Kiewit looking at options for Marystown

Steve Bartlett
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The Marystown Shipyard. — File photo

A spokesman for Kiewit Infrastructure says the company has no plans to pull out of the Marystown shipyard.

“We’re continuing to look at all the options to see if there’s more work in Marystown, and that’s all we can say as far as a comment on future projects,” Bob Kula said Wednesday.

Concerns about the shipyard’s future surfaced Tuesday after the Canadian Auto Workers/Marine Workers Federation (CAW/MWF) said all unionized workers had been given layoff notices and there were no indications the company is pursuing future work.

Kula said the layoffs were handed out because a project — the second provincial ferry built at the yard recently — was concluding. Between 35 and 40 workers are affected.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale didn’t see the dismissals coming.

She told a Telegram editorial board the move was unexpected given the considerable work taking place in the province.

“We have a lot of things going on here at the moment between Hebron, Long Harbour, we’re gearing up for Muskrat Falls — I mean there’s lots of opportunity in the province, plus our own ferries and so on, so it is surprising.”


 Dunderdale also said the province has been negotiating with Kiewit on building a third ferry, and has worked closely with the company in recent years on addressing infrastructure needs for lucrative federal contracts.

“Nowhere in those discussions did they ever indicate to us they had issues around capacity in terms of their bidding and so on.”

This is the second Kiewit announcement in recent months that’s raised concerns. In April, the company took itself out of the running to become one of two shipbuilding centres of excellence, part of a $35-billion overhaul of Canadian maritime infrastructure. At the time, the company said it was too busy with other projects across the country, including jobs at Bull Arm and Long Harbour.

In the wake of Tuesday’s news, the province is trying to find out what’s going on with Kiewit. The premier said they’ve asked the company some questions.

“I have no idea what the answers are going to be, or how quickly they are going to be forthcoming with them,” Dunderdale said. “Kiewit is a private company and certainly don’t take instruction from us.”

Government’s approach wasn’t speedy enough for Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones, who suggested Dunderdale immediately ask Kiewit officials for a briefing.

The Liberal leader also said the government ministers have a history of not being on top of their files.

“When Kiewit withdrew from bidding on the $35-billion federal shipbuilding contract, Kathy Dunderdale and her ministers were the last to know,” Jones said in a release, “even though Dunderdale herself is from the Burin Peninsula and her Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman represents the district where the yard is located. Now we have Kiewit laying-off all its staff at the yard and Dunderdale’s government is in the dark again.”

Jones also said the premier should provide an update on negotiations with Kiewit about the third ferry.

“The government has already allocated money for this ferry to be built,” she said. “Why hasn’t the deal been concluded and the work already started at the yard?”

Meanwhile, CAW/MWF local president Wayne Butler said the membership will meet late Thursday afternoon.

“I’m going to fill them in on the discussions were having with the company, and after that, I probably might have a few more comments for the media.”

The local represents some 350 workers.

Twitter: bartlett_steve

Organizations: Marine Workers Federation, Canadian Auto Workers

Geographic location: Marystown, Hebron, Long Harbour

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Recent comments

  • Dale
    February 11, 2012 - 02:34

    well said know ur facts. i worked for kiewit energy for many years, i must say they are pritty consistent with there work and picking up jobs..they have work pritty much all over the world....kiewit has huge projects in alberta as well as nl.....u dont hear alberta naging on kiewit for more money or work....there just glade to have kiewit in there province creating jobs and rev......and one more thing we dont really need more comptition, maybe if the major companys joint ventured from time to time instead of competing...maybe it would be better for the province of nl and the companys.

  • Graham
    June 23, 2011 - 13:26

    Nothing will happen here until after the next Provincial Election.

  • John
    June 23, 2011 - 11:43

    Isn't this the company that got this yard for $1.00 - yes one single loonie? Being the pesimest that I am, I somehow doubt they'll sell it back to the government for that sum ($1.00); we'd be lucky if we could get it for $50,000,000.

    • ANDREW
      June 24, 2011 - 05:58

      No JOHN, you're wrong. Freddie-Goldman bought the company for $1.00 from the Government, that company then finished off the (3) contracts that the governement had already locked down for them - 2 freezer trawlers and the Navy's QUEST, and then the company declared bankruptcy and sold the yard to Kiewit for $8,000,000.00. Good try though. Thanks.

