary information and design model for the drafting of the tender dossier for the EPC contract and to increase the level of accuracy of the cost estimate necessary to enable the final investment decision to be taken.
The FEED study consists of taking the design into a model, producing Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs), Material Take-Off (MTO), process flow diagrams, layouts, isometrics, etc. to a level of engineering solid enough to develop a cost estimate within +/- 15%, and a level 3 schedule which will provide all the inputs required to produce a tender specification for an EPC contract. Most of these activities have already been completed and the rest are in the stages of finalization, pending updates that will be required following the feedback received from the Competent Authorities.
The FEED contractor has already performed a risk assessment. Geotechnical investigations of the onshore route and the identified site of the terminal stations in Gela (Sicily) and Delimara (Malta) were also conducted as part of the FEED study. Core trials were taken for these investigations and neither destructive tests nor excavations were needed. Additionally, an offshore electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) survey was completed offshore Delimara in order to ensure that the rocks in the area are adequate to perform a trenchless microtunnel shore approach to land.
- To ensure the constructability operability and maintainability of the pipeline project and to provide solid technical solutions to avoid or, if not possible, to mitigate the impact on environmentally protected areas, and also identify and propose measures for avoiding potential risks to the pipeline infrastructure safety.
- Consideration and fulfilment of all HSE requirements, including hazard identification and risk assessment, review of Environmental Impact Assessment and support development of Project HSE Plan.
- OVERALL PROJECT
Systems hydraulic design; optimisation of sizing; definition of system and component availability; selection of codes and standards; technical support for permits acquisition; project planning; design of Integrated Control System (ICS) and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems, main and standby telecommunication systems, utility requirements for the project.
- OFFSHORE PIPELINE COMPONENT
Route selection based on the Route Identification Study, the PMRS and post-assessment studies as well as the permitting studies in Italy and Malta including any further necessary desktop studies such as bathymorphological characterisation; metocean study; characterisation of fishing and shipping activities; geohazard and probabilistic seismic risk assessment; on-bottom strength analysis; pipeline integrity analysis; pipeline mechanical design; anti-corrosion design; coating design; stability design; protection design; seabed intervention design; cable crossings design; shore approach design; construction specification, landing point issues.
- ONSHORE PIPELINE COMPONENT
Route assessment; topographical, geotechnical surveys which shall involve drilling of core trials of the on-shore routes and sites of terminal stations in Delimara and Gela; mechanical design; anti-corrosion design; coating design; additional protection design; design and specification of pipeline components; stability and stress analysis; construction specification, cable and pipeline crossings, road and railway crossings, stream and river crossings, trenching and trenchless procedures.
- ASSOCIATED ONSHORE FACILITIES
Terminal station locations and area requirements; foundation requirements, equipment selection; complete multi-disciplinary design for filtering, metering and pressure reduction stations, any heating requirements, vents, pigging stations, valve isolation stations, access and safety requirements.
The FEED studies were completed in 2020.