Robin A. Grant  

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Oil and Gas: Newfoundland and Labrador's Supporting Cast
Atlantic Business Magazine

North Atlantic Refining

Known for its top quality, low sulphur fuels, North Atlantic Refining is Newfoundland and Labrador's only oil refinery, and employs a solid workforce of 700 highly skilled and dedicated Newfoundlanders. Boasting some of the cleanest fuels on the market today, North Atlantic contributes more than $100 million to the province's economy annually, and exports nearly one billion dollars in top quality fuels to 13 countries all around the world each year. Even the residents of Newfoundland are reaping the benefits of having some of the cleanest fuels in the world refined and marketed right here at home.

"North Atlantic is a major player in the Newfoundland oil industry," said Gloria Warren Slade, communications co-ordinator for North Atlantic. "Our province's position in the industry is growing stronger every day, and we are growing right along with it." North Atlantic is continuously upgrading its facility and its equipment, making their refinery more efficient in order to ensure a bright future for their employees. "Every hour of every day, our environment department keeps a close eye on our operation to ensure there is minimal impact on the air, vegetation, and water in the refinery area," said Warren-Slade. "We live and work here in Newfoundland and we strive to protect our people and our planet." In keeping with their commitment to adhere to the highest environmental standards, North Atlantic has managed to cut sulphur dioxide emissions by 75 percent over the last four years.

Meanwhile, North Atlantic is one of the province's top employers. The refinery contributes $40 million in wages to the province's economy each year. North Atlantic also has a strong commitment to the community. Each year, the refinery donates a quarter of a million dollars to various community projects and events. For example, North Atlantic offers a $50,000 scholarship program to students across the province annually.

And Warren-Slade said the refinery's location allows the facility superior shipping and marketing flexibility. "Located on Newfoundland's southeast coast approximately 130 kilometers from St. John's, North Atlantic Refining's 105,000 bpd refinery is closer to international sources of crude in the North Sea, West Africa, and the Arabian Gulf, than any other refinery in North America," said Warren-Slade. With over 7.2 million barrels of crude and product storage, and a deep water dock capable of receiving ships up to 300,000 dwt, North Atlantic Refining has significant operating and shipping flexibility to market some of the cleanest fuels in the world, to anywhere in the world.

The Marine Institute

The Offshore Safety and Survival Centre (OSSC) at the Marine Institute was originally built in 1986 to provide safety and emergency response training to the marine industry. In 1992 the OSSC was expanded to enable the Centre to deliver training to Newfoundland's new offshore oil industry. The training provided includes both classroom instruction and practical exercises in simulated survival and emergency response situations.

The OSSC offers training in areas of survival in cold water situations, marine emergency duties, fast rescue craft operation, helicopter underwater escape techniques, lifeboat coxswain training and firefighting. A number of standard courses are available. A key course is the five-day Basic Survival Training (BST) course. The course includes simulated helicopter ditching, operation of self-contained breathing apparatus, and survival at sea. The Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (CNOPB) requires that personnel successfully complete this course prior to flying to offshore oil installations. Another important course is the five-day Offshore Fire Team (OFT) course. Through intense team-based practical training, this course trains offshore personnel how to deal with dangerous gas leaks, combat fire on offshore oil rigs, and how to effectively react to a helicopter crash. Courses may also be developed or customised to meet specific industry needs.

The Offshore Safety and Survival Centre is also active in research aimed at improving safety and survival in cold ocean environments. The OSSC main campus, which includes a large fire field and a survival tank. is located in Foxtrap, Conception Bay South. In addition there is a new facility located in St. John's harbour for lifeboat, fast rescue craft and sea survival training. Clientele include government, seafarers, offshore oil workers, marine fire fighting brigades, refinery operators, and aircrews.

Newfoundland Transshipment Limited

By 1998, a clamouring demand for a transshipment facility in Newfoundland became apparent. With projects like the Terra Nova oilfield project set to begin in the new millennium, and the success of the Hibernia oilfield project already underway, a need arose for a state-of-the-art transshipment facility close to the Newfoundland offshore production sites.

On October 1, 1998, Newfoundland Transshipment Limited (NTL), a state-of-the-art transshipment facility, became operational in response to that need. The facility is located approximately 350 miles from the Hibernia oilfield, in Whiffen Head, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. Newfoundland Transshipment enables its customers to access markets beyond the direct range of the shuttle tankers.

From January 1999 to October 2000, Newfoundland Transshipment had a significant growth spurt: from one to two berths, and from three to five crude oil storage tanks.

In addition to greater market range, Newfoundland Transshipment customers can tailor cargo sizes to fit individual purchaser needs and support Grand Banks offshore oil production with fewer shuttle tankers. Newfoundland Transshipment Limited is cost competitive with other greenfield transshipment facilities worldwide and can expand to meet the needs of existing and future customers.

