Finance fishing boats

Cheap fuel stopped for superyacht thieves

Superyacht brokers have been busy appealing to wealthy owners of some of the biggest boats in the Mediterranean Sea to come down to Malta and take advantage of subsidized diesel fuel for their watercraft.

But the government has been forced to retaliate and halt the sale of this diesel, after millions of euros in diesel subsidies were effectively ‘lost’ to these superyachts in recent months.

A new legal notice introduced this week has effectively halted the sale of off-market diesel to superyachts.

The move comes with internal pressure from the finance ministry, whose experts have concluded that subsidies to help the Maltese people avoid rising petrol and fuel prices were being exploited by the yachting industry. According to an unofficial estimate, “a few million euros” of subsidies have been lost in diesel purchased by opportunistic yachts which have moored in Malta in recent months.

Prices in Malta are cheaper than those in neighboring Italy and Cyprus. This has created a speculative opportunity for superyacht owners who may be inclined to take advantage of Malta’s price stability policy. The legal announcement shorting the sale of this diesel to boats over 24 meters also comes at a time when ministries have been ordered to find 200 million euros in savings at all levels, to compensate for government subsidies on gas and fuel.

The Fuel Quality (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on Friday and will ensure that superyachts do not take advantage of Malta’s price stability policy on fuel prices. The new rules exclude registered fishing vessels.

Anyone caught breaking the regulations will be subject to a fine of up to €69,800. Any illegal distribution of this diesel to these superyachts may also result in a direct suspension of the fuel distributor’s license.

Government sources told MaltaToday that the regulations will also protect consumers and industries from the surge in fuels.

“It was feared that speculation would arise among superyacht owners, coming to Malta specifically to refuel. The government’s intention of supporting consumers in purchasing essentials such as fuel and wheat, among others, is to protect its citizens from high rates of energy cost inflation. The intention is to support those most in need,” government sources told MaltaToday.

Sources insisted the government was adamant about protecting people and businesses from the negative impact of unprecedented energy price hikes. “However, we must all be responsible for our energy consumption, as this policy aims to protect the basic needs of our people.”