B.C. government joins LNG bunkering push

B.C. government joins LNG bunkering push
Illustration purposes only (Image courtesy of Port of Vancouver)

The Canadian province of British Columbia has teamed up with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and FortisBC to establish the first ship-to-ship LNG bunkering service on the west coast of North America. 

The province said in its statement said the move is aimed at addressing the increased need for liquefied natural gas in the maritime sector.

The use of LNG to power the world’s ocean-going vessels is forecast to expand, the statement reads.

According to industry standards, replacing diesel fuel with LNG has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by approximately 20 percent.

Because FortisBC’s Tilbury facility runs on clean B.C. electricity, LNG produced there could reduce GHG emissions in marine shipping by up to 26 percent. LNG-fuelled vessels have a significantly reduced risk of a spill compared to those that use heavy fuel oil or diesel.

Initial findings from a study done by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for FortisBC show that a five-year construction period for LNG bunkering infrastructure could facilitate the creation of a cumulative 14,000 full-time equivalent person-years of employment over the duration of the build and contribute a cumulative $1.8 billion to provincial gross domestic product. Once fully operational, a bunkering industry could have an annual economic impact of $930 million and facilitate about 3,170 full-time equivalent person-years of employment.

B.C. is making a $25,000 contribution to the PwC study to fund environmental and social impacts analyses and a competitiveness assessment. The study is also building on work already done on risk, safety and demand.

“We are encouraged by the initial projections,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “It is expected that LNG-powered ships — specifically container, car carrier and cruise vessels — could begin calling in Vancouver as early as 2020, and global demand is expected to exceed nine million tonnes (23 million cubic metres) of LNG annually by 2025. B.C. should be ready to get some of that business,” he said.

Five BC Ferries vessels and two Seaspan cargo ferries are fuelled with LNG from FortisBC, via truck. This proposal would expand to develop ship-to-ship bunkering so that large vessels can be fuelled from a fuelling vessel that fills up at an on-shore jetty at Tilbury Island on the Fraser River.

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