  • Michael
    June 23, 2011 - 09:15

    I am wondering has Kiewit Infrastructure ever brought in any work to Marystown from outside of Newfoundland! I don't know. That's why I ask the question. It seems like they are only here to get contracts from Newfoundland and Newfoundland projects. They are not trying to muster up business from outside the province. I thought they would be bidding on projects from Europe to the United States, but it seems like they are here to only do Newfoundland projects and ship the profits down south. They even wouldn't bid on the 35 billion Canadian maritime infrastructure project. That is pretty disgusting!! You don't want to know my mind on that decision! Why do we have a company here like that that doesn't even want to invest any of their money to grow? We have FPSOs that need servicing, but Kiewit won't invest their money to build a berth to accommodate them because they have no faith in Newfoundland. They are here only for the profit! If Newfoundland would invest 200 million dollars in new infrastructure in Marystown then of course Kiewit Infrastructure would have tried to get the Canadian contract. They want Newfoundland to build their infrastructure for them and then they would take the profits!! I guess that is typical business. But that is also why governments are in debt and large companies are in the black(profits). Myself personally, I think Nalcor needs to expand. If Nalcor spent 200 million in infrastructure at Marystown then at least we would get the profits(if any), but we would also provide jobs. Nalcor needs to play a bigger role in building infrastructure, as well as oil rigs, FPSOs, pipelines and natural gas plants. Newfoundland has the resources to build ships, oil and gas infrastructures, and almost anything else you can think of. Maybe we should get the Koreans to build a steel plant here. With all the iron ore available and cheap hydro that we could provide them, it just makes sense to start shopping around. We need to shop around!! Canada won't invest here!! Too much regionalism and jealousy! Canada will give us nothing, so we need to have vision and do it ourselves!! Danny Williams once said that the Chinese were interested in our offshore if Exxon wasn't. Well, I think it is high time to look to Asian majors to play a bigger role in Newfoundland's resource development! A little more competition wouldn't hurt!! Vision! Vision! That is what we need! There could be a tunnel built under the Strait of Belle Isle for 1 billion dollars. Why shouldn't we do this! It could allow car travel, Lower Churchill electricity lines, and the Bjarni natural gas pipeline to come to the island and power the island and then be shipped out to Nova Scotia for export. Where are the visionaries in Newfoundland today? I currently to not see them in Dunderdale's government! The Norwegians can do a tunnel for a billion dollars! We must think about the future. Natural gas is abundant in Labrador, the Grand Banks and the West coast. Lets have a pipeline to connect these places up and give it feedstock!! Natural gas can be the fuel for Newfoundlanders of the future and centuries to come. That and hydro!! A no brainer if you ask me!! So, after all my ranting, I think Nalcor is more suited to growing Newfoundland than Kiewit is. We must not forget, Kiewit is here only for profit and do not give a rat's ass about the people of Marystown or Newfoundland!

    • ANDREW
      June 24, 2011 - 06:09

      MICHAEL, sorry to break it to you, but you couldn't be more wrong. Kiewit seek work constantly for drill rig re-fits, FPSO refits, etc, etc. They are currently (As I type this) building 3 cofferdams and a mock-up to fulfill SUNCOR's requirement for work on the Terra Nova FPSO. Of course Kiewit isn't going to spend 100's of millions of dollars to renovate the yard to have a dry dock for an FPSO? Do you have any idea how large an FPSO is? It would take up 80% of Kiewit's Real Estatate at Cow Head and therefore remove them for any competition in bidding on module fabrication for Long Harbour, Hebron, Hibernia, etc, etc. Also, oil companies such as SUNCOR rarely perform refits on their FPSO's, it destroys their stock value when they aren't producing oil. Why would Kiewit spend all that money to perform a refit on an FPSO every 20 years. As for all your comments about NALCOR being more suited to growing Newfoundland than Kiewit is, you do realize that Kiewit is a construction company and NALCOR is a crown utility corporation - correct? If NALCOR wanted to develop and build "pipelines" than they would have to hire a company like Kiewit to do the work. They two companies aren't even in the same industry. You really need to figure your things out. One more comment about the growing Newfoundland, Kiewit has been around for 127 years and have never ever had a losing year - they've dominated Alberta in their boom and now they currently hold the two largest contracts in Newfoundland, the $1 billion Hebron GBS and the $600 Million Long Harbour Electrical & Mechanical contract. For these two projects, Kiewit will have in this province close to 700 staff and 5000 craft workers. How many employees does Nalcor have? And no you must not forget that Kiewit is a company just like any other company. How many department stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc, etc close down because they are losing too much money? Kiewit aren't in this business to lose money and they haven't been around for 127 years by making bad business decisions. Good try MICHAEL.