Ferry Operator Gets Go-Ahead for LNG Conversions, Aims to Cut Bunker Bill in Half

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Friday November 28, 2014

Canadian ferry operator, BC Ferries, Tuesday announced it has received approval from the British Columbia (BC) Ferry Commissioner to convert its two largest vessels to dual fuel.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island and the Spirit of British Columbia will receive modifications to allow them to run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), as well as hull upgrades.

BC Ferries expects to cut fuel bills for the two ferries in half, saving CA$9.2 million (U.S.$8.1 million) annually from the move. 

"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."

Earlier this year, it was reported that the full upgrades could cost between CA$50 million ($44 million) to CA$60 million ($53 million) per ship.

The operator last year spent CA$126 million (U.S.$111 million) on fuel, of which these two vessels account for around 15 percent.

The LNG conversions will take place between late 2016 and early 2018.

The search for a supplier of the new propulsion equipment is underway, with a decision expected in the first half of 2015.

BC Ferries is also building three smaller LNG-powered newbuild ferries for delivery in 2016 and 2017.