Union Trouble Delays Maritimes' Lateral
Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline officials predict there could
be a service delay and a rate increase on its 164,000 MMBtu/d Saint
John lateral because clearing work has been stopped illegally by
union workers. Work was scheduled to begin last Monday on the
project, but union laborers physically prevented clearing by HEF
Industries Ltd., the hired excavation/clearing contractor, which
uses non-union labor.
"We're seeking legal advice to see how we can go about stopping
this interference," Maritimes Spokeswoman Krista Jenkins said last
Tuesday. "The contractor, HEF Industries, has its equipment and
people in a construction yard and the unions won't let them move
any equipment out to the right-of-way. Because the unions aren't
involved with the contractor, it is illegal for them to be stopping
our work. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are there, but I don't
believe there are very many and there are about 200 [union workers]
there. Obviously, safety is the most important thing for everyone.
We don't want to create an incident with this." She said the
pipeline has met with union leaders "numerous times" but has been
unable to come to an agreement.
"The clearing represents only about 3% of our contract budget,"
she noted, adding that the clearing contractor will use a non-union
work force numbering about 70. "The majority of the work is
pipeline construction, which represents about 80% of the budget,
and all that work will be done by union contractors [employing
about 400 union workers]. So the ironic thing is that unions are
holding up the clearing, which could ultimately impact the work
that is to be done by union contractors.
"Our biggest concern right now is that this could delay the
project in bringing gas to Saint John and surrounding areas and
could impact the overall cost of the project, raising the tolls."
The $60 million lateral is designed to deliver gas produced by
the Sable Offshore Energy Project to domestic customers in New
Brunswick. The proposed 16-inch, 63-mile line will transport gas
from Maritimes' mainline near Big Kedron Lake to the City of Saint
John. About 102,000 MMBtu/d of capacity on the lateral is under
contract with New Brunswick Power, Irving Oil and JD Irving.
Another 62,000 MMBtu/d has been set aside to serve the new local
distribution company being formed by Enbridge.
Jenkins said Maritimes stands by its decision to use HEF
Industries for the clearing work. She said the pipeline is in the
process of examining its legal options. The clearing contractor was
selected through a fair and open tender process, she added.
Meanwhile, the Point Tupper lateral remains under close NEB
scrutiny following several pipeline failures during testing at the
beginning of the year. The company still has not been given
authorization to open Point Tupper or to assume ownership of the
lateral from the Sable Offshore Energy Project.
Construction is going smoothly on the Halifax lateral. The
project is on schedule to me in service in November. The Halifax
lateral initially will transport 61,600 MMBtu/d to Nova Scotia
Power and other customers in Nova Scotia and will have another
62,400 MMBtu/d of capacity for future markets, including the LDC
being developed by Sempra Gas Atlantic.
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