THE Falkland Islands Government is progressing port delivery contract negotiations with ship building company Harland & Wolff.
The firm were the favourite choice from the recent tender process to deliver a new floating dock facility, similar to the current FIPASS structure.
The British firm, famous for building the Titanic, also built the FIPASS barges over 40 years ago.
Over the next three months they will be in contract negotiations with FIG over the £100 to £120 million pound project to deliver the ‘marine side’ aspect of the new port – their tender bid including the building and installation of new pontoons as well as the phased removal of FIPASS.
A tender for the access road and causeway leading to the new port will be put out in the coming months as the port project team finalise design aspects, based on work completed during the BAM Nuttall design phase.
Director of Development and Commercial Services, Becky Clark, said: “It’s a really significant step. We needed to have the preferred bidder status awarded before we could have these detailed conversations, and it’s those detailed conversations that will allow us to get to the point where we can actually award a delivery contract.
“It’s an essential step in this form of contracting which is quite different to what we did with BAM, where a lot of those conversations took place after a contract and that commercial tension wasn’t necessarily retained.”
When asked if things had been learned during the BAM Nuttall process, Ms Clark replied: “undoubtedly, there’s good and bad. It wasn’t as if the BAM project didn’t give us any good things. We’re using a lot of the materials from that project. We’ve also learned from the contracting strategy and we’re doing something now that we think is more appropriate and more likely to lead to the delivery we so desperately need.”
Ms Clark added: “with the floating dock facility we are looking at a longer facility than BAM would have been able to provide for significantly less money. And it’s a solution we know works here and will work over an anticipated 50-year life span.
“We have operators and industry users who are incredibly expert at using a floating dock facility.
“It’s a lower risk, low cost option and given the urgency to replace FIPASS now we know that the life of the barges is coming very close to its end, it seemed like the most sensible thing to do.”
Port Project Manager Paul Silvanus said: “Ultimately we’ve given ourselves the backstop date of the end of 2027 for all those works to be completed.”
On whether works could start this year Mr Silvanus added: “If we see works it’ll more likely be on the road and causeway. The marine side will require manufacturing of barges…in the UK and that will take some time.”
When the two aspects of the project are finalised with contractors, it is likely that work on both aspects will happen simultaneously.
Mr Silvanus said: “We’re delighted to be at the point now where we’re close to having that partner on board. It’s been a massive step forward.”