Monday, December 5, 2022

Oil for Power

 The Nova Scotia Power Corporation's Tufts Cove Generating Station took a rare delivery of oil today. The facility has relied almost entirely on natural gas since 2000, but has retained the ability to burn heavy oil. (Natural gas from offshore Nova Scotia was used initially, but when that source was shut down in 2018 the Maritimes + Northeast Pipeline has been used to import natural gas from the United States. It joins the US and Canada's pipeline network in Portland, ME.)

The three 500 foot high stacks stand out atTufts Cove on the shores of the Narrows, opposite Pier 9.

The Nova Scotia Light + Power Co Ltd developed the power plant to replace the coal and oil-fired Water Street / Morris Street facility on the Halifax waterfront. NSL+P, a private company, was taken over by the Nova Scotia government in 1971 and folded into the Nova Scotia Power Corp. NSPC itself was privatised in 1992 and is currently owned by Emera Inc.

The German general cargo ship Poseidon tied up at Pier 9C in 1970 when there was only one chimney at Tuft's Cove.

The first of six existing generators on the site was built in 1965 and was designed to burn coal or heavy oil. Subsequent generators #2 (1972) and #3 (1976) were oil only and the the coal capability was removed in 1972 (and may never have been used). Heavy oil (known as Bunker C) was supplied by the Imperial Oil refinery (which closed in 2013) or from other sources in Canada or the US or overseas depending on market conditions.

In 2000 the existing generators were converted for natural gas firing and two gas turbine plants were added in 2003 and 2004. In 2011 a waste heat recovery steam turbine was added which resulted in the present total production capability of 415 MW.

Today's delivery was made by the tanker Ice Fighter arriving from Freeport, Bahamas. (The oil may have originated in Texas.) As the ship's name implies, it is ice classed - a category preferred by its Athens-based operators Dynacom Tankers Management.

Built in 2006 by Onomichi Zosen in Onomichi, Japan, the ship is considered to be a crude oil (or black oil) Long Range 1 (LR1) tanker of 38,832 gt, 70,374 dwt. It does not appear to be fully loaded, so the size of its cargo may be suited to the capacity of storage at Tufts Cove.

The boom in the photo above is at Halifax Shipyard, (smart duck stays outside the boom) however the Ice Fighter will also be boomed off during unloading at Tufts Cove. The NSPC must be very "spill conscious" after 2018 when a faulty pipe allowed 9,400 liters of oil to leak into the harbour. The corporation arranged for a major cleanup and paid a $175,000 fine. (There are several oil tanks on the plant site - at left in top photo - which must be heated to prevent the black oil from solidifying.)

 Tufts Cove is named for Gersham Tufts. Perhaps typically of settler culture, he was granted the land in the area that was the first nation's settlement of Turtle Grove. That community was destroyed and an unknown number of its Mi'kmaq residents died in the Halifax Explosion on December 6, 1917, which occurred within the frame of the photo above. 

The Turtle Grove survivors were banished to reservations and the area was redeveloped for residential occupancy. Some of that was in turn demolished for construction of the power plant, which retained Tufts' name.

The Halifax Public Library has published a capsule history of Turtle Grove, to be found here:


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