Three shipyards on short list for BC Ferries' Spirit-class upgrade

The following is the text of a news release from BC Ferries:

(VICTORIA, British Columbia) — BC Ferries announced today that the company has shortlisted three shipyards, including one British Columbian yard, for the Spirit-class vessels midlife upgrades including conversion to dual fuel so they can operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, Remontowa SA of Poland and Fincantieri of Italy were 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.

Originally, BC Ferries was planning the midlife upgrade (MLU) and LNG conversion for the 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. However, BC Ferries 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. The one-year deferral will allow BC Ferries 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 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 percent. The conversion of the two largest ships in the fleet to dual fuel, along with the three new intermediate-class vessels which will use LNG, will lead to operational savings and environmental benefits.

With the new schedule, 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. The Spirit of Vancouver Island will follow from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.

BC Ferries expects to award a contract for the Spirit-class midlife upgrades and conversions to the successful bidder by the late fall of 2015.
Under contract to the Province of British Columbia, BC Ferries is the service provider responsible for the delivery of safe, efficient and dependable ferry service along coastal British Columbia.

By Professional Mariner Staff