Bellemare in complex Canadian condenser move

Six over-dimensional pieces for a Newfoundland hydroelectric project are currently on their way from Quebec by road and sea - with a challenging final land leg still to come. -  News Desk - News Desk
Tuesday 17 January 2017

Canadian heavy haulage provider Transport Bellemare International has been contracted by GE to provide a turnkey logistics, transport and installation solution for three synchronous condensers destined for Soldiers Pond, the converter station of Nalcor Energy's Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Newfoundland.

Each condenser comprises two units - a 225-tonne rotor measuring 9.45 m x 5.29 m x 4.71 m, and a 205-tonne stator with the dimensions 9.28 m x 5.75 m x 6.4 m, making a total of six heavy and over- dimensional pieces to haul across eastern Canada.

The rotors were fabricated at GE's plant in Sorel, Quebec, while the stators (the rotors' casings) were manufactured by a subcontractor in Trois Rivieres, Quebec.

The first stage of the transport began with two stators moved at night to the Port of Trois Rivieres. Bellemare then mobilised in Sorel, ready to begin ro-ro operations for the two rotors.

Barge movements

Once the rotors were loaded on board a barge, the barge made its way to Trois Rivieres, where the two stators were also loaded before being shipped to Newfoundland.

This process would be repeated for the remaining two loads.

Bellemare was responsible for logistics and engineering of the barge operations, explained heavy haul operations manager, Kevin Kwateng.

He noted that the use of different ports proposed several major challenges, including "differences in dock heights, significant tides in Newfoundland, and insufficient dock capacity, requiring reinforcement". 

In order to tackle these challenges, Bellemare engineers performed extensive barge stability, deck strength, dock capacity, sea acceleration calculations, and utilised innovative seafastening.

Ageing infrastructure

Road transport through Trois Rivieres city centre required numerous route modifications including the temporary removal of multiple items of street furniture such as barriers, signs and lights, as well as the lifting of utility lines and wires, and trimming of tree branches.

Kwateng explained that upon arrival of the second barge in Newfoundland the weather became another challenge, since the tide was over 1.4 m high.

"Normally this is not an issue as we can plan strategically when to offload, but there was extremely bad weather - including rain, winds reaching 45 km/h and waves over 2 m high at the dock - so we were unable to unload the barge for the first 36 hours."

He continued: "Once an eight-hour window presented itself we did not hesitate to take the opportunity before the bad weather returned. Since our team was on standby and ready, we were able to offload and place the units on stools just before bad weather struck again."

However, the true transportation and logistics challenge begins in Newfoundland, where the units will be moved overland to the converter station, 40 km from the port.

Transport approval

Kwateng told HLPFI that only one route has been approved by the authorities, having taken Bellemare six months to obtain the relevant permit after undertaking several route surveys and site visits.

With ageing infrastructure that was never designed for such heavy cargoes, culverts and bridges were assessed and have been improved by a local engineering company in collaboration with Newfoundland's Department of Transportation and Works.

"The approved route also leads the transport combination through high density areas, with many electricity wires," said Kwateng, noting that these wires are currently being raised in order to allow the units to pass through.

Only once the public utilities have lifted all wires to an 8.25 m clearance will the complex transport and installation operations begin.

This operation is expected to be complete in mid-January 2017. Bellemare could then have a total of 60 axle lines of Goldhofer SPMTs and conventional trailers in use to make up for lost time, said Kwateng.




This article is taken from HLPFI's November/December 2016 edition. See the full magazine here.

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