Nfld. & Labrador

Dwight Ball stands by Nalcor changes, says expect more bad news from Labrador

Premier Dwight Ball told a Corner Brook Rotary group that the news coming out of Labrador lately has been grim, but that Wednesday's Nalcor shake-up is the right path to take.

Ball tells Corner Brook Rotary luncheon his priority is getting Muskrat Falls 'back on track'

N.L. Premier Dwight Ball speaking at the Corner Brook Rotary Luncheon on Thursday. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Premier Dwight Ball says the news coming out of Labrador lately has been grim, but that Wednesday's Nalcor shake-up is the right path to take.

Ball was in Corner Brook Thursday to speak to a Rotary luncheon about building a foundation for long term growth in the province, and about the business climate on the west coast of the island. 

During his speech, he made reference to Labrador, saying there was more "bad news" to come from that region.

When asked afterwards about his Labrador comments, Ball told CBC he was talking about the Muskrat Falls review, the interim report and the concerns about cost, timelines and schedules. Ball said those results will be announced by the end of June.

Nalcor changes

Following the speech, Ball answered reporter questions that were mostly focused on Wednesday's announcement that new Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall would be restructuring the Muskrat Falls project.

"I strongly endorse what CEO Marshall said yesterday," he said. "This is consistent with what we said in terms of cost overruns and significant loss of schedule. Which is one of the reasons why we saw the CEO yesterday do what he did — splitting this into two projects."

Ball also addressed the revelation that the construction contractor for Muskrat Falls, Italian-based Astaldi, is looking for hundreds of millions in extra payments before it will continue.

"As you know, in this year's budget there was $1.3 billion that was allocated to Nalcor. Not all of that will go to Muskrat Falls. Some of that is for the investment into oil and gas, primarily the Hebron project," he said.

"Right now we have a major contractor that we know is causing some of the problems at Muskrat Falls, and that's just one, there's eight significant projects when you break them up. Astaldi's construction being one of those eight"

The construction site of the hydroelectric facility at Muskrat Falls is seen on July 14, 2015. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Ball said the negotiation with Astaldi is ongoing, and will not be finalized by the end of June.

"Our priority right now is getting the megaproject Muskrat Falls back on track. It's having an impact on our debt, the amount of borrowing that we do within the province," Ball said.

"So clearly our focus is getting the project back on track and getting the information to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians by the end of June so that they will then know where this project is going to be int terms of schedule and in terms of cost."

With files from Colleen Connors