Containers a home away from home for drilling workers
A PROJECT BY electricity lines and generation company Top Energy to expand Northland’s Ngawha Geothermal Power Station – which will take its capacity from 25 megawatts to 53megawatts, enough to power the Far North region – meant a bed demand for almost 50 workers.
Introducing Royal Wolf’s largest New Zealand accommodation project to date – 29 shipping containers with 19 for accommodation and a container hub including a 40-foot commercial kitchen, a laundry and ablutions unit, and a number of container offices.
The specially modified container accommodation has been used previously in Australia’s mining camps. With an ensuite, kitchenette, work station, TV, and air conditioning the rooms have the aesthetic of a home but with the portability and security of a container.
Project Manager Gunnlaugur Már Sigurdsson from Iceland Drilling, the Icelandic company doing the drilling – two working production wells and two reinjection wells – says his company has used container accommodation in other parts of the world and it is ideal for housing workers on site.
“The real beauty of this style of accommodation is that while its temporary, it’s strong, can withstand the elements and the heavy-duty nature of a site like this. But it’s also homely and comfortable. A home away from home is really important when you’re running an operation that is running 24/ 7,” he says.
Royal Wolf opened a branch in Whangarei two years ago to meet growing demand for container solutions in the region with additional containers needing to be brought in from Auckland and the South Island for the Ngawha project.
Paul Creighton, Royal Wolf Executive General Manager, says the mining camp-turned-motel style containers are proven in this sort of camp environment after being used in large scale mining operations in Australia.
“The Ngawha expansion is a major project for the Far North and although it is subtle, the containers play an important part in ensuring the project can run efficiently,” says Creighton.
The 40-foot modified containers are 3m wide and the first of their kind in New Zealand with traditional containers only 2.4m wide.
The extra width means three spacious rooms can fit inside one container.
“Because they are containerised, the accommodation can also be stacked to create a multistorey block which saves on space if the site is restricted. But the real beauty of this style of accommodation is that when demand eases, or another project gets up and running, the containers are portable, so they can be picked up and either taken away or moved to another location.”