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Plan in works to turn Marystown Shipyard into aquaculture service hub

St. John's businessman Paul Antle, owner of Newdock, has signed an agreement in principle with Peter Kiewit and Sons to purchase the old shipyard portion of its operations in Marystown. - Southern Gazette file photo
Marbase Marystown Inc. is proposing to turn the Marystown Shipyard site into an aquaculture service hub. - Southern Gazette file photo

Town of Marystown has template agreement in place to buy facility from Peter Kiewit

MARYSTOWN, N.L. – Another effort is in the works to get people back working at the Marystown Shipyard site.

If things work out, however, the plan is to use the facility to service the aquaculture industry, not to build or repair ships.

Mayor Mayor Sam Synard said the town has been in negotiations to buy the shipyard assets and land with site owner Peter Kiewit for roughly three months.

“We’ve got a template agreement in place,” Synard told The Southern Gazette on Thursday, Aug. 9.

“Kiewit has signed the agreement. We haven’t signed off on it yet because there’s still some more due diligence we need to do.”

According to Synard, however, Marystown council intends to sign the agreement and financing is in place to buy the facility.

At the same time, parallel discussions have been taking place with Marbase Marystown Inc. to lease the property long-term, he said.

In an internal document leaked to some media outlets in the province, it was revealed Pluto Investments Inc., a Newfoundland-based private equity company owned by Paul Antle, and Amar Group AS, a Norwegian company founded by Bjorn Apeland, have partnered to create Marbase.

The document said the company plans to turn the facility into a “fully-integrated aquaculture service hub.”

Apeland founded and was a former owner of Steinsvik, one of the largest service providers to the aquaculture industry in the world.

The operation will be the first of its kind in Canada, the document states, and will provide comprehensive services offerings to the aquaculture industry in the Atlantic region.

“Marbase will bring together key suppliers to enhance the industry’s supply chain efficiency, enable access to key resources, improve advanced technology transfer, and move Canada’s aquaculture production towards a more modern, sustainable and efficient future,” the document states.

“The fully-integrated hub will also improve access to core competencies in technical disciplines demanded by the industry.”

Synard said whether the development happens largely depends on if Grieg NL’s proposal to operate an Atlantic salmon hatchery in Marystown, along with sea farms in Placentia Bay, receives environmental approval from the provincial government.

“This is probably our best chance to get the shipyard used for employment purposes, although it’s not directly related to shipbuilding or ship repair,” he said.

The town is unable to divulge terms of the deal with Kiewit, Synard said, but would “probably look at releasing some details once it’s all said and done.”

The mayor said council has given the plan to buy the shipyard a lot of thought and has also received a lot of advice.

“This whole process is doable, but it’s really contingent to the province giving the green light to Grieg Seafarms, in particular,” he said.

“We’re dealing with reputable business people who have experience and have resources, have money, right. I’m convinced this can work, but we need a bit more time to put it all together.”

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