Spirit of British Columbia (Photo credit: BC Ferries)
Spirit of British Columbia (Photo credit: BC Ferries)

BC Ferries' Largest Ship Set for LNG Conversion

BC Ferries has removed Spirit of British Columbia from service ahead of its planned mid-life upgrade and conversion to dual-fuel capability. It is expected back in service next spring.

The vessel, which normally works the busy Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route between Vancouver and Victoria in the Canadian province of British Columbia, is set to begin a 42-day voyage to the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, under a $140mn contract awarded last summer that will see it and its Spirit Class sister ship, Spirit of Vancouver, refurbished and converted to use either LNG or ultra-low sulphur marine diesel as fuel. 

Spirit of Vancouver will undergo a similar conversion beginning in autumn 2018, becoming the fifth BC Ferries vessel with dual-fuel capability.

In the past nine months, the publicly-owned corporation has taken delivery of three intermediate class ferries, Salish Eagle, Salish Orca and Salish Raven, all of which were built at Remontowa under a $165mn contract awarded in 2014. The entire Salish Class project was budgeted at $252mn, including financing and project management costs.

“Last fiscal year, we spent approximately $100.2mn on diesel of which the two Spirit Class vessels consumed approximately 15.5%,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ vice president of engineering: “LNG costs significantly less than marine diesel. The conversion of the two largest ships in the fleet along with the three new dual-fuel Salish Class vessels will go a long way to help both our environmental footprint and with fare affordability for our customers.”

The conversion of the two Spirit Class vessels to LNG service is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 12,000 metric tons (mt) annually, the equivalent of removing 2,500 vehicles from the roads, while the Salish Class vessels are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 9,000mt per year. LNG will be supplied from FortisBC’s LNG plants in Delta, on the Lower Mainland, and Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. FortisBC supplied $10mn in incentive funding for the Spirit Class upgrades and conversions and $6mn in incentive funding for the Salish Class construction projects.

In addition to the LNG conversions, the Spirit Class mid-life upgrades will include refurbishments to the passenger areas, renewal of navigation equipment and propulsion equipment and the installation of more energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning systems.


Dale Lunan


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