Lorneville Mechanical Contractors(LMC) is used to working on large-scale industrial projects. After all, they led the construction and installation of the enormous 160,000 cubic-meter storage tanks at the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the east side of Saint John.
But that work was all done on-site. LMC has the capacity to do large-scale fabrication work at their facilities in the Spruce Lake Industrial Park on the city’s west side, but they haven’t been able to transport large pieces anywhere because of power lines, bridges and underpasses that get in the way.
As a result, they haven’t even been able to bid on projects that required them to do large-scale fabrication and ship the completed pieces to clients, says Khalil Asal, Director of Business Development.
“We missed opportunities because we couldn’t get [the completed modules] there,” said Asal to a group assembled for the annual general meeting for Saint John Industrial Parks.
Until now, that is. The meeting turned out to be a showcase for the first success story for Saint John Industrial Parks newly minted Spruce Lake Barge Terminal on the west side, which will allow companies like LMC to take on work they’ve had to forgo in the past. They can now ship large pre-fabricated modules by barge that would have been to big to transport by road.
Irving Oil has hired the LMC to fabricate large modules as part of an expansion at the refinery. LMC beat out companies from as far afield as Mexico, and will begin construction in the fall and make deliveries by barge in early 2018.
“Because the barge terminal was completed, we were able to bid on that work and be successful,” said Asal.
LMC is a large company with annual revenues around $120-million. It managed the refurbishment of Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station and was awarded a five-year tank maintenance contract at the Irving Oil refinery in 2014.
It also owns other companies and has major contracts in the rest of the country. They leveraged the barge facility to open a new line of business, with the new Irving contract potentially the first of many to come.
“This is work that would have gone elsewhere,” said Asal. “Hopefully it will be a launching pad [for projects like this in the future].”
Brian Irving, General Manager of Saint John Industrial Parks, said LMC is certainly the “first win” for the barge facility, which was just completed eight months ago after a decade of lobbying led to $7.5-million in funding from all three levels of government.
The west side industrial park has the infrastructure to take advantage of the barge facility, said Irving. There are two fabrication facilities, and a 40-acre piece of land where companies can do “open field” fabrication.
“A lot of value-added projects don’t need to be done in controlled circumstances,” he said. “They can be done in the field.”
Irving said there is a West Coast company, for example, that is looking at bringing in a piece from Europe for work on the “open field” site, and the company would then ship it out of the port from the the barge facility.
He sees the growth potential for large-scale prefabrication work with more companies from the outside recognizing there is opportunity here.
“We’ve got the labour force, we’ve got expertise, we’ve got experience, the certification,” he said. “We’ve got capacity in terms of fabrication shops. We’ve got access to tidal water, which is very well situated in relation to a lot of the major projects that will happen in the next 10-15 years.”