The two men were in town Tuesday to tour the ‘Terra Nova’ FPSO, currently undergoing repairs and maintenance at the yard, at the invitation of Suncor Energy Inc.
Mr. Ball, who arrived a day prior and met with other supporters and stakeholders in the region during his visit, was impressed with the work.
He said it’s important to get out around the province and see what’s happening first hand.
“It’s one thing to read about it and it’s one thing to see the pictures of it and all that thing, but it’s a much different feeling when you get the opportunity. In this particular case to walk the FPSO, and just to see the magnitude, and just to see the shipyard here in action, to see the key components that are in place.
“Talking to officials this morning with Suncor, they’re actually thrilled that just even minute details that they need, it’s all here.”
Mr. Kirby, who was born in St. Lawrence and raised in Lord’s Cove, indicated NDP leader Lorraine Michael was unable to make the trip last week, and he jumped at the opportunity to have a look.
“I think it’s really good for the Burin Peninsula. I know a number of people working on this right now and they’re pretty happy about it.
“In the long term, I’d like to see this sort of work here all the time. That’s what we really need to see on the Burin Peninsula, is this yard working flat out all the time, whether it’s at this sort of work or shipbuilding itself.”
The St. John’s North MHA said the current provincial government lacks a major shipbuilding policy, like those of Nova Scotia and other regions of the world.
“What we really need to be doing, is government needs to have a decent partnership with the community down here, with the corporate community that is trying to get these projects, trying to get these tenders and trying to get this work and bring it in here, and tie it all together so that’s it’s coherent, so that we’re selling something.
“The Burin Peninsula is a big part of this province. There’s a lot of potential that still remains untapped here. We’ll be paying close attention to it.” - – Dwight Ball
“What we’re selling here is our capability, because the people in this area and the people across the province who are working here are really showing their stripes. I mean, they didn’t have very much of a problem at all finding really skilled people to do this work.”
He acknowledged the Burin Peninsula has taken a hit of late, with the fishery, in particular, and suggested the Kiewit facility is as important as ever.
“I think we’ve really got to work on making sure that this sort of modern infrastructure here is maintained and built upon, and I think it’s worthy of public investment.
“The government really needs to take an interest in what’s going on here and to see that we can really have something sustainable for the long term.”
Mr. Ball, who has been travelling throughout the province this summer was scheduled to visit St. Alban’s and Fogo Island as well last week, said he also sees the infrastructure at the Kiewit yard as a key piece in future development, including some of the province’s own needs.
“It’s a huge asset that we have here and something that we have to make sure gets maintained for many years to come.”
He’s hopeful a deal can be worked out to build more provincial ferries in Marystown, which he called “an appropriate place to do it,” and also sees potential work on the Hebron project as another positive sign.
“There’s still a lot of work to do here. The Burin Peninsula is a big part of this province. There’s a lot of potential that still remains untapped here.
“We’ll be paying close attention to it. We’ll be back. There’s no question about that.”