Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Headed south

Activities in Canada's north are winding down for the year, which means that several tugs are returning to the south.

Svitzer Canada's two tugs Svitzer Nerthus and Svitzer Njal were reported arriving in Mulgrave October 23 and cleared this morning bound for Bermuda. Since July they had been working at Milne Inlet on the north side of Baffin Island assisting Fednav ships to load iron ore.

As Irving Elm, the tyug is hauled on the slip at the now deunct Stenpro shipyard in Liverpool, NS.
Atlantic Towing Ltd's Atlantic Elm and Atlantic Beech were reported off Nova Scotia October 24, heading for Saint John. They had been working in Rankin Inlet all summer, assisting Desgagnés ships as they delivered cargo to lighterage barges.

Atlantic Beech doing some shiphandling work with an autocarrier in Halifax in 2005.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Halifax Tugger update

I have now received conformation on the ancestry of the small tug Halifax Tugger. It was indeed previously known as Cercle Polaire, built in 2011 and carrying registration number C19246QC. Craft enrolled in  Canada's Small Vessel Registry have no official number, only a number. These are generally vessels of under 15 grt.

Halifax Tugger working on the BigLift project in Halifax.

Cercle Polaire moored in the tidal marina at Ile-aux-Coudres last year.

According to the Transport Canada web site its numerical registration has been suspended, which would explain why the number was painted out on the tug's bow. Every vessel must have some form of registration, so it would seem that new owners RMI Marine intend to re-register it by name, which is permitted for vessels of all sizes. It also applies to vessels that are subject to mortgages or financing.

The tug's aluminum wheelhouse top is demountable, allowing it to be transported by road.

Built by the GFFM Leclerc shipyard in Ile-aux-Coudres as their hull number 7, it was first registered in 2011. The tug was part of the Leclerc rental fleet and was used in marine construction and arctic supply work. It is a twin screw boat, powered by two Cat engines. Horsepower is inconsistently reported as 300 bhp or 520 bhp. It measures 33.6' x 10' x 2.6' permitting it to work in very shallow water.

The Leclerc company has built several new and more powerful triple screw tugs recently, so this one seems to have become surplus to their needs.


Monday, October 19, 2015

And they're off

Almost like the beginning of a horse race or perhaps the old time LeMans start for a car race, a small fleet of suppliers began to leave over the weekend for the start of Shell's drilling program in the Shelburne Basin.

Shell Oil (with non-operating partners Conco Phillips 30% and Suncor 20%) acquired licenses for six areas and may drill seven exploratory wells over the next four years. The area, about 250 km south of Halifax, just off the edge of the continental shelf, is off the Southwest Scotian Shelf.

The drill ship Stena IceMAX has arrived from the Gulf of Mexico and will be positioning itself to drill in 1500 to 3500 meters of water. If the first two wells look good Shell will continue drilling, However it is do or die, for if those two are unpromising the program will end.

Shell has contracted for four suppliers to support the operation.

Secunda's Scotian Sea sailed on Sunday, and will be the standby vessel which will remain on scene most of the time. It can also carry supplies, and is fitted with large rescue boat.

Breaux Tide sailed also and it is one of two suppliers chartered by Atlantic Towing from Tidewater. Sister Jones Tide is still in Halifax but ready to sail when needed.

DOF Subsea Canada is using Skandi Flora which has also sailed.

All the suppliers are working under the Canadain flag, with Canadain crews.

Unfortunately the drilling site is outside of the AIS range, so it will not be possible to monitor activity as we can with the gas fields in the Sable Island area.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Big Lift, Small Tugs

The project to replace the roadway of the Angus L. Macdonald bridge in Halifax harbour got underway in earnest today as the first old deck section was removed. The year long project to replace the deck in 46  sections in over night operations will allow the bridge to remain open during the days when traffic is at its heaviest. The work is expected to take a year and a half.

Named "The Big Lift" the project has its own website:  https://www.hdbc.ca/about-the-project/

Years in the planning this "mega-project" involves a couple of barges rented from Location Océan, part of Quebec's Groupe Océan. See Shipfax post from July.

RMI Marine is handling the tug work with three vessels.
Belle D, which is registered to Atlantic Towing Ltd, was built in 1967 as Boatman 4 by Fercraft Marine Inc of Cote Ste-Catherine, QC for Montreal Boatmen. It was rebuilt in 1989. Irving's Steel and Engine Products Ltd of Liverpool, NS, acquired and renamed it Stenpro IV in about 1997. It was transferred to Atlantic Towing Ltd and renamed Belle. D for use in Belledune, NB. By 2010 it appeared in Halifax and has been operated by RMI ever since. It is a twin screw tug of 450 bhp.

Captain Jim was built by Guimond's Boats Ltd of Baie Ste-Anne, NB in 1989 as Atlantic Walnut. Its glass fibre hull follows the lines of a typical Northumberland Strait fishing boat, but was initially used as a pilot boat in Saint John, NB by Atlantic Towing Ltd. It was renamed about 2000 and operates for RMI as a workboat, diving tender, crew boat and light tug.

 Halifax Tugger  is an unofficial name for RMI's latest addition. Since it is under 15 grt it is licensed under small craft regulations with a number only, and no official name. It was built by the GFFM Leclerc company on L'Ile-aux-Coudres, QC for their fleet of rental tugs. Most of their dozen or so similar boats are used by northern supply companies such as Desgagnés but have also been used on various marine construction projects. The tugs are truckable so turn up in odd places.

