Got TIPS or BREAKING NEWS? Please call 545-3572; ads call 440-6666                               Sittings from House of Assembly are carried live on 90.9 FM the Caribbean superstation or follow live online: www.cbnvirginislands.com

Gov't buckling to concerns over proposed Wartsila agreement

- Hon Mark H. Vanterpool said proposal too lengthy & costly @ $4 million per year for 5 years; Will not sign agreement as is
Minister for Communications and Works Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) told this news site that Government is likely to shelve a proposal by equipment supplier Wartsila to train local engineers in the use of new engines that the BVI Electricity Corporation recently acquired. Photo: VINO/File
In an exclusive interview with this news site on Friday March 18, 2016, the Minister said that the cost of the proposed Wartsila contract will be about $4 million per annum for a proposed period of five years. Photo: Internet source
In an exclusive interview with this news site on Friday March 18, 2016, the Minister said that the cost of the proposed Wartsila contract will be about $4 million per annum for a proposed period of five years. Photo: Internet source
In addition, the Minister said that he has hearkened to the concerns of the workers of the BVI Electricity Corporation who believe that the corporation cannot afford what is being proposed and that it would be to the detriment of the workers. Photo: VINO/File
In addition, the Minister said that he has hearkened to the concerns of the workers of the BVI Electricity Corporation who believe that the corporation cannot afford what is being proposed and that it would be to the detriment of the workers. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Minister for Communications and Works Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) told this news site that Government is likely to shelve a proposal by equipment supplier Wartsila to train local engineers in the use of new engines that the BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) recently acquired.

This follows a public outcry from BVIEC workers and other concerned residents over the proposed agreement, which they slammed as being unnecessary and too costly for the territory. BVIEC workers had also expressed fear of losing their jobs.

However, in an exclusive interview with this news site on Friday March 18, 2016, the Minister said the cost of the proposed contract will be about $4 million per annum for a proposed period of five years.

The Minister said the cost of the contract and the length of time for its execution are too great for the territory and it is unlikely that it will be accepted.

In addition, Minister Vanterpool said he has hearkened to the concerns of the workers of the BVI Electricity Corporation who believe that the corporation cannot afford what is being proposed and that it would be to the detriment of the workers.
According to the Minister, he is supposed to have a meeting with staff today March 21, 2016 with a view to further discussing their concerns and charting a way forward.

“There is no agreement. I want to make that very clear. There is a proposed agreement and I have made it clear to the electricity corporation that I am not happy with it,” he said.

“There are a couple of things that we are not happy with...one is that the contract is too long (five years), secondly we don’t think we need such a contract for the transfer of knowledge to the local workers and thirdly the contract is too costly,” he said.

Returns minimal

The Minister said that it would not be a prudent decision to embark on the contract as is since the promised returns seem to be miniscule in relation to the monies to be spent.

“My group has analysed it since I had indicated to the board of the BVI Electricity Corporation, it’s Chairman and it’s General Manager since late last year that I was not going to support them signing it. And then the employees are quite right in a number of issues that they have raised to me, especially the transfer of knowledge.”

The Minister said that instead of five years, a more workable period might be one year. He said too that the arrangement seemed to be designed to allow a large number of persons coming from Wartsila. He said that while it will be useful to have Wartsila here when the generating units are being put to work, it does not require such a large influx of staff from the generator manufacturer.

According to the Minister, the staff had concerns that their jobs were being threatened by the proposed agreement. He said he assured the workers that nothing would be signed until the government was happy from their side and the employees had some level of comfort regarding the concerns that they had.

He said that the new Wartsila engines would not be so complicated for the local persons to learn as they have been working with the Wartsila units that had been purchased and in operation for some years before.

There must be changes

The Minister said Wartsila will have to make changes to the proposed agreement if there is to be any hope of government supporting it.

“The way I see it is that the board will take all these views into consideration and go back to Wartsila with some adjusted proposed contract...perhaps maybe along the lines that I suggested...maybe a year, with some reduction in the number of persons they are bringing,” he said.