Friede Goldman Newfoundland Limited

Friede Goldman Newfoundland, Ltd., is situated in Mortier Bay on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, strategically close to Canada's East Coast oil and gas fields. This deep-water port, is ice-free year round. Friede Goldman Newfoundland, Ltd., specialises in a broad spectrum of marine industry needs, including engineering, procurement and commissioning services offshore, heavy industrial fabrication, shipbuilding and ship repair.

In 1998, FGI acquired the shipyard facility at Marystown and the purpose-built offshore fabrication facility at Cow head. In November 1999, Friede Goldman International and the Halter Marine Group merged, forming Friede Goldman Halter (FGH). Although the shipyard facility at Marystown is over three decades old, marketing services manager Sadie Popovitch-Penny said the company is committed to investing in the shipyard and indeed, all its facilities, to ensure their viability over time. "The Cow Head Fabrication Facility remains state-of-the-art for its application to the offshore industry," said Popovitch-Penny. "New equipment has been added, whenever necessary, to meet any project requirements, and existing equipment has been maintained or upgraded whenever necessary."

Popovitch-Penny said the readiness of such an infrastructure, backed up by a highly skilled workforce, grants FGH a competitive edge on a grand scale. "The skill of our workers combined with our availability as a resource assures FGH a prominent place among the major players, not only in the offshore oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, but worldwide." Today, FGH has the greatest offshore fabrication capacity of any company in the Western Hemisphere, with facilities in Canada, the US, and Europe, and partnerships worldwide.

Newfoundland Ocean Industries Association

The Newfoundland Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) was established in 1977 by a small group of forward-looking Newfoundland-based business people. Since then, the organization has grown to become a body of some 450 member companies and organizations engaged in East Coast Canada's oil and gas industry. Today, 80 per cent of NOIA's members are Atlantic Canadian small and medium sized enterprises (SME's), but membership also encompasses major global service providers and international pretroleum companies.

The members of NOIA are dedicated to facilitating the participation in oil and gas industries and promote development of East Coast Canada's hydrocarbon resources. NOIA positions itself as a reliable information resource on the current state of the oil and gas industry in Canada's East Coast region by identifying business opportunities within the region and around the petroleum-producing world, and providing marketing and networking environments. NOIA is also engaged in petroleum industry research. Using its experience and information base, NOIA regularly presents briefing papers, position statements and policies to government and industry bodies, as well as the general public at large. Other services provided by NOIA include business luncheons, seminars and conferences, as well as informative industry publications in bulletin, newsletter, report and website formats.

"Among NOIA's priorities for 2001 are SME development and support, promotion of East Coast infrastructure enhancement and facilitating a stronger industry human resource base," said spokesperson Leslie Galway. "We also plan to continue encouraging a pace of petroleum development that will sustain our increasingly skilled and competitive support community."

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Memorial University of Newfoundland has the largest co-operative education program in Atlantic Canada. Memorial University is the only university in Newfoundland and the largest university in Eastern Canada with an annual enrollment of nearly 16,000 full and part-time students.

According to spokesperson and manager of Co-operative Education Services Center, Christine Webb, Memorial's co-operative education programs have much to offer the offshore oil and gas industry. "With more than 30 years experience and over 20,000 work term solutions, the co-op team can introduce employers to our co-op students--a diversely talented and highly motivated human resource base," said Webb. The co-operative education program began with the faculty of engineering more than 30 years ago.

Today, Memorial's Co-op Programs are the largest in Atlantic Canada and among the four largest university co-operative education programs in Canada. Total annual enrolment in Memorial's co-op programs is typically about 2000 undergraduates and about 15 graduate students; approximately 650 students are available for work each semester.

"Because of the way the work terms are formatted to alternate throughout the course of the co-op programs, our students have the opportunity to transfer knowledge, skills and experience between work and classroom settings," said Webb. "Employers benefit from the talents, solutions and fresh ideas that Memorial's co-op students have to offer."

Each term, a number of co-op students accept work placements with companies whose work is related to the exploration, development, production, and management of offshore oil and gas.

Students have had placements in all Canadian Provinces and in countries all over the world, including the US, France, Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

"Approximately 100 business and engineering students obtain job placements each year with employers who are involved with the management and development of this province's offshore resources," said Webb.

Co-op students can undertake a wide range of assignments and are available from the following programs: engineering, business physical educaton, recreation, kinesiology, computer science (internship), diploma in information technology, computational science (M.Sc.) and applied social psychology (M.ASP).

