Ca­ble ship for Mar­itime Link docks in Syd­ney.

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY GREG MCNEIL

A lengthy 170 kilo­me­tres of ca­ble de­signed to ex­change power be­tween prov­inces and across an ocean is now spool­ing at a dock in Syd­ney har­bour.

Over the next few weeks it will slowly be un­coiled across the Cabot Strait to com­plete North Amer­ica’s long­est sub­sea elec­tric­ity con­nec­tion, known as the Mar­itime Link.

The engi­neer­ing feat is be­ing per­formed by the crew of the Nor­we­gian ship CS Nex­ans Sk­ager­rak and is ac­tu­ally the sec­ond of two ca­bles un­coiled in re­cent weeks.

“Re­ally, all these op­er­a­tors work in tan­dem. They have to mas­ter the turntable as well as the pulling ves­sel, as well as the ship ves­sel,” said Rory Cashin, a project man­ager for Emera and mem­ber of the sub­sea ca­ble in­stal­la­tion team.

“Any mis­match at all could be dis­as­trous and could cause de­lays. Thank­fully we have a fan­tas­tic crew, fan­tas­tic op­er­a­tors and peo­ple with a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence lay­ing ca­bles.”

So far a full 120 km of the four-inch wide ca­ble has been spooled from a barge sit­ting ad­ja­cent to the Sk­ager­rak at a rate of 10 me­tres per minute.

An­other 50 km will slowly be inched onto the ves­sel to bring the to­tal weight of the link to 5,500 tonnes.

Once loaded, the ca­ble will travel out through a load­ing arm on the ship, through the back of the ves­sel and into the wa­ter. All the while it will be watched via re­motely op­er­ated un­der­wa­ter ve­hi­cles.

While lay­ing the first ca­ble on the ocean floor, crews en­coun­tered and solved some uniquely Cape Bre­ton prob­lems.

Be­cause the lo­cal spring has been quite cold, the ca­ble has had to be heated to main­tain a min­i­mum tem­per­a­ture and a smooth un­spool­ing process.

“It needs a min­i­mum (5 C) tem­per­a­ture or else it will have to stop op­er­a­tions for a pe­riod of time, so we have been in­ten­sively pour­ing hot wa­ter and heat­ing the ca­bles just to get that tem­per­a­ture,” said Cashin.

“It’s a prob­lem we are used to here in At­lantic Canada but it’s pretty bad when even the Nor­we­gians are com­plain­ing about how cold it is for May.”

De­spite the cold, he said the project is on sched­ule.

“It is cer­tainly not easy. It

is highly tech­ni­cal stuff, all hap­pen­ing here in At­lantic Canada. I think we are up to the chal­lenge and show­ing our true colours.”

Be­sides the two ca­bles on the ocean floor, the Mar­itime Link in­volves the con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tion of a new 500-megawatt high-volt­age di­rect cur­rent line, as well as a high-volt­age al­ter­nat­ing cur­rent trans­mis­sion line and as­so­ci­ated in­fra­struc­ture, be­tween New­found­land and Labrador and Nova Sco­tia.

Rick Janega, a Syd­ney na­tive who is pres­i­dent and CEO of Emera New­found­land and Labrador, was on site when the Sk­ager­rak first landed in Syd­ney to be­gin lay­ing the first ca­ble.

He was back on Fri­day to ob­serve spool­ing of the sec­ond ca­ble as many years of work on the link are get­ting

closer to con­clu­sion.

“It’s a project that’s aimed at col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween New­found­land and Labrador and Nova Sco­tia and try­ing to re­duce car­bon emis­sions and im­prove elec­tri­cal in­ter­con­nec­tion be­tween the prov­inces,” Janega said.

“It’s quite ex­cit­ing for us to be at this stage where we now

have one ca­ble in the wa­ter, the sec­ond ready to go. In the month of June it will be in the wa­ter and form the last of the two elec­tri­cal lines con­nect­ing the prov­ince.”

Tri­als of the con­nec­tion are set to be­gin in Septem­ber and the two util­i­ties will take pos­ses­sion of the link by the end of the year.

“The first thing we will do is go into a trial op­er­a­tion where the two util­i­ties will un­der­stand how the in­ter­con­nec­tion be­tween the two prov­inces ac­tu­ally works and the sys­tems be­have.”

The link project is on time and within its ap­proved bud­get of $1.52-$1.8 bil­lion, he said.

Dur­ing peak con­struc­tion phases, the project had been em­ploy­ing about 1,000 peo­ple. To­day, those num­bers fluc­tu­ate be­tween 600-1,000, in­clud­ing about 275-300 peo­ple now string­ing the con­duc­tor for the link at the Wood­bine site out­side of Syd­ney.


Rick Janega, pres­i­dent and CEO of Emera New­found­land and Labrador, is shown with Rune Lan­der, an off­shore man­ager on-board the CS Nex­ans Sk­ager­rak. The Sk­ager­rak is lay­ing sub­sea ca­bles for Emera.


The CS Nex­ans Sk­ager­rak is shown docked in Syd­ney har­bour. The ship is lay­ing sub­sea ca­bles for Emera.


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