Nothing signed

It was reported in another section of the local media on March 8, 2016 that workers of the BVIEC were “up in arms about reports of a foreign company with an initial 11-member team to "co-operate" the Pockwood Pond Plant and that this was expected to cost Government millions.

Efforts to seek clarification from General Manager of the BVIEC Leroy A. E. Abraham proved futile.

However, when we called Minister Vanterpool, he offered a clarification, saying that nothing was signed with the foreign company, whom he said was Wartsila, the supplier for the power generators.

“Nothing has been completed but there is a discussion with the company that has provided the generators - Wartsila. [It will entail that assisting, not running the plant but assisting the corporation by training the local operators.”

He said the arrangement will be a temporary one until the knowledge is transferred to the local staff.

The Minister confirmed that the management of the BVIEC has been discussing the issue with the workers.

“No one will lose their jobs. The company will be on a mission of training so that they could manage the new equipment that is coming in. So there should be no fear absolutely,” said the Minister.

Honourable Vanterpool added that while he was not sure of the timeline he did not believe it would be very long before it is implemented. He said negotiations would continue between Wartsila and the management of the BVIEC over the next couple of weeks.

About Wartsila

According to research, Wartsila is a Finnish corporation which manufactures and services power sources and other equipment in the marine and energy markets. As of 2014 the company employed close to 18,000 workers in more than 70 countries and it is headquartered in Helsinki.

Wartsila has three main businesses; Power Plants focussing on the energy market, Ship Power focussing on the marine market and Services which is supporting both markets.

22 Responses to “Gov't buckling to concerns over proposed Wartsila agreement”

  • drowning man (21/03/2016, 09:17) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    something smells fishy
    • @drowning man (21/03/2016, 10:19) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
      I agree. That many millions could train astronauts to run a space station!
    • one eye (21/03/2016, 12:19) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      Woth this gang you take everything with a grain of salt
      • vex (21/03/2016, 22:47) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        We must increase measures to help to staple out corruption on all levels.
  • hmmmmm tooo!! (21/03/2016, 09:34) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    i am wondering if the BVIEC staff did not bring this issue as a concerned....if Mark would be taking that stance now!!
  • Scary Mary (21/03/2016, 09:42) Like (27) Dislike (4) Reply
    This sounds like a repeat of the Rolls Royce mess from several years back, and we all know how that turned out.

    Without proper training and QUALIFIED technicians who have a clue what they are doing, we will be buying new engines AGAIN in another few years, and the same talking heads will claim that the Wartsila engines were faulty or were not up to our standards. Same old, same old. So tired of this.

    If the BVIEC staff haven't learned to run them properly, (since they are using Wartsila engines now) WHEN do you think they will learn? A year is no time at all.

    If you can't afford to do something right, why do it at all? Government should release the death grip they have on our power supply and privatize the electricity corporation. Maybe THEN we would finally be provided a reliable power source!

    • Local (21/03/2016, 12:40) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      With this kind of talk from the Minister and the aggrieved workers, is "a reliable power source" really desired?

      Residents have to continuously buy the same appliances, large and small, over and over because the electricity supply is always destroying what people got already. But who cares?
  • affected (21/03/2016, 10:49) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    To Scary Mary; I share your fears about the Rolls engines . My question/concern is , Why can't we get American engines which are closer and parts more easily attained ?
    The fear of Gov not doing things right scares the whole country , cause those boys HAVE NOT delivered Government in the sunshine as promised .To privatize under NDP is "SCARY" Mary , cause a lot of us invested in CCT and returns have been disappointing .If our leaders would be a little LESS greedy maybe; privatization may be the way to go ; BUT look at what HE tried with "bi water" . I think we are between A ROCK and A HARD PLACE . The bvi ---ked!
    • Hmmm (21/03/2016, 11:53) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      If BVIEC gets privatized Govt would then have to pay their bills. Not likely to happen for that very reason. ;)
  • Well (21/03/2016, 11:53) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    @affected, I don't think if you were called the biggest hypocrite, you would want to do business with the hypocrite callers.
    • affected (21/03/2016, 13:54) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @well I guess you are referring to BVI being call a "tax Haven" by USA . I am NOT worried about them and that ; They " USA " are the BIGGEST users of HARD drugs but they want to police the world . Don't we see they now have an epidemic with "PILL ADDICTION " which they created for them selves . I was concerned about these engines coming from Europe and having to wait weeks /months for parts when there is a break down as oppose to next day service from US main land
      jus sayn
      • US (21/03/2016, 20:22) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply

