Towers won't go quietly: Marystown council

Paul Herridge
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Leave well enough alone. That's the message coming out of Marystown town council, regarding towers borrowed by Kiewit Offshore Services from the province-owned Bull Arm Site Corp. during construction work on the White Rose project.

Last month the company received a letter from the Department of Justice insisting the infrastructure, vital for projects related to floating storage production and off-loading (FSPO) vessels such as 'SeaRose' and 'Terra Nova', be dismantled and shipped back to the Trinity Bay fabrication facility by Aug. 28.

Kiewit Offshore Services has received a letter from the Department of Justice indicating towers, shown above, which were loaned to the Marystown shipyard must be returned to the Bull Arm fabrication site, which is owned by the provincial government, by Au

Leave well enough alone. That's the message coming out of Marystown town council, regarding towers borrowed by Kiewit Offshore Services from the province-owned Bull Arm Site Corp. during construction work on the White Rose project.

Last month the company received a letter from the Department of Justice insisting the infrastructure, vital for projects related to floating storage production and off-loading (FSPO) vessels such as 'SeaRose' and 'Terra Nova', be dismantled and shipped back to the Trinity Bay fabrication facility by Aug. 28.

The issue was brought up for discussion at Tuesday's council meeting, with councillors in agreement the towers should stay put.

Deputy Mayor Julie Mitchell suggested the financial numbers for returning the towers don't add up. She said figures council received from the industry suggested Kiewit added about $6 million in additional infrastructure to the original towers.

The deputy mayor also said to take the towers down and ship them back would cost Kiewit around $1.2 million. Furthermore, she indicated it would cost the province about $2 million to reassemble them at Bull Arm, while the cost to the government to build a new set of towers at Bull Arm would be roughly $2.2 million.

Mitchell said council doesn't want new ones built at the Cow Head site, preferring to see the revamped towers stay where they are.

She suggested should Bull Arm need the infrastructure for a project, the matter might be different but, as of the moment the facility doesn't need the towers.

As it stands, she said companies who lease the Bull Arm site from government already have an unfair advantage over Kiewit when bidding for contracts. They don't have overhead costs, pay only a nominal rental fee and can walk away when the project is complete.

Kiewit has a bid placed on an upcoming Terra Nova project, with other companies that could potentially use the Bull Arm site also said to be in the running.

Mitchell told council members Tuesday, "I think that the Bull Arm site is directly in unfair competition, subsidized by our own provincial government ... and we can't lose sight of that in our fight to keep those towers. I stand here firmly and say those towers cannot leave."

Other members of council expressed the same opinion.

Coun. Dave Brenton said council met via a conference call with Burin-Placentia West MHA Clyde Jackman several weeks ago, when the issue first came to light, agreeing to wait until he could talk further with Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale whose department oversees the Bull Arm Site Corp.

Brenton suggested enough time had passed. "It's the single most important issue in our town right now, and I think we should be gearing up for a fight," he said.

Several councillors suggested the need to gain the support of other towns on the peninsula, given the regional importance of the Kiewit facility.

Coun. Charles Wiscombe said, "I think the point has to be made that the towers stay in Marystown and the government should be negotiating with Kiewit to leave the towers there.

"Our member, Mr. Jackman, needs to be in front of us in council to give us his position, with his friend (Grand Bank MHA Darin) King, because they are talking regional developments and it's a regional issue - it's not just a Marystown issue - and we need to do that."

Brenton agrees with meeting with other councils, after Marystown's Come Home Year celebrations, this week.

The deputy mayor acknowledged time may be running short. Mitchell said for Kiewit to meet the Aug. 28 deadline, she was told dismantlement of the towers would have to had begun last week and, beforehand, an inspector from Bull Arm was supposed to visit the Marystown facility.

She said to the best of her knowledge, an inspection hasn't been done and the Aug. 28 deadline is still in place, although that could change.

The Southern Gazette

Organizations: Marystown town council, Bull Arm Site, Kiewit Offshore Services Department of Justice Grand Bank

Geographic location: Kiewit, Terra Nova, White Rose Trinity Bay Marystown Cow Head

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Recent comments

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Simple enough... If this Multi-Billion dollar company has invested 6 million into the towers allready why dont they just protect their investment and purchase the towers for a mere 2 Million.

  • Joe in NB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    First, I'm a Marystown native and agree that where Kiewit goes, Marystown goes. If this company cannot be successful in Marystown, then the town and the surrounding communities will suffer greatly as they have over the past several years.

    That being said, Kiewit is a huge rich company. They should simply take on the cost of building new towers at the Bull Arm site (2.2 mil as stated in the article) and leave the existing, enhanced towers where they are. The province (i.e. taxpayers) shoud not be on the hook for anything here.

  • nj
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Jim I think your missing the point, one Bull Arm does not need the towers right now (two) Kiewit has invested 6 million of their own money in the towers making them far more valuable, they only cost 2 million to build. It would cost 1.2 million just to ship them. Maybe the province should just charge kiewit the orig 2 million that it cost to build them. There problem solved, not to mention the other points in the article unfair advantage being a big one. The peninsula needs all the help it can get in attracting work even if it means helping a billion dollar corp provide that work.

  • Hebron GBS to be built
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    To nj, with the Hebron deal about to be announced any day do you really think its a coincidence Bull Arm are looking for these towers?

  • nj
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Just to clarify my comments I in no way agree that Kiewit should just keep the towers scott free but suggested they purchase them from the province at cost (2 mil) or as Joe suggested pay to have new ones constructed at Bull Arm. At least that would provide some much needed work for the people in the area. Hebron GBS to be built at Bull Arm???? no I am not naive enough to think that it's just wishful thinking by Bull Arm. I am sure the ink has already dried on that one.

