Parrsboro wharf will be used for barge preparations

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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Cable-laying operation to take place this month

The first subsea cable from the offshore Crown lease area to the FORCE centre will be laid Dec. 11-12.

FORCE marine operations director Tony Wright talks to a group of local stakeholders at a recent meeting in West Bay. The first subsea cable is scheduled to be laid from the offshore Crown Lease area to a yet-to-be built underground vault on the beach near the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) visitor centre in West Bay on Dec. 11-12.

WEST BAY – The success of an upcoming cable-laying operation at the nearby Minas Passage tidal power test site will pave the way for an even more important job planned for the spring.

The first subsea cable is scheduled to be laid from the offshore Crown Lease area to a yet-to-be built underground vault on the beach near the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) visitor centre in West Bay on Dec. 11-12, FORCE marine operations director Tony Wright told a group of local stakeholders at a recent meeting.

“It’s a difficult job because of course alterations – how to route cables to avoid seabed obstacles,” said Wright. “But this is compounded by the fact that we’re trying to do that in the tidal regime out in the Minas Passage, so we have quite the job ahead of us.”

The laying of the four kilometres of data cable, which will be used for monitoring and research efforts, will give operators an idea of what to expect during the more critical operation of laying 11 km of power cables in 2014.

“The reason why we want to install this cable first is because it is somewhat disposable in nature,” he explained. “Time- and resource-wise, we could go procure another if we make a mistake.”

Procuring another power cable would not be as easy, according to Wright, who said it would take about a year-and-a-half, and would still be an unlikely prospect.

Deploying the cable will require the use of a 30-metre barge and three tugboats, which will allow them to operate closer to the beach than the 72-metre barge and four tugboats utilized in the 2012 test run.

The barge will be prepared for the job at the Parrsboro wharf, with that initial work planned for Dec. 4-5. Marine trials will then take place on Dec. 6-8, followed by the installation of the cable onto the barge from a tractor-trailer on Dec. 9-11.

“Once we start this, we can’t not finish,” he said. “We will need a period of 6-8 hours where we will be blocking access to the wharf, in order to get that done.”

He said his biggest concern is to not interfere with the local lobster fishery, which will wrap up its fall season at around the same time period. At the meeting, he sought feedback from David Rafuse and Croyden Wood, two of the local fishers.

“Hopefully we will be done by Dec. 4-5,” said Rafuse. “The first week of December is probably our busiest time on the wharf.”

Wright said a project plan would be drawn up and shared with the fishers, with further discussion hopefully to prevent any time conflicts. Another concern brought up by citizen Harvey Lev was whether the aboiteau bridge could support the 30 tonnes of cable being trucked to the wharf by tractor-trailer.

A second option would be to use Digby, where the barge now sits, but Wright said their preference is to mobilize out of Parrsboro.

awagstaff@citizenrecord.ca

Twitter: @ADNandrew

 

Organizations: Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy

Geographic location: Parrsboro, WEST BAY, Minas Passage

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