A Ventia project at the South Island's largest port is helping boost the port's capacity to export Canterbury's world-famous beef, lamb and other agricultural products to the rest of the world. 

Ventia has been on-site at the New Zealand-based Lyttelton Port since October 2022, completing a comprehensive electrical fit out of four new 'reefer' refrigerated container towers complete with air conditioning, communication, and security systems, as well as building two new electrical substations.  

The multi-million-dollar upgrade, completed at the start of May, has doubled the port's refrigerated shipping container capacity and will enable further expansion as the port upgrades to meet future requirements.

Each tower can supply 100 refrigerated shipping containers, each equipped to chill or freeze its contents at the optimum temperature to ensure they arrive at overseas ports in prime condition.

Ventia Electrical Site Supervisor Blake Porteous says seeing the first three towers operational and in use as soon as they were handed over was satisfying.

One or two days later the towers were three-quarters full. Seeing them fill up that quick just makes you appreciate that we've delivered this on time and it's successful.

Blake says completing the first three towers on time was vital because the port required them urgently and would have incurred significant additional costs if temporary storage had been required elsewhere.


Overcoming weather and safety challenges to complete the Lyttelton Port project

In addition to time pressures, other challenges Ventia had to overcome included price increases due to COVID-19, as well as procurement difficulties due to ongoing disruptions to global shipping and supply chains.

Lyttelton Port is exposed to the weather and the port's safety rules require work to cease during high winds. This element, in addition to working at height and around heavy machinery, added further dimensions that the Ventia team had to carefully navigate to deliver the project on time.

Blake says the project was completed without any lost time injuries or significant incidents occurring. The towers and high voltage substations Ventia has installed will serve the port well into the future, leaving a lasting legacy for the shipping in the region, he says.

The project was a team effort with Southern generation and distribution teams, cable jointers, power technicians and subcontractors all involved.


A team effort

Ventia Project Manager Oscar Jr Balila says the project was a team effort, with up to 26 people on site at any one time including Southern generation and distribution teams, cable jointers, power technicians and subcontractors.

Oscar has managed a variety of key international projects in his years but says he will look back on the Lyttelton Port work with immense satisfaction.

When I grow old, I can drive out with my son or future grandchildren to look out over the port and tell them I was part of the project. I'm proud of what we've done.