Fabian Demicoli

Gas Distributors in the Doldrums

 By agreement reached in 1995 between GRTU and the Government of Malta as representative of Enemalta Corporation, who was there not only as the national energy supplier but also as the public regulator and licence authority in the energy sector, the gas distributor future was assured. Gas distributors were given a license by Enemalta as the Licensing Authority that enables them to distribute and sell gas cylinders in the whole territory of Malta and Gozo.

The territory was divided among 29 distributors in Malta and 2 distributors in Gozo. Each distributor was given exclusivity in each zone provided the "distributor distributed gas cylinders of Enemalta Corporation or of other private suppliers".  

GRTU therefore ensured, and the Maltese Government accepted after the matter was referred to Brussels, that after an eventual Malta-EU accession, the Gas Distributors would continue to enjoy their exclusivity as long as they do not try to foreclose the territory under their charge to any new supplier on the market. This is the same system that is operational in most EU member states including Belgium where Gas Distributors distribute a variety of cylinders according to the consumer's choice.

When the gas distribution was privatised to Liquigas/Gasco, the new company inherited, as successor of Enemalta, the contract the Gas Distributors had with Enemalta. Gasco Ltd is now refusing to honour this agreement.

GRTU has therefore presented a claim to Government, who signed the privatisation deal and promised Gas distributors that their licence would be honoured by Government to commence negotiations for the liquidation of the agreement.

This is essential the same story as with the busses. Government by act of privatisation has denied Gas Distributors their livelihood as Government thought its action is effectively withdrawing the licence commitment to each distributor. The dismissed Distributors now seek full compensation and then Gasco will be free to operate its own system. But Government and Gasco cannot have the cake and eat it.

The 31 Distributors have a right for their compensation and GRTU will fight for their rights.

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