Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | December 9, 2013 | Circulation: 280,000+
BC Ferries may soon be fuelled by the province’s abundant liquefied natural gas resources.
On Monday, Victoria issued a request for proposals from five shipyards to build three ferries that can operate on LNG with diesel as backup.
Seaspan was the only Canadian shipyard included in the bid request.
“It’s a way to reduce our operating costs, and to have less of an impact on our environment,” Mark Wilson, vice president of engineering at BC Ferries, told 24 hours of the fuel switch. “It’s a newer technology to BC Ferries, but one that has been in the ferry industry, proven for the last 10 years or so.
“The business case is very sound, the pricing on building diesel versus building LNG was coming in the same, in other cases there a 10% premium on moving to LNG fuel.”
Wilson said the gas would save $120 million annually in fuel costs. The announcement comes three weeks after BC Ferries announced it would slash routes, reduce seniors’ discounts, and consider both LNG power and gambling on board vessels.
New Democrat ferries critic Claire Trevena said the party was pleased one of the five bidders to build the ferries is from British Columbia, but lamented in-province contracts weren’t preferred to keep revenues and job training local.
In comparison, Washington State is converting six existing ferries to LNG at a cost of US$75 million.
Another concern is the province has still not developed its LNG industry.
“They have to build that up at same time as building the ferries,” Trevena said. “It’s going to be very unfortunate if we build LNG ferries but we’ve still not got the infrastructure and they just have to rely on diesel.”