Cashing in on construction

Andrew Robinson
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Opportunities abundant for local companies on major N.L. projects

A detailed overview was provided Saturday on how construction industry stakeholders may benefit from major developments in Newfoundland and Labrador (NLCA).

Ashley Turner of Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors provided an update on construction of the Hebron gravity base structure production platform at
a Saturday morning seminar at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s hosted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association.
— Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

A three-hour seminar hosted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association (NLCA) at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland offered details on activities related to the Canadian military, offshore infrastructure, electricity generation, and provincial government infrastructure.

Ashley Turner of Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors (KKC) discussed ongoing work to build the gravity base structure (GBS) production platform for the Hebron project. At present, KKC has reached the 27.5-metre mark for slipform operations. The structure will eventually reach a height of 120 metres not including the integrated topsides deck, which is being handled by WorleyParsons. The deck and GBS are scheduled to come together at the end of 2015.

Turner said the GBS will be towed out of drydock in May to the deepwater site where marine preparation work will take place. June and July will represent peak periods of employment for KKC’s part of the Hebron project, she said.

On the contracts side of operations, Turner said 10 packages have yet to reach the expressions of interest stage. She encouraged companies to sign up for the vendor registration database and to keep an eye on the bidders list for opportunities to collaborate with other companies.

Lance Clarke, a consultant working for Nalcor Energy, discussed opportunities related to the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development. He said it is essential to keep the business community aware of how the massive project is progressing.

“We’re into a four- or five-year megaproject, so the better we ensure the information is out there, the more prepared the business community is to be able to come in and participate and supply to us,” he said. “Therefore competition is better, therefore value is better.”

In the next six months, Clarke expects the biggest opportunities for local businesses to work on the Lower Churchill Falls project will concern transmission line, converter station and switchyard contracts.

“We have some large contracts that are yet to be awarded and are imminent, and that’s where folks can get in and participate,” he said, noting there will be valuable subcontractor opportunities available. Packages and lists of bidders are posted on the Nalcor Energy website.

Clarke said the development’s profile may also lead to opportunities for work outside the province, as utility companies and mega-project investors are watching Muskrat Falls.

“The better we do on this job, the more opportunity we’ll have for the future, because other investors are going to want to come here and do business.”

Representing military activities in the province, Jeff Hopkins of the Crown corporation Defence Construction Canada said there is $50 million in remediation work set to take place in the next few years at 5 Wing Goose Bay.

“There’s some significant — big understatement — civil work to go on up there,” he said with respect to a seven-kilometre stretch of land where garbage was dumped. He said the land will need to be capped.

Work in Goose Bay will require some creative thinking on the civil engineering and environmental services side of matters, according to Hopkins. Most military tenders do get posted with the NLCA, he said.

Work on the new Canadian Forces Station St. John's is nearly finished. Hopkins said it should be completed by May and ready for a grand opening in late June.

Transportation and Works Deputy Minister Brent Meade was also on hand to discuss construction opportunities with the provincial government. He provided an overview of projects nearing completion, those that will go to market this year, and others on the horizon.

“Transportation and works, the default position would be if it’s being built by the province, we’re involved,” he said. “Generally, we manage all projects, including health care, education projects, and all others.”

Over the last 10 years, the province has spent an average annual amount of $600 million on infrastructure, according to Meade. The new hospital for Corner Brook is in the earliest stages of development, and Meade said the new penitentiary and Waterford Hospital in St. John’s represent some of the province’s larger projects on the horizon.

“We’ve started to do some business planning on the penitentiary,” he said.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association, Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland, Nalcor Energy Defence Construction Canada Canadian Forces Station Waterford Hospital

Geographic location: Hebron, Goose Bay, Lower Churchill Falls St. John's Corner Brook

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