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MYTH: Nalcor Energy did all engineering and procurement work

The Lower Churchill Project (Muskrat Falls) office on Torbay Road in St. John's, as seen in 2012.
The Lower Churchill Project (Muskrat Falls) office on Torbay Road in St. John's, as seen in 2012. - SaltWire Network

“There were several (project) departments that had in fact transitioned into integrated teams..." -Derek Owen, RDO Consulting

FACT: SNC-Lavalin was contracted for detailed Muskrat Falls engineering and procurement.

Nalcor Energy hired many contractors throughout the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. SNC-Lavalin is one, and the company has played an important role.

In 2010, Nalcor issued a letter of intent to award a contract to SNC-Lavalin to provide engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services. In early 2011, the contract was finalized and awarded. It covered most of the Muskrat Falls project, although not the undersea cables for the transmission link between Labrador and the island.

Two employees of SNC-Lavalin — Paul Lemay and Jean-Daniel Tremblay — are scheduled as witnesses at the end of October for the first phase of the ongoing Muskrat Falls Inquiry, and will discuss the company’s work.

To date, testimony has touched on the relationship between the contractor and Nalcor Energy as the project progressed.

It has also included reference to SNC-Lavalin’s national and international ethical and legal concerns beginning in 2012. SNC-Lavalin representatives, Nalcor Energy leadership, and leadership in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have all said those issues arising nationally and internationally did not negatively affected the development at Muskrat Falls.

RELATED STORIES

Nalcor receives call after SNC-Lavalin CEO steps down (March 2012)

SNC-Lavalin’s work on Lower Churchill endorsed (October 2012)

Sanction needed for Muskrat oversight (November 2012)

SNC-Lavalin’s global scandal dogs Nalcor (June 2013)

SNC-Lavalin no risk to Muskrat Falls: Nalcor (October 2014)

SNC-Lavalin employees made up a large portion of the people working at a project office on Torbay Road in St. John’s, sometimes referred to as the project’s SNC-Lavalin office. In October 2012, prior to sanctioning, The Telegram reported there were about 350 people at the Torbay Road office, 250 of them being SNC-Lavalin employees and about 100 Nalcor Energy and other contractor employees. The numbers changed as the project progressed.

In a review filed that summer, it was noted there was a high level of collaboration between SNC-Lavalin’s Muskrat Falls project team and the Nalcor Energy project team. By the fall of 2012, it was noted that the project had moved toward an “integrated management team,” with SNC-Lavalin employees working side by side with Nalcor Energy.

While on the stand at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry on Oct. 17, 2018, discussing the Independent Project Review (IPR) team report from 2012, RDO Consulting president Derek Owen said the integrated team was coming together at the time of his review. “There were several departments that had in fact transitioned into integrated teams and this was done gradually … such that the project was benefitting from the collective resources,” he said.

He attributed the integration pre-sanctioning in part to staffing issues encountered early on by SNC-Lavalin for some roles. But the changing relationship is expected to be a subject of questioning for later inquiry witnesses.

One, well-known, public point of contention related to the project between SNC-Lavalin, Nalcor Energy and the provincial government is the 2013 risk assessment report. In June 2017, the report — having come into the hands of then-Nalcor Energy president and CEO Stan Marshall and then passed on to Premier Dwight Ball — was raised publicly by Ball, who had it posted to the provincial Natural Resources website. The premier said it was his first look at the report.

Former Nalcor Energy president and CEO Ed Martin said the same, while a spokesman for SNC-Lavalin told The Telegram the company had “attempted to hand it over to Nalcor” — a puzzling comment that has yet to be explained.

MORE RELATED STORIES

SNC-Lavalin report revealed Muskrat Falls risks: premier (2017)

Ball, Martin spar over 2013 risk assessment report (2017)


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