Site C contractor consents to receivership, raising more questions on project contract & bids

It was over a year ago that I first reported on the difficulties facing Site C contractor, Petrowest… and the oddity of the company being qualified to even be awarded a contractor.

In November 2015, the BC Government and BC Hydro awarded a $1.5 Billion contract to the Peace River Hydro Partners, of which Petrowest Corporation is included.

Yet curiously by December 2015– just a month after this Site C contract was awarded – the Financial Post was reporting that Petrowest was operating on borrowed time from its lenders:

After unsuccessfully finding a resolution to their financial woes, last week the  Site C consortium – Peace River Hydro Partners – handed them a termination notice. Long story short, Petrowest could not come up with their portion of the money required for their contract.

Late Sunday, Petrowest released this:

CALGARYAug. 13, 2017 /CNW/ – Petrowest Corporation (“Petrowest” or the “Company”) (TSX:PRW) announces that the Company’s banking syndicate have provided a notice demanding immediate repayment of all amounts owing under the credit facilities. The Bridge Loan from subordinated lenders arranged on May 19, 2017 is fully drawn and no additional sources of credit or funding are available. Accordingly, the Company’s Board of Directors have consented to the appointment of a receiver and intend on resigning immediately upon such appointment.

The banking syndicate intends to file an application with the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta to place the Company into receivership and appoint Ernst & Young as receiver (the “Receiver”). The application is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday August 15, 2017 and court approval is expected. The Receiver will be charged with managing the day to day affairs of the Company during the period of appointment and should be contacted with respect to any questions concerning the assets and liabilities of Petrowest.

It’s one thing for a company like Petrowest to get tossed a lifeline… which in essence this contract should have been. But their participation in the consortium raised a number of questions over the weekend, including how it was they were considered ‘qualified’ in the first place.

Further questions brought forward over the weekend were raised by a reader in the legal field:

Screenshot 2017-08-14 at 9.55.14 AM

Great questions… and ones perhaps Rich Coleman, Mike Bernier, Pat Pimm, former premier Christy Clark, former Energy minister Bill Bennett and former BC Hydro ceo Jessica McDonald might have insight to?

Rick Quigley has strong ties in Fort St. John as a resident, which former Premier Clark touted loudly when the contract was awarded. He was also involved in another failed venture here on Van Isle, via Mariners Village:


Of course, Bob Mackin tried to find out more about this contract… but couldn’t under FOI. ( So much for bringing back transparency to government Ms. Clark)

Quigley is also said to have hands in at least one or more numbered companies to fall back on, when Petrowest falls through.

The NDP minister so far has chosen not to say anything on all this, because of the BCUC review – frankly the two are separate issues in my opinion. And the news of Petrowest bolsters the concern over the complete lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to decisions made on Site C. 

We know that on the eve of the election, an increase to the budget was rubber stamped by Brad Bennett, a BC Hydro director who went on to campaign with Clark on her campaign bus:  The amount and why, are secret.

We know that BC Hydro censored the Site C budget and spending, from a report kept secret during the election:

Oddly enough, on the day news came out that Peace River Hydro Partners had given notice of termination to Petrowest, Legislative reporter/ columnist Keith Baldrey tweeted this:

Followed by a RT from Mike Smyth:

And neither has since tweeted any mention or link to the news of Petrowest, despite Business in Vancouver and Energeticcity both doing stories on it.  Even Vaughn Palmer has been silent on this development. ( as of the time of this post none had mentioned it on Twitter, or written of it)

Considering all three have regularly commented & tweeted on most Site C  developments, the lack of comment in the days since, was glaring.

Thankfully Alaska Highway News to the rescue and they have a great report out today, with comments and more questions from another in the legal field as well:

One can only guess where this will all end up as we all wait for the BCUC review underway. The decision to halt the construction or not rests in the hands of the BC NDP cabinet. Details of the BCUC review  and a link to the BCUC itself can be found here:

What the BCUC can’t answer, are the questions asked above. And it is long past due for some transparency from BC Hydro on the project that continues to mimic one of the greatest boondoggles of all time, Muskrat Falls.


