Interconnect Malta (ICM) is starting the offshore works of the preliminary marine route survey (PMRS) for Interconnector 2, the second submarine electricity cable between Malta and Italy.

Last week, the 60-metre vessel Urbano Monti sailed out of the Grand Harbour to start surveying a 600-metre-wide corridor of seabed along the proposed interconnector route, which extends circa 100 kilometres from Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq to Marina di Ragusa, in Sicily. The maximum seabed depth of this route is expected to be 160 metres.

The PMRS is essential for the development of Malta’s second interconnector, ICM explains, because it will provide bathymetric, geophysical, and geotechnical information to plot the safest and most sustainable route of the submarine cable. It will also provide the required data to design the cable burial methods and physical protection for the overall electrical scheme.

 ICM is a 100 per cent Government owned company established on 4th August 2021 and falls under the responsibility of the Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise.

It designed the preliminary route to avoid sites of ecological importance as well as bunkering, aquaculture, touristic, fishing, and trawling areas, and other restricted zones. To ensure effective redundancy, the design also keeps this cable as far away as technically possible from Interconnector 1, the first subsea electricity cable between the two countries energised in 2015.

The Italian surveying company Fugro S.p.A, was contracted to conduct the PMRS earlier this year, following an international call for tenders. It will be using the offshore survey vessel Urbano Monti, which is equipped with state-of-the-art positioning, multibeam echo-sounder, side scan sonar, sub-bottom profiler, magnetometer, ROV, gravity coring, cone penetrometer, sample collecting and other equipment necessary to carry out a high-quality survey according to the project requirements.

Nearshore survey works started in Sicily last week using a smaller vessel, whereas nearshore surveying at Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, Malta will commence shortly. Depending on weather conditions, the offshore survey will continue until mid-October.  The contractor will then proceed with data analysis and reporting.

ICM recently also issued other calls for tenders for this project’s front-end engineering design (FEED) and for the environmental impact assessments (EIA) required as part of this development’s applicable permitting processes in Italy and Malta. Thereafter, the company will issue a call for tenders for the Engineering, Procurement and Commissioning of this new interconnector.

“Apart from augmenting security of supply to meet present and future electricity demand, Interconnector 2 will also provide the necessary reserve capacity to accommodate the energy output intermittency of Malta’s ever-increasing share of grid-connected renewable energy sources, contributing to the country’s climate objectives, for a better quality of life,” ICM said in a statement.

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