International yards target BC Ferries conversions

The 'Spirit of Vancouver Island' is one of two ro-ro ferries to be converted to dual-fuel (diesel/LNG) operation, joining three LNG-fuelled newbuilds for BC Ferries The 'Spirit of Vancouver Island' is one of two ro-ro ferries to be converted to dual-fuel (diesel/LNG) operation, joining three LNG-fuelled newbuilds for BC Ferries

Shipyard companies from Canada, Italy and Poland are lining up to convert BC Ferries ro-ro vessels for dual-fuel operation, with a contract to be awarded later this year.

The conversion of the two 167m-long Spirit-class vessels originally drew more than 20 interested parties. The final shortlist comprises Seaspan Vanvoucer Shipyards, Remontowa and Fincanteri.

BC Ferries said it will continue to negotiate with the companies for the next three to five months. The two conversions, along with three LNG-fuelled newbuilds currently under construction by Remontowa, are intended to generate both operational savings and environmental benefits. Last fiscal year BC Ferries spent approximately C$125 million on fuel, of which the two Spirit-class vessels consumed approximately 15%.

The mid-life upgrade and LNG conversion for the Spirit of Vancouver Island was originally planned for autumn 2016 to spring 2017, with the Spirit of British Columbia’s project the following year. BC Ferries said it was deferring the project for one year to ensure sufficient equipment procurement lead times, detailed engineering and necessary regulatory approvals, and perform additional financial due diligence.

“Due to the complexity of this project, we need more time for engineering design to ensure we meet our own high standards for delivering major capital projects on time and on budget,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ vice president of engineering. “The Spirit-class vessels are our biggest assets operating on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route, which is the busiest route in the fleet. These ships are critical to our operation so project management and risk mitigation are extremely important.”

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