Local dismantling of Deep Panuke platform will take two years

·3 min read

SHEET HARBOUR – The Deep Panuke Offshore Gas platform, put into production in 2013 and decommissioned in 2018, is being dismantled in Sheet Harbour by RJ MacIsaac Construction Ltd. – a project that will take approximately two years to complete.

The platform is owned by Single Buoy Moorings (SBM).

Boyd MacIsaac, owner of RJ MacIsaac Construction Ltd., told The Journal, via email, the project starts with the removal of all hazardous materials – which will be carried out with the assistance of licensed abatement contractors.

“We will then begin manual disassembly of the platform. Methods will include cold cutting with excavator based hydraulic shears, gas powered disc saws, diamond wire saws and – when necessary – torches,” he said.

The company has 20 employees on site, with five supporting the office. It will expand to between 30 and 40, when dismantling begins. The priority, MacIsaac said, is to hire local people. There are 10 local employees, while the other 15 are long-term employees of the company.

MacIsaac said significant site prep work was necessary before Deep Panuke was towed to the Sheet Harbour port in December.

“Part of our authorization by DFO to construct a ship recycling yard at Sheet Harbour required the installation of a silt curtain to prevent the release of excessive silt into the harbour – as elevated turbidity can be harmful to aquatic life. This silt curtain will remain deployed for the duration of infilling activities and yard construction.

“In addition, we install an oil boom surrounding the work. Although not mandatory, this is an added feature by RJMI which will prevent the spread of a hydrocarbon in the unlikely event of an accidental spill from machinery being used during the infilling process. The ship recycling process will have no effect on the water quality, as mentioned above, hazardous materials are identified and removed prior to the dismantlement process,” he explained.

The company does not store hazardous materials onsite and contracts specialized abatement contractors to remove hazardous materials from the unit directly to their licensed facility for disposal as quickly as possible.

“This reduces the chance of a spill or release of hazardous materials. When setting up a new facility, RJMI conducts environmental baseline monitoring. Strum Consulting, a highly respected and experienced environmental consulting firm, has already completed a Phase 1 Environmental study. They have also been hired to set up and monitor a Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment.”

This project is significant, as the first such dismantling project in Canada, and specifically Nova Scotia. MacIsaac’s client – SBM – owned and operated the platform under a lease agreement to Encana.

“There are,” he said, “a variety of metals on the platform, and [those] will be sold to a licensed scrap dealer. Anything not sold is recycled.

“This project was a huge undertaking and they are usually sent overseas to be dismantled. The fact that it is being done here is huge for the province,” said MacIsaac.

“It required significant financial risk to be successful – which RJMI bore on its own. It was originally destined to be dismantled at an existing facility in the U.K. that had a proven history in oil and gas dismantlement.”

Instilling confidence in SBM that RJMI was capable of dismantling the platform to their standard was a challenge, MacIsaac said. The company worked hard to open a new facility and obtain regulatory approvals under tight timelines.

“We worked for over a year on these challenges prior to signing a contract with SBM. We are extremely pleased SBM selected RJMI for the job. This will be a significant boost to the Port of Sheet Harbour and Nova Scotia overall,” MacIsaac stated.

There are spinoff benefits for the community of Sheet Harbour and area.

“The company and its employees utilize all services of the town from groceries to motels to restaurants to hardware etc. We have a strong ‘support local’ motto. We feel the port and town will benefit significantly from our presence,” concluded MacIsaac.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal