Coastline, British Columbia (file image/pixabay)
Amid increasing signs that liquified natural gas (LNG) as marine is getting ready to offer a viable alternative to oil-derived fuel, Canadian energy distribution company Fortis BC has said there are real growth opportunities for LNG bunker fuel.
Fortis has an established relationship supplying the LNG-fuelled ships of ferry company BC Ferries from its Tilbury LNG plant on Canada's west coast. In addition, it supplies fuel to Seaspan Corp's BC fleet of LNG freight ferries.
Sarah Smith, the company's director of natural gas for transportation at Fortis, sees huge opportunities for growth in coastal shipping as well as passenger ferries.
"We need to build out a bunkering jetty at Tilbury to be able to fill bunkering vessels there," Smith was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.
For BC Ferries, which runs four LNG ferries in the West Coast province, lower operating costs have been a major pull of the alternative fuel.
"The fuel costs to operate on LNG is approximately half of what it cost to operate on ultra-low sulfur marine diesel," BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall was quoted as saying.
However, although the necessary bunkering infrastructure is starting to fall into place, the pro-LNG argument has been deflected by the debate on greenhouse gas emissions(GHG) and shipping.
A recent report from non-governmental organisation Transport & Environment has pointed out that the impact of the alternative marine fuel on the sector's GHG output would be marginal.