It has been more than three months since a grand to-do at the Star of the Sea Hall in Placentia, where then premier Kathy Dunderdale signed an updated benefits agreement for the province for the West White Rose offshore oil development.
According to Richard Pratt, vice-president for Atlantic region developments with Husky Energy, the work on project infrastructure has progressed steadily since, including the advancement of engineering for the concrete gravity structure (CGS) and the qualifying of contractors for key construction packages.
Digging out began in late 2013, for what will become a reusable graving dock space at Argentia — the former naval base turned industrial centre within the Town of Placentia’s borders.
Earthmoving was started under a contract let to Dexter Construction, despite the fact the West White Rose project has yet to be officially sanctioned.
Sanctioning, a final “go or no” decision, is expected in the third quarter of 2014.
“We’re going early with some things because if we wait until we sanction, what most people call sanction, full approval of the project, then it creates some schedule issues for us, so we’re going early,” Pratt said.
A contract for the living quarters for the offshore platform is expected to be awarded before sanctioning, he said.
“We’re very bullish on the project, or we wouldn’t be going early — ‘we’ being Husky, Suncor and Nalcor. We’re very confident on the project moving ahead, so we’re willing to take that risk to go ahead and do that,” he said.
The largest construction contracts are for the concrete base of the new offshore platform and, separately, the bulk of the topsides.
Both of those contracts will be tied to the sanction decision by the oil companies.
Meanwhile, the project partners have started reaching out to potential sub-contractors from the local supply and service community.
At the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s Wednesday morning, about 300 people representing these companies came out to an information session, including a project update from Pratt.
The session was closed to reporters, but The Telegram spoke with Pratt after the event.
“The objective here was to get the supply community here, in the room, and let them understand more about what we’re doing to ensure that they feel like they have proper awareness of our planning, such that they can engage either with us, or with some of our subcontractors,” he said.
Detailed procurement information is being offered at the project website (http://wrep.huskyenergy.com).
Plans for West White Rose, an amended development plan application, remains with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB). The Board will have to sign off on those plans before the project moves beyond the early works at Argentia.
If construction proceeds as planned, it will provide a full $2.25 million for the Town of Placentia in the form of permits and grants in lieu of taxes through 2017, along with the construction jobs.
Long-term, once the CGS is towed out and placed at the White Rose field, the offshore will have an added 250 long-term jobs, according to numbers provided at the October signing of the province’s benefits agreement.
West White Rose is expected to produce about 115 million barrels of oil, providing $3 billion to Newfoundland and Labrador in the form of royalties, return on equity and corporate taxes.