Botched subsea cable installation nets Muskrat Falls partner $5.9M payout

A 1.2-kilometre stretch of cable that was part of the Maritime Link between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland had to be replaced because it settled incorrectly on the sea floor.

1.2-km stretch of Maritime Link cable had to be replaced because it settled incorrectly

A 1.2-kilometre section of the Maritime Link cable had to be replaced because it settled incorrectly on the sea floor. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

The owners of the Maritime Link collected a $5.9-million insurance payout for a poorly laid electric cable on the floor of the Cabot Strait in 2017.

The amount, $5,939,000, was disclosed by Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link in a recent report to regulators in Nova Scotia.

The company is a subsidiary of Halifax-based energy conglomerate Emera and responsible for transmission of Muskrat Falls hydroelectricity from Newfoundland into Nova Scotia.

A hitch in the cable

The claim goes back to the summer of 2017 and the laying of one of the two 170-kilometre submarine cables that run across the Cabot Strait.

The company said 1.2 kilometres of one of the cables had to be replaced after a post-installation inspection by a remotely operated vehicle revealed the cable had settled incorrectly on the sea floor.

An acute bend in the cable went beyond the manufacturer's specification. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

The company said it created an acute bend "that went beyond the manufacturer's engineering installation specification for the cable and required replacement of that section."

The cost was covered by insurance but who was responsible was not disclosed.

Emera Newfoundland spokesperson Jeff Myrick said information on the insurance claim will be filed with regulators as part of its final capital costing.

Muskrat Falls project over budget

The Maritime Link was built on time and is on track to meet its $1.577-billion budget. It went into service in January 2018.

The Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam in Labrador is being developed by Nalcor, a Newfoundland and Labrador provincial Crown corporation. That project is running over budget and behind schedule.

It is currently the subject of a searing commission of inquiry in Newfoundland.

In its third-quarter report to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link said Muskrat Falls is expected to come online in the second and third quarter of 2020.

In the meantime, electricity has been flowing into Newfoundland from Nova Scotia over the Maritime Link, a direction not anticipated when Muskrat Falls was announced in 2010.

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