COVID-19: THE NEW COVER FOR DELAY AND OVERRUNS AT MUSKRAT

It took a Commission of Inquiry to uncloak the
deceit that flowed from the Offices of former Nalcor CEO Ed Martin, who thought
he should be the one to define the “lowest cost” option and the extent of “cost
overruns”.

It seems Stan Marshall is finding some of the
tools of deception that Ed Martin left behind.

The Muskrat shutdown — a precaution amidst the
COVID-19 pandemic — is now to blame for Marshall’s failure to “finish strong”. “The
end is in sight, even through the fog of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CBC quoted
the blustery Stan, neither the CBC nor the CEO willing to measure the fog of
incompetence that still inhabits the Crown Corporation.

Finishing on time was never a possibility — at 2% from
the start. “Finish strong”, the mantra of the current CEO, is just one more boast that history will record was whipped up more by ego than insight.

Marshall even asserts that COVID-19 “makes it
difficult, if not impossible, to be definitive on cost and schedule at this
time.” Stan’s $12.7 billion completion figure is history. Even $13 billion melted
faster than a snowflake on a trapper’s stove. But, have no fear: “Muskrat falls will be completed a year from” – with a caveat. 
“All this assumes”, says Stan, “the pandemic remains contained, and
will not cause us to suspend commissioning again.” Who could possibly consider that any other cause might interfere? Might continued incompetence even be a possibility?

The generosity of public money might have been
interpreted as the reason Marshall recently dismissed questions about penalties
against GE Grid Solutions. That’s the outfit that was supposed to have transmission
software ready by the deferred date of August 2019. Stan didn’t say if there is
a toss-up between NL and GE as to which is the biggest financial basket case,
but he might have mentioned a couple of other reasons the bill didn’t get sent to
GE.

It was with Nalcor’s permission that GE advanced
the software from “Factory System Test” to “Factory Acceptance Test” earlier
this year, a key step to completion and a likely mistake on Nalcor’s part,
according to the Liberty Consulting Group. Liberty discovered that “a
significant number of material test failures” were experienced and Nalcor ought
to have been aware of them before permitting the software to move to the more
advanced testing stage.

Then, too, the synchronous condensers are undergoing
massive re-work, without which the power grid would be completely unstable. One turbine may be put into service for a few minutes soon to produce power for an impressionable media. But such a brief shot of juice won’t facilitate complete testing of the GE software, anyway. Stan chose
not to say those things.

The condensers have been rendered useless by
vibration and binding issues. The concrete foundations, built to support the
heavy equipment, were improperly installed. 
Perhaps Stan can send Gilbert Bennett out to
explain why he put an electrical engineer in charge of that civil engineering
project!

Indeed, without the Liberty Consulting Group,
acting for the PUB, the public would never know key details or the dimension of
the problems that continue to threaten delay — and increase costs. 

Liberty has
already warned that Muskrat power will not be available next winter. That is
the fifth year with Stan Marshall at the Nalcor helm. Remind me again what he
brought to the Project?

Even the January blizzard was invoked by Marshall
as contributing to the Muskrat delay. It surprised no one that Astaldi wasn’t
aware that winter came to Labrador. But Nalcor, too? Stan, Gilbert and Paul —
the three are cozier than a party on Italy’s Amalfi Coast!

As some say, it’s an ill-wind that doesn’t blow
someone some good.

But a pandemic?

Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.

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