B.C. government to study proposal to build LNG ship-refuelling facility

The B.C. government is getting behind a proposed liquefied natural gas ship-refuelling facility in Delta, as the global reliance on LNG in the shipping industry is expected to increase.

There are currently five B.C. Ferries and two Seaspan cargo ferries getting LNG from the Fortis B.C. Tilbury facility, but they’re refuelled by truck. The idea is to expand that site to make it possible for vessels arriving from around the world to be topped-up with LNG from another ship, supplied at the facility on the Fraser River.

The ship-to-ship facility would be the first of its kind on the West Coast of North America.

The provincial government is putting $25,000 toward studying the environmental and social impacts of the proposal.

New international environmental standards beginning in 2020 will force the shipping industry to reduce the sulfur limit in bunker fuel from 3.5 per cent to just 0.5 per cent. Turning to LNG could be one way the shipping industry could meet that limit.

In a written statement, the B.C. government said replacing diesel fuel with LNG can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent, but that reduction is even steeper when using LNG created using power from the province’s electrical grid, as Fortis is doing at its Tilbury site.

A map found in WesPac proposal documents shows the plan for the LNG facility on the Fraser River in Delta. (WesPac Midstream)

The project proponent, WesPac Midstream, submitted its first documents for the facility with provincial officials in 2015. The environmental assessment is underway. It could be up and running by 2025.

“We are confident in B.C.’s ability to join the global network of ports that deliver clean-burning LNG direct to the ships of the future,” said Premier John Horgan in a written release.

“This will allow B.C. to have a direct impact on global emissions by reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from visiting vessels.”

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