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BC Ferries shortlists three shipyards for Spirit Class mid-life upgrade projects

By BCShippingNews 08 July 2015
Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards in the running...

BC Ferries announced today that the company has shortlisted three shipyards, including one British Columbian yard, for the Spirit Class vessels mid-life 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 mid-life 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 per cent. 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, and the Spirit of Vancouver Island’s to follow the following year from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.

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.