** pics I posted online, from earlier this summer when geotech concerns stopped work and resulted in lay offs.

Screenshot 2017-08-14 at 10.55.46 AMScreenshot 2017-08-14 at 10.57.09 AMScreenshot 2017-08-14 at 10.58.19 AM

25 thoughts on “Site C contractor consents to receivership, raising more questions on project contract & bids

  1. What’s the surprise??? all of us in the heavy civil construction industry knew that the only reason PetroWest were on the team was for local content and they are not even local. There is no way they could execute the work with the resources they had at hand.

    Acciona and Samsung needed local content and used PetroWest for that purpose only.

    Go on line and check out PetroWest finances on and that will show they should never have been accepted to participate in the work

    The only contractors who would have been able to execute the work in the schedule wold have been Ledcor, PKS, North American, Aecon and maybe a few Alberta grading contractors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right on Kam. What about BA Dawson, Emil Anderson or may BEL?
      As you say, it stunk from the beginning and this only raises the stink a few more phews. I thought being a partner to this enterprise that they’d be dealt a reprieve, as in bailing them out. Apparently not.
      This should not be the last we hear about this!


  2. That old saying comes to mind; tip of the iceberg.
    I do hope this is the beginning of the floodgates opening on Site C.
    The question now is, how many PetroWest creditors, including employees go unpaid?

    Also wonder if London has room for another round of ex BC politicians.
    Venezuela or Malaysia would be a more fitting exile.

    Flim flam also comes to mind.


  3. Thank you Laila. An ongoing saga. I do hope no stone is left unturned in our quest to make the BC Liberal party accountable. An informed electorate is the backbone of our democracy.


  4. Thank you Laila for your insightful response to a developing story. There are many stones yet to be unturned…..yet I do worry that the new government may choose to leave them there…….


  5. Well, you are no activist, but a seasoned reporter, much to the dismay of one K. Baldry.

    The real embarrassment here is the lack of honest reporting by the MSM and their mouthpieces. Site “C” has been a boondoggle, make work project from day one and that the MSM did not do any due diligence. Fake news and alternative facts is all what Baldry, Palmer and the rest can do on reporting this only shows the sham our dailies are.

    A sad reflection on the fifth estate!

    I think the wooden stake has been pushed through and in a short time, site “C” will go the way of other major fiascos.


  6. I think you’ve nailed it Laila!
    Why would a consortium (of alleged crooks – Samsung and Acciones) pick Petrowest to be a $350 million partner in this $1.75 BILLION venture?
    Petrowest was on shakey financial ground, had little to nothing to contribute and wasn’t even locally (British Columbia) based. There were a number of BC companies with much better cvs from which to draw.

    Why would the BC Government and/or BC Hydro support this rather tenuous alliance?

    How could Petrowest blow this indubitably (undoubtedly?) lucrative, secret relationship to it’s financial distress. And HOW did they manage to get in distress? I would assume as the ‘local’ partner they would have a lot of their front end (profit) reimbursed?

    Is anyone ‘outside’ of this group aware of what this $175,000 million contract involved?
    Was it strictly earthmoving? Were there any other bids received?

    I suppose I could ‘Google’ it, but has there ever been a dirt moving contract this size in Canada?

    Keep up the good work, and us posted. I think there is a lot more to this can of worms.


    1. Tim in regards to 175 M, its on the low side of heavy civil contracts. Teck would spend that in a month at the SE Coal and Highland Valley on excavation.
      The contract was for excavation and embankment with some drainage works.

      Acciona are ruthless and Spain have some of the worlds largest contractors including Ferrovial and Dragados ( ACS)
      They would not even look a project unless its over a Billion Dollars

      I’m not at all against Site C, its the most economical method to produce energy, forget Wind, Coal, NG or Solar. This is the right time to build the project, however BCH did not have the correct personnel managing the contracts or execution. The even had a retired Ministry of Highways employees in executive positions because of a political appointments.