When I saw Cercle Poliare in June at Leclerc's yard it was painted and ready to go back in the water.

When RMI rented  purchased the tug and gave it the new name of Halifax Tugger, they inexplicably painted out its registration number. A little detective work on my part leads me to believe it was built as Cercle Polaire in 2011 (also an unofficial name).  If so it is a twin screw tug of  600 bhp.

As each old bridge deck section is lowered from the bridge, it is landed on a barge where it will be secured and moved to a scrapping facility where it will be cut up. Meanwhile the deck section, transported on another specially fitted barge from the fabricators, Cherubini Metals Works, in Eastern Passage, is moved into position and lifted up in to place.

 Belle D alongside the rental barges, with the first new roadway section.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Gas and Oil problems

Looking at Pier 9C one would be excused for thinking that all those suppliers mean a lot of activity in the oil and gas sector.

The Shell Oil offshore drilling program, expected to start up in September, is still not underway due to permit delays. Three suppliers are idle in Halifax waiting for the drill ship Stena IceMAX to arrive from the Gulf of Mexico.

 Farthest from the camera Jones Tide, then Skandi Flora are awaiting Shell's start up. Scotian Sea in the foreground is awaiting its next assignment. At right Atlantic Condor sails for Deep Panuke.
The third Shell supplier, Breaux Tide, is tied up at the Mobil dock in Dartmouth, so the suppliers that usually use that dock are now using Pier 9C.

Jones Tide doing trials on October 3.

All is not well off Sable Island where the two gas projects are winding down well before the end of their expected life spans.

Sable Offshore Energy Project (Exxon Mobil, Shell Canada, Imperial Oil, Mosbacher and Pengrwouth) is talking of decommissioning to start in 2017. It will be a major project to dismantle the well and production platform, and lead partner Exxon is considering Point Tupper as the base for that work.
First gas was in 1999 with an expected life of 25 years, but production has been diminishing for several years.

Meanwhile at nearby Deep Panuke, production has been off and on recently due to large quantities of water. Its first gas was in 2013 and instead of 13 years of production, the field may only have two years left. Operator Encana is now said to be considering selling the project (but who would buy it with that prognosis?)

Supply boats will still be needed for several years no matter what happens to the gas fields, but it seems unlikely that there will be actual development in oil fields beyond exploration drilling unless the price of oil goes up again.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Keewatin at pier 27

The Northern Transportation Co Ltd tug Keewatin arrived in Halifax October 8 towing the barge NT 1509 and tied up at pier 27. The tug has been an off an on visitor to Halifax  since 2002 when Northern Transporation began to ramp up an eastern operation, to supplement its western arctic and Mackenzie River business.

Keewatin at pier 27 today.
Yarrows built the Keewatin in Esquimalt, BC in 1974. The triple screw 3375 bhp shallow draft tug sailed via the Panama Canal, with four 1800 series barges and wintered on the St.Lawrence, then loaded in Valleyfield, QC in the summer of 1975 for Churchill. MB. It then began to service five western Hudson Bay communities and Coral Harbour under government contract. Northern Transportation Co Ltd was then a crown corporation, but was privatized in 1985 and is now part of the aboriginal owned NorTerra Inc.

The company, and the tug, have suffered many ups and downs over the years due to shifts in the business climate and management changes. In 2002, the tug was sent south and arrived in Halifax for the first time on November 9. After a refit in Shelburne it went to work for Atlantic Towing Ltd. In 2003 it worked on the Great Lakes with a gravel barge, then with a brine barge.

In 2004 it returned to Halifax and towed barges for Atlantic Towing Ltd.

In 2010 the tug was to work the supply run to Hudson Bay again, but was laid up in Newfoundland due to hull deficiencies. These have since been repaired and the tug was again in Halifax in July 2013.

The tug was much more photographable in 2013 when it towed the barge NT 1524 through the Narrows to Fairview Cove.

Keewatin departed St.John's August 7, 2015 towing the fleet mate supply/tug Alex Gordon to an unknown destination (likely to Mount Carmel, NL for layup, but this has not been confirmed).
( Northern Transportation's other supply/tug Jim Kilabuk was in Halifax earlier this year on its way back to the west coast, eventually making its way to the Beaufort Sea. Both suppliers have worked off and on in the western arctic over the years.) 


Friday, October 9, 2015

Heading South

The tug Boa Odin sailed from Halifax on October 8, towing the Boa Barge 33 loaded with one section of the former Novadock floating drydock.The destination is Tampa, FL.

As morning fog burns off on October 7, Boa Odin stands by the stern of the Boa Barge 33.

The tow will be within range of shoreside AIS stations for the entire trip, so will be easy to follow on Marinetraffic.com other AIS sites.

Also trackable is the supplier Maersk Chignecto, southbound giving Tampico, MX as its destination. That port is well out of the normal operating area of the St.John's based Maersk operations.

 Arriving in Halifax in 2014, rigged with seabed survey gear, Maersk Chignecto was also in Halifax in February 2015  fitted with for cable work.

 The last of the Husky Bow Valley suppliers in the Maersk Canada fleet, it dates from 1983. Although still shown as registered in Canada, and owned by Maersk, is this its last trip?