BC Ferries awards $165-million contract for LNG-powered vessels to Poland

BC Ferries has awarded a Polish firm a $165-million contract for three new vessels — the first in its fleet to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Preliminary design of LNG-powered ferries to be built in Poland.

BC Ferries has awarded a Polish firm a $165-million contract for three new vessels — the first in its fleet to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Remontowa Shipbuilding scored the contract after the only B.C.-based shipyard — Vancouver’s Seaspan — shortlisted for the bid dropped out, the ferry service announced July 3.

The entire project is budgeted at $252 million with $51 million allocated to cover taxes and federal import duties when the ferries are delivered to the West Coast beginning in August 2016.

The last ferry is scheduled to arrive in February 2017, while all three will be able to run on either diesel or LNG.

BC Ferries vice-president of engineering Mark Wilson told Business In Vancouver he expects up to seven vessels of this particular class to be operating in the fleet within the next few years.

He said the bidding processing did not come down entirely to dollar figures. Rather, BC Ferries was drawn to Remontowa’s bid due to their experience with LNG-powered vessels.

He said the dual-fuel capable vessels offer lower fueling costs and reduced environmental impacts.

Wilson said the company spent $126 million on diesel fuel last year but —based on numbers crunched internally — the LNG-powered ferries could cut that cost in half.

He added the cost-savings associated with the ferries is not dependent on whether the proposed LNG boom being touted by the B.C. government comes to fruition.

The ferries will replace aging vessels that sail between Comox and Powell River, and Tsawwassen and the Gulf Islands.

The new ferries will be 105 metres in length, and capable of holding 145 vehicles and 600 passengers.

Among the provisions signed with Remontowa is an agreement stating the shipbuilder will have to pay a $20,000 a day penalty if the ships are more than two weeks late. The penalties max out at $6 million, but BC Ferries can rescind the contract and get a full refund if the ships are six months late.

torton@biv.com

@reporton