      They needed management and executives that are experienced in business and projects such as Site C

      Jessica McDonald was a career government employee..need I say any more . Charles Reed, the past CEO was a experienced business man from the private sector. Government employees know nothing about private sector business, just pigs at the feed stall.

      THe NDP are doing the same with Joy McPhail but they hired what sounds like a good BCH CEO in Petterson


    1. Thank you r 🙂 I appreciate when you post these for everyone!! You could swap out muskrat falls with site c in this link and it would work fine….ha!


  7. Laila, following your tweets, thank you for trying to stick to the not-fake news. I’m referring to the “Former BC Hydro CEO Calls for Cancellation of Site C Dam” lead and people attributing that to The Jessica.
    People need to keep up.

    Some days it must be hard to not just go plant your face in a tidal pool.

    Thanks again for keeping Site C front and centre.


    1. Trust me….It’s incredibly frustrating that people are reduced to reading a headline and don’t even click on the actual link before making an assumption thats generally wrong…lol

      That being said his submission was excellent and I was pleased to see mention of something I have written and tweeted of often over the last year, breach of fiduciary duty 🙏


  8. Thanks for sticking with this file, Laila; it is as byzantinely complex as was probably always intended, bearing all the hallmarks of its seminal perpetrator Gordon Campbell, including the lesson he learned from the BC Rail corruption scandal that, in addition to the essential neo-right tenets of sabotaging public enterprise and keeping it secret, taught him that the piecemeal approach his government used to beggar BC Hydro and BC Ferries is far more stealthy than the hole-hog method he used to privatize the publicly owned railway. It’s a stark reminder that Campbell’s BC Liberal party, usurped after he smeared its former leader and turning its policies sharply to the right, was never an extension of BC’s traditional right-wing—it was the Socreds, after all, who nationalized both the private ferry and electrical companies, the diametric opposite of the neo-right’s ideological agenda..

    It was good that NDP leader John Horgan campaigned to send Site-C to the BC Utilities commission: he avoided the partisan trap that was in part Site-C’s design; Christy could hardly counter the move by arguing against a review the project should have gotten at the first place—not without looking even more shifty.

    It is good that Horgan has followed through with his campaign promise. We need to see the physical and financial aspects of the project standing alone. The BC Liberals themselves stand to be condemned as malfeasants by this independent commission alone, independent, that is, of partisanship and, whatever the outcome of the review, the new government can thence move ahead swiftly in the interest of all citizens, regardless partisanship.

    Good government, in other words (how long has it been since we could only dream of such a thing!).

    To the new government’s great good fortune, the next step, presuming the BCUC recommends suspending the project after a couple billion has already been spent, also avoids purely partisan contention, that is, to find out why and how such imprudence—or, potentially, malfeasance—happened. If it comes to that, the NDP has yet another opportunity to punt over partisans’ and pundits’ heads by calling for a public inquiry. Of course revelations of actionable breaches of public trust might warrant a third type of inquiry: prosecution in a court of law—again outside the court of partisan opinion.

    The purpose of these investigations is also a nonpartisan one: we need to know how any party in government, not only the BC Liberals, could attempt such a circumvention of fiscal and political mores so we can prevent it from happening again. In this case, if the BC Liberals are exposed as the malfeasants we’ve long suspected them to be, and they’re rendered unelectable as a result, citizens will be apprised of the clear, factual reasons why such perfidy has hurt everybody to some degree, regardless their partisan opinions, and the partisan advantage for the NDP and Greens—maybe even the BC Conservatives—will appear perspectively coincidental.

    Thus we are only midway in terms of distinct chapters of this file: first the neo-right implementation chapter, then their eventual defeat, and now the independent BCUC review of Site-C. Yet, in terms of unraveling whatever perfidy might be hidden in the revelation, we have only just begun to grapple with the more difficult fiscal, legal and political aspects which of course occupy much steeper ground and deal with much dearer stakes; the remaining chapters, though few in number, probably comprise 90% of the work.

    The dept and cogency of your work, Laila, is therefore invaluable to us citizens who are sometimes mystified—often appalled—at the pervasiveness of BC Liberal perfidy. It has been, after all, hidden from us with as much cleverness as possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you for threading it all together for us!

