The BC Ferries Commissioner has approved BC Ferries’ application to convert its two largest vessels, the Spirit of Vancouver Island and the Spirit of British Columbia, to dual fuel, as well as to proceed with the mid-life upgrades of the vessels.
By using LNG instead of marine diesel fuel, as well as making some hull modifications, BC Ferries expects to save approximately CAD 9.2 million (USD 8.16m) per year over the remaining 27-year life cycle of the two vessels.
“This is a huge step forward to help address fare affordability, as using LNG will greatly reduce our operating expenses on these two vessels,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering. “LNG also offers significant environmental benefits, cutting carbon emissions by about 25 per cent, sulphur oxides by almost 100 per cent and nitrogen oxides by 85 per cent, which translates into much cleaner exhaust emissions than diesel fuel.”
In addition to converting the two Spirit Class vessels to LNG, BC Ferries is also building three, dual fuel intermediate class vessels scheduled for delivery in 2016 and 2017. These ships will operate in the Southern Gulf Islands and on the Powell River — Comox route.
BC Ferries spent CAD 126 million (USD 111.8m) on fuel last fiscal year and the two Spirit Class vessels consume approximately 15 per cent of the fleet total. BC Ferries claims that converting these ships to LNG will reduce their cost of fuel by approximately 50 per cent.
The Spirit of Vancouver Island’s LNG conversion and mid-life upgrade is planned from the fall of 2016 through the spring of 2017. The Spirit of British Columbia’s project is planned to occur from the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018.
BC Ferries is presently conducting a worldwide procurement process to select a prime contractor and the dual fuel propulsion equipment supplier. The company plans to make a selection not later than the second quarter of 2015.