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Antarctica New Zealand Board To Consider Scott Base Redevelopment Project Options

Published: Wed 5 Jun 2024 06:02 PM
The future of the troubled Scott Base redevelopment project will be considered by Antarctica New Zealand's board of directors this month after expected costs snowballed to almost $500 million.
Work was supposed to start on the redevelopment last year but the government agency failed to reached a commercial agreement with the preferred main contractor for the project, Leighs Construction. The research station plans have been on hold since then.
The project came with an initial price tag of $250 million but that figure has since blown out to $498m.
In a statement posted online, Antarctica New Zealand said it was investigating ways of delivering the project to fit within the $498m budget, in order to prepare a revised business case for the cabinet.
"The board engaged external support to conduct an options analysis and established an external panel to provide further advice on these options and the project. This work has been completed and will be reviewed by the board this month," Antarctica New Zealand said.
"Antarctica New Zealand will prepare a revised business case for cabinet's consideration once a way forward for the project has been determined. Further planning and design work may be required to feed into the business case, depending on the nature of the decision."
The government allocated $22m for the redevelopment of Scott Base in last week's budget so Antarctica New Zealand could maintain its existing project team and complete the revised business case.
Unspent funding was transferred to a "tagged contingency with future draw-down subject to cabinet approval", a document said.
An Antarctica New Zealand spokesperson said they had already prepared three business cases for the Scott Base project - in 2016, 2019 and 2021.
Plans included relocating long-term science experiments, the refurbishment of existing infrastructure to support the construction phase, the upgrade of the Ross Island Wind Energy system and the design and construction of a main base.
The new base was to be built at Timaru's port, separated into eight modules and shipped to Antarctica.
Antarctica New Zealand said planning for the summer season was underway, with a focus on upgrading the wind system and main base construction activity which would be required regardless of the final design and construction method.
Most of the work to relocate long-term science experiments and existing infrastructure modifications had been completed, Antarctica New Zealand said.
Scott Base was built for New Zealand's participation in the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition and was officially opened in 1957.
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