MARCH 24, 2015 — Poland's Remontowa Ship Repair Yard S.A. of Gdansk has won a $140 million contract for the mid-life upgrades (MLUs) of BC Ferries two Spirit Class ferries. The upgrade includes converting the ships to dual fuel to enable them to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG).
BC Ferries conducted an extensive competitive bidding process. It says that one Canadian shipbuilder — Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyard — was among the three shipyards shortlisted and invited to participate in the RFP process, but decided to withdraw from the process.
BC Ferries says that Remontowa is the largest ship repair yard in Poland and has a strong record for delivering the required engineering and production capabilities for complex large scale conversion projects on schedule.
"The company is well experienced and proven with LNG fueled ships," says BC Ferries. "All of these elements factored heavily into the decision of contract award."
BC Ferries is planning for the Spirit of British Columbia to be the first ship through the MLU and LNG conversion process and commence actual conversion from the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018, with the Spirit of Vancouver Island going through the upgrade the following year from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019. This schedule will allow for the two vessels, the largest in the fleet, to be in operation during the summer months when traffic is at its peak.
The Spirit of British Columbia was built in 1993 and the Spirit of Vancouver Island was built in 1994. BC Ferries plans to operate these two vessels for another 25 years. Both ships service the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay run, the busiest route in the fleet.
"Last fiscal year, we spent approximately $118 million on diesel fuel of which the two Spirit Class vessels consumed approximately 16 per cent," said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries' Vice President of Engineering. "The conversion of the two largest ships in the fleet along with the three new dual-fuel Salish-Class vessels currently under construction will go a long way to help with fare affordability for our customers as LNG costs significantly less than marine diesel."
"In addition to the financial benefits of LNG, BC Ferries is committed to converting to more environmentally-friendly fuel sources to improve our environmental footprint," said Mr. Wilson "By utilizing LNG to fuel the Spirit-Class vessels, we expect to reduce CO2 emissions by 12,000 tonnes annually, which is the equivalent of taking approximately 2500 vehicles off the road per year."
To help make the project financially viable, BC Ferries pursued funding under incentive programs to help offset any incremental capital costs associated with the use of LNG. The company has signed an agreement, subject to certain conditions, to receive up to $10 million contribution from FortisBC Energy Inc. as part of the Natural Gas for Transportation ("NGT") incentive funding. This funding will be used to partially offset the capital cost of converting our two Spirit Class vessels to dual fuel capability.
In addition to the LNG conversion, safety systems will be renewed or upgraded including the marine evacuation systems, rescue boats, fire detection system, public address system and installation of a local water mist fire protection system.
The passenger areas will receive an interior design refresh including new carpeting, renewed washroom interiors, an additional washroom on Deck 5, expanded gift shop and new coffee bar on Deck 6. Upgrades to the passenger elevators include renewal of mechanical and electrical drive components, emergency communication system as well as upgrades to the electrical and control systems.
Planned renewal of navigation equipment, propulsion equipment components including rudders, steering system, bow thrusters and propeller blades will also occur during the MLUs. Installation of LED lighting and more efficient air conditioning equipment will reduce energy consumption.