Port of Prince Rupert moves closer to getting marine fueling service

Written by Nick Blenkey
barge will offer fuel service in Port of Prince Rupert

Bow quarter view of rail/terminal barge

The Port of Prince Rupert, B.C., is North America’s closest port to Asia by up to three days sailing—it’s 36 hours closer to Shanghai than Vancouver and over 68 hours closer than Los Angeles.

However, it is one of the only major global ports to not offer marine fueling services for cargo ships. That means ships must carry enough fuel to make a round trip or detour to an alternative West Coast port (including the Port of Vancouver) to fuel.

That problem should be resolved by next year. Calgary-based Wolverine Terminals plans to offer a new marine fuels service in the port of Prince Rupert in 2023 and the project is moving right along. The two main marine assets of the new service will be two marine fuel barges and their designer, Robert Allan Ltd., reports that construction of the pair has now started at Damen Shipyards’ Vietnam yard.

The two barges are unique designs specifically tailored for the site and intended operations. There will be a rail/terminal barge and a distribution barge, handling the following basic operations:

  • Tug assisted transport of the rail/terminal barge between the Aquatrain Terminal and a new Wolverine Terminals mooring site, a distance of approximately 400 meters;
  • Transfer of marine fuel from rail cars into fuel storage tanks located within the rail/terminal barge;
  • Transfer of marine fuel from rail/terminal barge to the distribution barge;
  • Tug assisted transport of the distribution barge between the fuel service mooring site and approved locations within the port; and
  • Transfer of fuels from the distribution barge into large cargo vessels.

Both barge designs have been through detailed risk assessments and class approval to Lloyd’s Register and Transport Canada requirements.

The 12,400 DWT, 142- by 30-meter rail/terminal barge is designed for the loading and storage of multiple tank rail cars and in-hull storage of marine fuels. The design incorporates a double hull, cargo handling equipment, tank heating, spill prevention and recovery equipment, onboard and shore power availability at the operating facilities. The rail/terminal barge design solves many unique challenges in blending the rail and marine industries.

The 4,800 DWT, 78- by 20-meter distribution barge is very similar in design to other marine fuel distribution barges operating in the Port of Vancouver and other west coast ports. The design incorporates a double hull, cargo handling equipment, tank heating, spill prevention and recovery equipment, on-board power generation, and operating facilities.

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