Building on Mobility

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Building on Mobility pp 60-61

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With an impressive portfolio of construction works in Faroe Islands alongside projects in Iceland and Greenland, J&K Petersen Contractors have a strength in their flexibility — and a competitive edge in dredging off the coast of Norway.

Anyone who visits the Faroe Islands will quickly notice a stunning amount of public works and modern buildings relative to the country’s tiny population. The sight of this, along with the experience of a modern transport system, is a constant reminder that the art of construction is very much alive and well in this country.

There are currently as many as 18 road tunnels — as many as there are inhabited islands. The most central islands have been interconnected through a well developed road infrastructure that includes two giant underwater tunnels, with an additional two in the pipeline to further expand and consolidate the ‘Main Area’ with the idea, ultimately, to tie all of the larger populated islands together by fixed link.

Now, the biggest tunnel to date is the Norð­oyatunnilin, a 6.3-kilometer piece of underwater highway between the town of Leirvík, on the island of Eysturoy, with the country’s second-largest town of Klaksvík, on the island of Borð­oy. It was built by a consortium of NCC Construction Norway, NCC Construction Denmark and J&K Petersen Contractors, one of the leading construction companies of the Faroe Islands.

Originally founded in 1948 as a trucking firm turned building contractor by the mid 1970s, J&K Petersen has gradually evolved to what it is today — an independent, well-equipped construction company with its own fleet of heavy machinery and trucks including, for example, a cement mixing factory, a split barge and a backhoe dredger vessel.

The company has been involved in a significant portion of all major works undertaken in the Faroe Islands in recent years. Completing Vagar Airport’s runway extension implied, for example, blasting and moving 1.7 million cubic meters of rock and earth. Other high-profile projects of late have included harbors, bridges, industrial facilities, warehouse and office buildings, healthcare facilities, schools, and residential buildings.

“We’re good at completing projects in a short time with an efficient and flexible staff,” says CEO Stein Olvur Petersen. No one would argue there, as J&K Petersen are indeed known to be quick, reliable and able to deliver.

But what’s their main competitive advantage? According to Mr. Petersen himself, the company’s flexibility and mobility is largely based on a mix of experience, expertise and technology. “We’re a powerful team of specialists that covers a wide area of expertise,” he says. “We can go anywhere at short notice.”

Dredging in Norway: With a stable employee base, J&K Petersen has been doing well in good times and bad. “I think it’s in our backbone to be very effective and competitive. We’re always looking for ways to improve and find new ways of solving problems and work smarter. Having the right kind of people is key — every one of our employees is a specialist in his or her own right. Also you need state-of-the-art equipment and technology, as well as key facilities such as a sizable maintenance hall. We’ve been fortunate to a find balance that combines these requirements with a strong safety culture and the best available cloud-based technology for project management.”

Building and maintaining harbor facilities is one of J&K Petersen’s specialties and the company has been involved with most harbor deepening projects and major developments undertaken by Faroese ports in the last few decades, so much so that a growing number of contracts has been signed with clients from neighboring countries.

“We purchased dredging equipment in the mid 1990s and have made good use of it,” Mr. Petersen adds, with a reference to J&K Petersen’s acquisition of three dredger vessels—split barge Siri, backhoe pontoon Pollurin and blast drilling pontoon Borarin.

Among the contracts won during that period was the expansion of the Port of Grindavík, Iceland. Shortly after its completion, contracts in Greenland followed.

Back in the Faroes, the new container terminal at Kolla­fjørður, part of the Port of Tórs­havn, was completed a few years ago.

Of late, much of the dredging work has been taking place in the fjords of Norway.

“We are very pleased to work with the Norwegians and they seem to appreciate our services to the extent that we’ve been fully booked there for a long time,” Mr. Petersen says. “The Siri offers some great advantages and its hopper can hold the equivalent of 30 truck loads yet the boat’s fuel consumption equals that of only one truck. We can do high-precision work using GPS technology and the boat can access extremely shallow waters.”