VALLETTA Dec 14 Nexans Norway, a global company in the provision of cabling, has been contracted by the Maltese government to lay a submarine electrical interconnector linking Malta to the European power grid in Sicily.
The 182 million euro contract was signed on Tuesday in the presence of Finance Minister Tonio Fenech.
The interconnector is to be commissioned by the end of 2013 and is expected to deliver up to 225 megawatts of electricity. It will have a sub-sea route length of 95 kilometres and will be laid in sea depths of 160 metres.
Fenech said the link to the European grid would enable Malta to keep up with growing demand for electricity, while also enabling the island to phase out an old power station at Valletta harbour.
Another power station, at Delimara in the south of the island, will also be extended, giving the country two sources of electrical power while reducing emissions.
Nexans was selected following a second round of bidding after the first call for tenders was cancelled in July. The only tenderer at the time, ABB Consortium, was found to be administratively non-compliant with the tender conditions.
Fresh bids were then requested from four shortlisted companies but only three submitted a bid - ABB, Nexans and Prysmian PowerLink. The Nexans bid was 25 million euros cheaper than second-placed ABB.
"This project will provide Malta with an economically viable source of energy as well as giving us peace of mind," Mr Fenech said at the signing ceremony.