JULY 9, 2015 — Canada's BC Ferries announced today thatit has shortlisted three shipyards, including one British Columbia yard, for the mid-life upgrades of its two Spirit Class vessels, which include converting the vessel's to dual-fuel operation so they can burn liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards, Remontowa SA of Poland and Fincantieri of Italy have been shortlisted from the five shipyards that responded to BC Ferries request for proposals process. Over 20 national and international shipyards expressed interest in the initial stages of the procurement process.
Over the next three to five months, BC Ferries will continue to negotiate with the three proponents to select the final bidder.
BC Ferries also said that it is pushing back its target for completion of the upgrades by one year.
Originally, the company was planning for the makeover of Spirit of Vancouver Island to occur in the fall of 2016 through the spring of 2017 and the Spirit of British Columbia's project the following year. Now, though, it says it is "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."
It says this will allow it "to obtain even more technical clarity and commercial certainty, while regaining program schedule contingency."
"Due to the complexity of this major 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 and these ships are critical to our operation so project management and risk mitigation are extremely important."
BC Ferries expects to award a contract for the Spirit Class mid-life upgrades and conversions to the successful bidder by the late fall of 2015.
With the new schedule, BC Ferries is planning for the Spirit of British Columbia to be the first ship through the upgrade and LNG conversion process and commence actual conversion from the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018, with the Spirit of Vancouver Island to follow the following year, from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.
BC Ferries says it is committed to converting to more environmentally friendly fuel sources that are cost effective. Last fiscal year, BC Ferries spent approximately $125 million on fuel of which the two Spirit Class vessels consumed approximately 15 per cent. The conversion of the two largest ships in the fleet to dual-fuel, along with the entry into service o fthree new intermediate class vessels which will use LNG, will lead to operational savings and environmental benefits.
Spirit of British Columbia was built in 1993, with the Spirit of Vancouver Island following a year later. The 167.5 m ships each have a car capacity of 410 (including 34 semis) and a passenger and crew capacity of 2,100 people.