Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Svitzer lands a big one

Svitzer Canada has landed a big contract requiring two tugs for work in the far north.

Baffinland Iron Mines, developers of an ambitious project on Baffin Island, (72 degrees north latitude, 79 degrees west longitude)  have constructed a port in Milne Inlet to export iron ore from the Mary River mine, initially between July and October. The mine will be running all year, stockpiling the product for shipping during the open water season, then loading out in summer.

The project originally called for a rail line to a proposed new port facility at Steenby Inlet, and year round shipping with icebreaking bulk carriers. The project was scaled back when the world demand for iron ore softened, and the original promoters sold the project. It is now owned 50% by ArcelorMittal and 50% by Nunavut Iron Ore. After several years of delay the project seems to be back on track.
See the Baffinland web site for more: http://www.baffinland.com/
But also see oppostion to year-round shipping: http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674nunavut_regulatory_org_says_no_to_baffinland/
There is also a potted history of the project here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baffinland_Iron_Mine

Much of the development work for the port facility was carried out by Groupe Océan, who built two small tugs and used barges to shuttle test samples of ore out to anchored ships. Ocean also transported mining and construction equipment to the site using their tugs and barges. I assumed that the two arctic class tugs, Océan Tundra and its yet to be named sister tug, would also be used in the new Baffin port.*

Other supplies for the port and mine arrived last year on the ships of Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping (NEAS) using their own tugs and lighterage barges.

Svitzer has now won the contract for tug service and will be transferring two tugs from Europe for the work. Both tugs were built in 2009 by East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE for the Danish company Nordane, and were chartered to, then purchased by Svitzer's Swedish subsidiary Svitzer Sverige.

Svitzer Njal is the former Stevns Icequeen (ii), was completed in September 2009 and
Svitzer Nerthus is the former Stevns Iceflower (ii) completed in December 2009.

Stevns Icequeen arriving in Halifax fresh from the shipyard.

After trials, and with spray shields fitted over the engine room air intakes, the tug sails for Denmark.

Both tugs completed final fitout  and conducted their trials and bollard pull tests in Halifax before sailing to Demark on their own hulls.After charter to Svitzer they were repainted in Svitzer colours. They are due in Halifax early in June for "Canadianization" and renaming before entering service in mid-July this summer.

* Both tugs were also intended for tanker escort on the St.Lawrence River, but a recent decision not to allow a gas port at Cacouna has also reduced demand for these super tugs. At time of writing Océan Tundra is offered for sale or charter through Marcon International with the notation "Owner not keen to sell, but will consider tempting offers."


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