Carbon capture project moving right along

Those who have been busy putting the SaskPower $1.24 billion carbon capture unit together south of the city these past few months are thankful for the warm winter weather. The warmer conditions have allowed them to make up most of time that was lost this past spring and summer when untimely floods prevented them from going full-out on the construction site.

"The pace has been good, we've been blessed with unseasonably warm weather. Our outlook for spring is not so bad at all," said Gary Cooper, construction manager for SNC-Lavalin, lead contractor for the project at Boundary Dam Power Station.

"We have between 75 and 100 people on site including administration and tradespeople and we'll be increasing that number as we close the building and move inside," Cooper said.

"The high bay, about 75 feet, might be closed in as early as this week," he added. The high bay contains the 250-ton stripper vessel that was moved into position on Jan. 7.

The low bay, containing the acidizer unit, could be enclosed by the second or third week of March.

"The subcontracting work and the skilled trades people have not been a problem. We've been able to get the people we need when we needed them," Cooper said.

"Everything is going well and overall I would say we're about 30 to 35 per cent along on the entire project."

A significant increase in the construction personnel will be noticeable by April, he said, and the peak employment activity will probably be witnessed throughout the summer and into the fall season with between 200 and 300 workers on site.

"But those will be employees contracted by SNC-Lavalin only," said Cooper.

A bit of transition work will have begun for SaskPower by then and Bob Turczyn, supervisor for construction for the Crown corporation, said he'll have about 22 additional inspectors and engineers doing some preliminary work this summer on the upcoming tie-in that will see the stripper unit connected to Boundary Dam's No. 3 generating unit later on in the program.

"We'll be working with them hand-in-hand and we'll level off our construction to suit the needs of both parties so that the project can be co-ordinated on the SaskPower side of things," Cooper said.

"Safety on-site has been very good; in fact, I would say it has been excellent. That has allowed us to pick up the pace and we're on schedule. It's not very often you can say you've been able to make up for lost time in the winter, but this winter, that has been the case.

"The equipment is going in as the building goes up. We have 11 utility rack modules going into the plant soon along with the cable tray that was prefabricated. It is an integral part of the building. That really helps on the efficiency side of things," Cooper said.

Turczyn said the actual tie-in to the BD No. 3 unit probably won't be scheduled until next year, but certain things will happen this summer from the SaskPower side of things.

A cooling unit will be installed in May and then duct work will begin for the flue gases and those are construction items that will be SaskPower's responsibility.

The SaskPower supervisor said after the engineers and inspectors have finished their preliminary work, other subcontractors and SaskPower teams will move in to begin their serious on-site work.

"We haven't encountered any skilled trades issues either," Turczyn said. "We're meeting with the building trades now and they think they can supply us with the people we'll need but still, there will be a huge demand for them this summer. There could be labour supply issues. The building trades people have built a website seeking the trades people and also seeking accommodations for them because that will be a big issue around here too. These people are needed for the jobs, they also need places to live whether it be houses, apartments, trailers ... and they need parking spaces for their people and equipment. The project should be going full bore this summer and the activity will be increasing, especially in the trades into 2013 because the project has to be completed in 2014," Turczyn said.

"We will have four main contractors on site to follow through at BD3 in 2013. These will be major contracts, large scale, so we'll see about 700 people on site in total by June with about 500 in April and then maybe back down to 450 in July. It will be fluid. We're just happy to have had a good productive winter season," Turczyn.

The SaskPower representative said the logistical end of things can get a bit tricky, even finding those parking spaces for the few hundred workers already on the site, especially following the flood season last summer. They have tried to minimize the impact, but what would normally be a minor problem, can bloom into a major one, if the details, like parking spaces, aren't tended to.

"After it dried out a bit last summer, it got better but if we have a typical spring, there will be some wet and mud and ... well, you know how spring is in Saskatchewan. So we'll try and level out the peaks and valleys," Turczyn said, trusting that there will be room for everyone once the busy summer construction season hits a peak.

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