        The only difference affected is there is a lot of undercover drug users in your back yard. Your Island is full of drug users, pill poppers just like the US. When you take pills from the Doctor or buy over the counter pills for pain, if you don't know, that is a form of drug too. Your backyard is not that pristeen. You bought up the subject about drugs not me.

  • ... (21/03/2016, 12:19) Like (26) Dislike (0) Reply
    Mark is still a Minister?
  • lodger (21/03/2016, 13:38) Like (13) Dislike (31) Reply
    Maybe, just maybe, we would have fewer outages with Wartsilla staff here?
  • SMH (21/03/2016, 13:59) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    So ndp privitizing the corporation yo give to their supporters like they did at the TPP?
  • E. Leonard (21/03/2016, 21:39) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    Undoubtedly, an increase in electrical power generating capacity, improved service reliability and improved power stability are needed to facilitate continued growth and development. In addition to improved generation, improved transmission and distribution are also needed. New generating electrical power plants are needed. But $4M per year for 5 years for operations and maintenance training is probably too expensive. The contract base price if it did not should have included X number of manhours for operations and maintenance training either off-site or on-site or both.

    Additionally, the engines should come with maintenance and operations computer software and hardware, along with other training media, eg, maintenance manuals, CDs,.....etc. By chance training was not included in the base contract price, the procured cost of training should be fair and reasonable. At most, training should be up to a year. Further, $4M per year for 5 years appear too pricy and too lengthy. A more economical agreement needs to be negotiated. It must be a win-win for BVIEC customers. In any event, local operations workers need training and retraining to attain efficiency of engines, achieve equipment reliability, achieve service stability, reduce current operating and lifecycle cost, extend equipment life, retard equipment deterioration.......etc.
  • cpd (21/03/2016, 22:33) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Fundamental changes are necessary, and cannot be avoided if we're going to clean up the system.
    One Love!
  • liberal (22/03/2016, 01:04) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Hmmm, next step is privatizing BVIEC
  • Electrical Engineer (22/03/2016, 07:39) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    The Hon Ronnie Skelton, Minister of Health and Social Services, is a former Managing Director of BVIEC and electrical engineer. Was his advice sought on the procuring of the engines and the operations and maintenance instruction/training. Why did the workers had to raise a storm for Mark to acknowledge that $4M per year for 5 years was way to expensive. Hell, it is just training on operating and maintaining some run of the mill electricity generating engine, not maintaining the space shuttle. Is the complexity of the engines demanding this in depth level of training? If so they should have gone with a different brand. Are the capability of BVIEC workers being under estimated? Do we have no sense for what things should cost so we have to accept the most outrageous prices? What was the government estimate, if any, for the services? Geez som bred mon? Anyway, it seems as if Mark has awaken from his slumber. Good thing!
  • voter (22/03/2016, 12:48) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Big project = big "overages"
  • Boo (23/03/2016, 23:18) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Greedy guts has cookie crumbs all over his face. Looks like the Anguillian has been back in the cookie jar when he thought no one was looking.


Create a comment


Create a comment

Disclaimer: Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) welcomes your thoughts, feedback, views, bloggs and opinions. However, by posting a blogg you are agreeing to post comments or bloggs that are relevant to the topic, and that are not defamatory, liable, obscene, racist, abusive, sexist, anti-Semitic, threatening, hateful or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be excluded permanently from making contributions. Please view our declaimer above this article. We thank you in advance for complying with VINO's policy.




Weather


Follow Us On

Disclaimer: All comments posted on Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) are the sole views and opinions of the commentators and or bloggers and do not in anyway represent the views and opinions of the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Virgin Islands News Online and its parent company.