The European commission approved a monopoly energy deal with Azerbaijan under which Maltese taxpayers could be losing tens of million of euros a year, according to an analysis of leaked files, The Guardian reported.
A whistleblower gave a cache of data to the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a car bomb in October.
The leaked material has been shared with the Daphne Project, a collaboration of 18 media organisations from 15 countries, including the Guardian, Reuters and Süddeutsche Zeitung, led by France’s Forbidden Stories.
Caruana Galizia died before being able to publish any findings from the leak. However, three energy experts in London have examined the files. They contain pricing information and contracts that Malta’s current government has so far refused to share with the public.
Some of the material concerns a deal with Azerbaijan’s state-owned oil and gas company Socar, worth more than €1bn, under which Malta agreed to import all the gas needed to supply its power stations for the next 10 years.
Over the past year, Malta has paid at least €131.6m ($153m at annualised exchange rates) for its gas – nearly twice the open market rate.
Maltese taxpayers were losing money “hand over fist”, according to one expert.
The deal was struck with Socar in 2015. Benchmarking indicated Malta was paying a significantly higher rate than similar purchases from the wider market negotiated at that time by Greece, Italy and Turkey. Estimates by the Guardian suggest Socar paid $40m less for the gas than the sum it charged Malta.
The gas is transported in liquid form, known as liquefied natural gas. Experts said there were questions to answer about why Socar, which had no relevant experience in producing or trading LNG when the deal was signed, was chosen as Malta’s partner.