Guess Who Revamped Their Website?

Albert Barbusci and Barry Sheehy, the men behind Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP) and Novaporte, the Sydney harbor container port project, have splashed out on a new website and what a glossy mix of stock photos and wild claims it is.

Before we get into it, though, let’s take a moment to remember how far they’ve come, at least grammatically. Here’s my favorite screen grab from their old site, back when they were Harbor Port Development Partners and had no one to quote but themselves:



I suspect Barbusci and Sheehy are still “cheep” — the new site hasn’t been designed by a local web design company, but rather by GoDaddy Design Services — but they have come a long way in terms of sheer pizazz.

Here’s what now greets you when you land on

Home Page website



Clean energy?

I was struck by Novaporte’s new identity as an “energy” hub, so clicked on “Green Energy and Fuels” to find this ambitious claim plastered over a stock photo of a line of wind turbines at sea:

Windmills at sea, from Novaporte website

This section informed me that Novaporte would be the “greenest” transportation and logistics hub in the Americas:

With carbon neutral operations powered by an onsite waste to energy conversion plant, and plans to leverage Nova Scotia’s unique blend of renewable energy resources to generate green hydrogen to fuel its ships and trains, Novaporte will be the greenest port in North America.

I’d heard about the “onsite waste-to-energy conversion plant,” although I hadn’t realized it was intended to power the entire port. In fact, I’ve written about the waste-to-energy plant at some length, focusing chiefly on the unproven nature of the process employed by Quad City Innovations (QCI), the Michigan company that will apparently set up shop in the “green tech” section of the Novazone logistics park.

In 2019, the Michigan Economic Development Commission (MEDC) approved $60 million in bond financing through the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) to allow QCI to install six waste-to-energy systems in its Livonia, Michigan plant. I contacted the MEDC to ask how that project — scheduled for completion this December — was progressing, and MEDC media and communications manager Otie McKinley told me by email:

The MSF Board approved a bond resolution in September 2019, however, that project never came back to the board for a request for bond approval. That inducement resolution has now expired. It is possible that the company obtained funding through other sources, but the MSF took no further action.

So, that’s encouraging.


What I didn’t know was that Novaporte is also to become a “hydrogen conversion and distribution hub”:

Novaporte’s planned hydrogen facilities will fuel global, national, and regional transportation networks, and provide export capacity for excess regional green energy resources. 

Oddly for Barbusci, he hasn’t issued a press release about these hydrogen facilities which suggests they’re even more imaginary than other aspects of the project, if that is possible.

I also hadn’t realized our mega-port would be “zero carbon” thanks to “Nova Scotia’s wind energy resources, backed by a regional power grid.”

With some of the strongest wind corridors in the world, and a guaranteed supply of affordable hydroelectric power from Newfoundland’s Muskrat Falls, as well as tidal, biomass, and solar energy sources, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton have the clean energy infrastructure and resources to power zero-carbon transportation and logistics networks at a regional, national, and global scale.

This is illustrated with a picture of the “Atlantic Loop,” a proposed $5 billion project that, according to the CBC, would “see more green energy generated in the province, and transmission upgrades in New Brunswick to facilitate the distribution of green energy from Quebec and Labrador.” It would also help Nova Scotia wean itself off coal — which it still uses to generate over 50% of its electricity. I like the idea of greener electricity sooner, but I think Novaporte is being a tad misleading about the stage we’ve reached with this project — especially given ongoing delays at Muskrat Falls.

I’m not sure we’ll be capable of supporting a “zero-carbon” mega-port by 2025, which is when Novaporte is now claiming it will begin operations:

Novaporte screen capture, "Beginning Operations in 2025"

Source: Novaporte website


Small print

As out-there as all this is, the site truly jumps the shark in the Logistics and Rail sections.

The Logistics section is just pictures of massive, imaginary warehouses labeled “Novazone” followed by stock photos of a variety of companies that could be located in a logistics park.

But the Rail section really takes the cake — they’ve literally put the most important information (along with another wild claim) in the small print:



Finally, after listing four “development partners” — SHIP, Membertou Corporate, 13 Mi’kmaq First Nations of Nova Scotia and CBRM (because nothing says “private sector project” like three government partners) — SHIP provides a list of the “strategic partners” in its “consortium.” All these years in, Barbusci is still unable to distinguish between a “partner” and a “company paid for services rendered.” (Or in the case of G&W, a company, now owned by a Toronto private equity outfit, that is paid by the government of Nova Scotia to leave the train tracks in place.)

Do you notice who is not there? Ports America. The actual port operator that had signed on to operate the terminal is no longer listed as a partner.

Nor is Canderel, the Montreal real estate company that was supposed to have been ready to build Novazone.

And MNP is an interesting addition, given it’s the company that was appointed interim receiver for the Alaska to Alberta Railway (A2A), a controversial project bankrolled — as is Membertou’s stake in SHIP — by the troubled Toronto-based private lender Bridging Finance Inc.



And finally, SHIP lays out its “Strategic Stakeholders”:



I immediately spotted the Canada “wordmark,” which SHIP has been asked to remove from its website once before, and since I knew exactly who to ask about it, I emailed the Treasury Board Secretariat to ask if this new use was considered appropriate. As of press time, I had yet to receive a response. (The mark indicates an actual “partnership agreement” with the Government of Canada, back in 2016, SHIP was told to remove the wordmark from its website because it had no such agreement. It doesn’t have one in 2021 either, so watch that space.)

Then, for the heck of it, I emailed the government of Nova Scotia to ask if this was an appropriate use of its logo, given its implication that the province is a partner in this project. Same story on the response, I will update when it comes in.

In the meantime, it will remain in place, along with the logos of CN and Marine Atlantic, attempting to convince the unsuspecting shipper that this is a port that will be open for operations in 2025.

I don’t think they’ll buy it.