    It’s great to see you back.



  9. the biggest problem we are now facing in this province is ppl like Scotty…supporting the NDP and not caring about our future energy costs and blaming the past gov’t .
    forget the past..hydroelectric is the most economical for of power.
    All the NDP’ers at the coast have no concern for the rest of us residents.
    your all fools…and selfish…free daycare..take the tolls off…free medical.
    Where is the money going to come from?
    I’ve lived through the Clark Harcourt reno’s.
    We need power for the next 50yrs
    all the left wing nay-sayers like this Scotty need to take off your orange glasses and acknowledge tax’s will increase. who do you think make our province a sucess? it’s our logging..sawmills…mines..ranchers..oil and industry..pulp and paper….construction..that’s who pay for everything…not your minimum wage workers in retail and tourism at the coast and the island.

    fix the current site C contactural issues and finish the project. Not shut down only to restart in 4 yrs time


    1. Gosh! If only I could be your biggest problem!
      I really hope taxes do increase.
      I hope we’ll need power for a damn sight longer than 50 years; I know we’ll be using newer technologies by then—hell, a lot sooner: it’s already here.
      I worked in the bush for 30 years and it’s a shadow of what it once was: under the BC Liberals mills have closed across the province. Now we just export logs.
      I don’t have any minimum wage workers. Maybe you’re mistaking me for somebody else.
      And Site-C? Shut it down now—it’s good money after bad that loggers, fishermen and miners have to pay in taxes and hydro bills.
      And no, the workers you cite do not pay for everything: retail and tourism workers pay their share too.
      BTW, I hope you don’t think you’re still getting paid for your screed—the election’s over and sounds like you lost.


  10. Corruption inquiry please.

    Read above post.

    Then read this. And recall the Petrowest PR guy emailed and wanted to speak to me about this post. He said it wasn’t like I made it out to be….give me a break.

    ” company whose officers and directors were top executives of Petrowest, the Alberta company that went bankrupt and was dismissed from Site C’s main civil works consortium, The Narwhal has learned.

    The largest of the contracts, for $10.1 million, was awarded to the numbered company in late July 2017 — just two weeks before Petrowest was dismissed from the consortium for insolvency, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

    BC Hydro confirmed that the contract, for Site C dam “river road remediation and erosion and sediment control,” was completed in 2018 — after other Petrowest assets were seized by the company’s creditors.

    Former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen described the contract as “astonishing” and called on B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer to investigate the award, which was handed out one month after the NDP formed a new provincial government promising increased transparency.

    “It’s unimaginable that you would award a contract to a company that you know is in great financial difficulties because it has been reported extensively in the media,” said Eliesen, who is also the former CEO of Manitoba Hydro and Ontario Hydro.

    “Why didn’t BC Hydro cancel the $10 million direct non-competitive contract to a numbered company [run by] the same people who went into bankruptcy? Where is the fiduciary responsibility by BC Hydro senior management? Something is not right.”

    No kidding.


  11. Aww Laila, your timing is off! April Fool’s is still more than a week away!
    This is way worse than the Quebec Corruption Debacle, which warranted an Inquiry and resulted in numerous convictions and jail sentences. I’ve said it often : We need an inquiry to establish our place as the Most Corrupt Province in Canada! Give credit where credit is due.
    This latest revelation (by Narwhal) defies everything: logic, decency, corruption! What a blatant disregard for the intelligence of the general population. Wake up people! You’ve been and are being had!


    1. Its good to see them get confirmation, because we were talking about Quigley being involved in at least one, if not more, numbered companies at the time, to fall back on.

      That is, as we’ve talked about quite a bit over the years on various stories, a common tactic among many contractors. Limited co gets into trouble, director/s have other limited numbered co to use if first company goes under. Sometimes company equipment used by the insolvent co, is registered to the numbered co so that asset cant be touched. I think I saw it all years ago in a prior career.

      I digress though. The ndp have their hands full defending Hydro decisions here. I do hope someone foi’ed discussions between Clark,Bernier,Quigley and Bennett prior to these announcements.


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