McKeil was contracted by Mammoet to provide marine transportation of large modules for the construction of Vale's nickel-processing plant at Long Harbour, NL. Most pieces were sourced from the Gulf of Mexico.
McKeil was contracted by Mammoet to provide marine transportation of large modules for the construction of Vale’s nickel-processing plant at Long Harbour, NL. Most pieces were sourced from the Gulf of Mexico.

The main sectors for McKeil project services include marine construction, mining, oil and gas, bridges, major infrastructure, offshore and Arctic development. The project fleet consists of a range of flat deck, jack-up and sectional barges, tugs, workboats, cranes and other equipment. Loading ramps, spuds and other modifications are made to service temporary dock facilities, drilling platforms and cargo staging.

“Some of the more difficult moves are those we have no control over – like beach landing in the Arctic,” says Olous Boag, Vice-President, Operations who leads the project and engineering development portfolios.

“There’s no dock to tie up to. Even the soundings from existing charts can be unreliable,” he points out.

“So, often we end up doing our own surveying with underwater cameras in remote locations. The barge is anchored in a known area and then we send the tugboat to do its own soundings.”

Standard roll-on/roll-off operations carrying components in the hundreds of tons in coastal and inland waters can be technically demanding. “But once things are set up, it can be as close to routine as you can get,” Boag says.

Generally speaking, he notes that “tug and barge operators can react quickly on one-off situations. We have the versatility, too, to pick up components at odd-ball locations, and get a particular party out of a jam.”

Evans Spirit passing through the Welland Canal with a load of aluminum from Sept-Iles for final destination at US Great Lakes ports. (Photo by Paul Beesley)
Evans Spirit passing through the Welland Canal with a load of aluminum from Sept-Iles for final destination at US Great Lakes ports. (Photo by Paul Beesley)

Last year was a busy period on the project services front. It included moving large tanks from Sarnia to Thunder Bay, a large reactor from Sarnia to Duluth, support for 34 oversized pieces from a heavy lift vessel anchored in Bath, Ontario, and shipments of turbines and generators from Montreal to Bath.

This summer, between July and October, McKeil Marine is moving 52 pre-fabricated homes from Wemindi, Quebec destined for an aboriginal community on James Bay in Canada’s Far North.

Over the past few years, several substantial highlight undertakings.

• McKeil Marine was contracted by Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors on behalf of ExxonMobil to support the construction of the massive Hebron Project Gravity Based Structure (GBS) located in offshore Newfoundland.

• McKeil supplied 15 barges used as platforms for mobile cement plants and staging GBS construction. Nine of the barges were built in China over a six month timeframe and delivered to Canada via heavy lift ship to expedite deployment to the site.

• McKeil Marine was contracted in 2013 to work with Mammoet Eastern Canada Ltd. for the movement of two project cargo components, including a 1,200 mt stacker used for ship loading, from Belledune, New Brunswick to Port Cartier on the St. Lawrence River.

• Also in 2013, McKeil Marine was contracted by Canadian Royalties Inc. to utilize the collective resources of in-house design and engineering, project management and skilled sailing crew to erect a temporary dock along a remote, rugged Arctic shoreline. The Nunavik Nickel Mine and related port location in Deception Bay lacked a permanent dock infrastructure. McKeil’s solution: the Nunavut Spirit barge with anchor lines and spuds to secure as well as a loading ramp to accommodate tidal changes.