  • Henry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    As I posted on the Southern Gazette's site, this really is ridiculous... How can a town council justify the hijacking of infrastructure that is not theirs to keep. The towers belong to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador... NOT the private company of Kiewit and Sons. If Kiewit wants to keep the towers (or Marystown for that matter) ante up the 2 million it costs to build the towers.

    It does not matter how much added infrastructure Kiewit added, so that is a moot point. You can add all you want to an apartment but that doesn't mean you get to keep the house. Take it off before you send it back if that is the case. If that is not possible, then it should have been known when those expenses were added that they would not be recouped when the deal was over.

    I certainly want to see the Marystown yard succeed, and the peninsula in general. I am from the area and know how much the yard means to the economy on the peninsula. However, succeeding should not be happening at the expense of the rest of the people of the province and at the benefit of this private company. Peter Kiewit needs to abide by the rules any other company would, and council should be mature enough to recognize that.

    Mrs. Mitchell should be ashamed of herself for suggesting they keep something they have not bought. I understand her wanting to ensure the best for the people of the region, but at least do it within the realm of reason. And making the argument over the cost to ship the towers back is silly as well. Given the uproar over the $1200 constituency allowance, most people would likely find the $200,000 difference in cost for building new towers at Bull Arm versus shipping back the original significant.

    Fight all you want, but unless you are fighting to have Kiewit BUY what they want to OWN, then it will likely be a losing battle... and rightly so! Why everyone thinks the only people to fight when a fight needs to happen is government is beyond me.... How about you lobby this company to own their own equipment for future security in project bids.

  • Jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    For a town that is looking at hopefully getting a multi billion dollar federal contract, I think your not giving any department much reason to trust in you. These towers were lent to Kiewit in good faith by the province and now you don't want to give them back. I for one don't believe that we should be GIVING FREE EQUIPMENT to a multi billion dollar company. I think its time to look at how outside departments will look at this move. Do you want potential customers to think they can't trust this town and company with your word, I don't think so.

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Simple enough... If this Multi-Billion dollar company has invested 6 million into the towers allready why dont they just protect their investment and purchase the towers for a mere 2 Million.

  • Joe in NB
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    First, I'm a Marystown native and agree that where Kiewit goes, Marystown goes. If this company cannot be successful in Marystown, then the town and the surrounding communities will suffer greatly as they have over the past several years.

    That being said, Kiewit is a huge rich company. They should simply take on the cost of building new towers at the Bull Arm site (2.2 mil as stated in the article) and leave the existing, enhanced towers where they are. The province (i.e. taxpayers) shoud not be on the hook for anything here.

  • nj
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Jim I think your missing the point, one Bull Arm does not need the towers right now (two) Kiewit has invested 6 million of their own money in the towers making them far more valuable, they only cost 2 million to build. It would cost 1.2 million just to ship them. Maybe the province should just charge kiewit the orig 2 million that it cost to build them. There problem solved, not to mention the other points in the article unfair advantage being a big one. The peninsula needs all the help it can get in attracting work even if it means helping a billion dollar corp provide that work.

  • Hebron GBS to be built
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    To nj, with the Hebron deal about to be announced any day do you really think its a coincidence Bull Arm are looking for these towers?

  • nj
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Just to clarify my comments I in no way agree that Kiewit should just keep the towers scott free but suggested they purchase them from the province at cost (2 mil) or as Joe suggested pay to have new ones constructed at Bull Arm. At least that would provide some much needed work for the people in the area. Hebron GBS to be built at Bull Arm???? no I am not naive enough to think that it's just wishful thinking by Bull Arm. I am sure the ink has already dried on that one.

  • Henry
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    As I posted on the Southern Gazette's site, this really is ridiculous... How can a town council justify the hijacking of infrastructure that is not theirs to keep. The towers belong to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador... NOT the private company of Kiewit and Sons. If Kiewit wants to keep the towers (or Marystown for that matter) ante up the 2 million it costs to build the towers.

    It does not matter how much added infrastructure Kiewit added, so that is a moot point. You can add all you want to an apartment but that doesn't mean you get to keep the house. Take it off before you send it back if that is the case. If that is not possible, then it should have been known when those expenses were added that they would not be recouped when the deal was over.

    I certainly want to see the Marystown yard succeed, and the peninsula in general. I am from the area and know how much the yard means to the economy on the peninsula. However, succeeding should not be happening at the expense of the rest of the people of the province and at the benefit of this private company. Peter Kiewit needs to abide by the rules any other company would, and council should be mature enough to recognize that.

    Mrs. Mitchell should be ashamed of herself for suggesting they keep something they have not bought. I understand her wanting to ensure the best for the people of the region, but at least do it within the realm of reason. And making the argument over the cost to ship the towers back is silly as well. Given the uproar over the $1200 constituency allowance, most people would likely find the $200,000 difference in cost for building new towers at Bull Arm versus shipping back the original significant.

    Fight all you want, but unless you are fighting to have Kiewit BUY what they want to OWN, then it will likely be a losing battle... and rightly so! Why everyone thinks the only people to fight when a fight needs to happen is government is beyond me.... How about you lobby this company to own their own equipment for future security in project bids.

  • Jim
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    For a town that is looking at hopefully getting a multi billion dollar federal contract, I think your not giving any department much reason to trust in you. These towers were lent to Kiewit in good faith by the province and now you don't want to give them back. I for one don't believe that we should be GIVING FREE EQUIPMENT to a multi billion dollar company. I think its time to look at how outside departments will look at this move. Do you want potential customers to think they can't trust this town and company with your word, I don't think so.