Bull Arm Fabrication and Construction Site

The Bull Arm Fabrication and Construction Site, located 130 kilometers west of St. John's, Newfoundland, in Trinity Bay was designed for the Hibernia Project and completed by 1994, at a cost of $470 million. The site is one of North America's premier oil/gas related industrial sites and it's contribution to the Newfoundland economy has not ended with the completion of the Hibernia Platform. The Bull Arm advantages are: 22,000 square metres of flexible shop space, 35,000 square metres of office/support infrastructure, abundant marine facilities, steel fabrication and concrete construction capabilities, 200 metre diameter drydock, a 172 metre FPSO hook up quay, 150 metre water depth near shore and a skilled, available workforce which peaked at 6,000 during the Hibernia Project. This highly qualified labour force includes all trades and technical skills necessary to complete major projects in a timely and cost-effective basis. The quality of work undertaken at Bull Arm is considered by fabrication experts to be second to none.

The Bull Arm Fabrication and Construction Site is administered by the Bull Arm Site Corporation (BASC). The Bull Arm Site Corporations's main mandate is to market the 1,600 hectare fully developed, world class, heavy industrial site, which is now available for lease or purchase for projects worldwide. On March 5, 1998, PCL entered into a lease agreement with the BASC for Terra Nova related work worth about $100 million. The BASC is aggressively pursuing follow-on projects for the site, particularly for the period commencing after completion of Terra Nova Project work. Gordon Gosse, former president and CEO of the BASC, observed, "The foundation is being laid at Bull Arm to transform the site into a truly internationally competitive facility."

St. John's Dockyard or NEWDOCK

St. John's Dockyard Limited, or NEWDOCK, assumed operations of the facilities and resources of Newfoundland Dockyard Corporation in April, 1997, after the Canadian Government divested itself from the former shipyard.

NEWDOCK is located on an 18.5 acre site on the west end of St. John's harbour. Although NEWDOCK has an extensive history of servicing and repairing ships, the company has recently gained experience in offshore fabrication. Specifically, they fabricated sub-sea components for the Terra Nova Development Project and international offshore clients. They are currently fabricating sub-sea components for clients in the Gulf of Mexico. The company plans to build on that expertise in the future as they continue servicing and repairing ships and bidding on new ventures for other offshore contracts. Using highly-skilled local labour as well as utilizing top quality materials and sub-contractors are integral elements of NEWDOCK's long-term plan.

NEWDOCK offers offshore clients a professional product management team and a skilled workforce. NEWDOCK facilities consists of a 4,000 ton marine lift, 174 metre graving dock, fabrication and sub sea test facilities, machine shops, CNC boring mill, CNC lathe, exotic welding, mobile and over head craneage, and five acres of laydown area.

St. John's Port Authority

In 1999 under the new Canada Marine Act, the Port changed its name from St. John's Port Corporation to the St. John's Port Authority, allowing the Port more autonomy and enabling a quicker response to market needs.

Having begun as a fishing port five centuries ago, the port of St. John's continues as the largest fishing port in Newfoundland and Labrador. Nevertheless, the port has evolved--from a port where vessels were once on and off loaded by hand, to one of the primary oil and gas supply and service centers on the East Coast today.

Sean Hanrahan, president and CEO of the St. John's Port Authority, says that commercial activity soared to unprecedented levels in the Port of St. John's during the year 2000. "More than 1.3 million metric tonnes of cargo moved through the Port last year," said Hanrahan. "This represented an increase of 10 per cent over the previous year's incredible performance, and stands as a new record." Liquid bulk, components of which include marine diesel, mud oil, and pot water, remain the single largest contributor to the total cargo at St. John's Port, at more than 45 per cent.

In response to emerging demands from the industry, the Port of St. John's has undertaken an exceptional three-year plan development that began in 2000. The initiative involves the redevelopment of Pier 17, located at the northeast end of the port, as a multipurpose marine service facility at a cost of approximately $11 million. Once completed in 2002, the pier will feature the next generation in berthing technology. It will include utilidor trenches, leading-edge fluid management systems, heavy lift capabilities, comprehensive bunkering, and a wide-open design, allowing for the manoeuvring of all types of cargo. The Port of St. John's has also refurbished the dolphin trestles at Pier 18 which facilitate the transfer of products between vessels and their fluids' storage facilities.

"We are committed to our support role for the offshore industry," said Sean Hanrahan, president and CEO. "That's why we are rebuilding Pier 17 as a state-of-the-art facility. We are fostering an entrepreneurial approach to growth, anticipating the needs of the burgeoning industry, and striving to be 'the berth' for the offshore oil and gas industry."

Committed to maintaining state-of-the-art Port facilities, the Port has invested in a five-year works strategy valued at over $18 million. Confident in the future of the Port, St. John's Port Authority's private partners have also invested over $40 million in the development of the port in recent years.