Emera: Work on $1.5bn Maritime Link project in Canada to pick up in the spring

With much of the construction activities on the Maritime Link HVDC project halted during winter, work is expected to pick up in the spring, including horizontal directional drilling for the subsea cable portion, Emera Inc., subsidiary Emera Newfoundland & Labrador Holdings Inc. (Emera NL) said in a 1Q16 update on the $1.5bn project.

In late December 2015, Emera NL awarded Direct Horizontal Drilling the landfall drilling and casing installation contract, and the drilling company is scheduled to begin drilling in early 2Q16 at Cape Ray, Newfoundland, and in early 3Q16 at Point Aconi, Nova Scotia, Emera NL said.

Drilling activity is expected to last 45 to 75 days, with operations going on 24 hours a day, depending on drilling conditions, Emera NL said.

The first pole for the overland portion of the transmission line was installed last fall. Plans call for more than 2,500 wooden poles and 650 steel structures to be positioned across Nova Scotia and the island of Newfoundland, Emera NL added. Transmission line construction contractor Abengoa and subcontractor PowerTel are working on that portion of the project, with tree clearing along the right of way expected to be completed in early spring.

The Maritime Link project includes a 185-mile, 230-kV overhead transmission line from Granite Canal to Bottom Brook to Cape Ray on the Island of Newfoundland, transitions to a 110-mile, 200-kV HVDC subsea cable through the Cabot Strait, and transitions back to 230-kV overhead lines at Point Aconi, Nova Scotia. The line then will extend another 31 miles from Point Aconi to terminate at Woodbine, Nova Scotia.

The project is scheduled to be in service in late 2017, allowing Nova Scotia to import hydropower from the Muskrat Falls generating station in Labrador, which is being developed by Nalcor Energy as part of the Lower Churchill Project.

ABB in 2014 was awarded a contract to construct two converter stations for the HVDC link, two 230-kV alternating current (AC) substations in Newfoundland, and one 345-kV AC substation in Nova Scotia.

ABB is currently focusing on preparing the sites for the installation of the converter station equipment in Woodbine and Bottom Brook, ABB said in a March 15 statement. Work on the converter stations is expected to start in mid-2016, ABB said, adding that it opened a new office in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to support its work in the Atlantic Canada region.

The Halifax office will provide engineering and project management services for ABB’s participation in the Maritime Link project, the company said.

“We are continuing to grow our presence in the region and look forward to contributing to providing growth and employment opportunities” in the area, ABB President and CEO Nathalie Pilon said in the statement.

During construction of the Maritime Link project, “we will be working with unions and our subcontractors to maximize employment opportunities within traditionally underrepresented groups, such as women, Aboriginal Peoples” and individuals with disabilities, Pilon said.

ABB has awarded contracts to supplier companies from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador related to its portion of work on the project through an open and fair procurement process, the company said.