BC’s marine sector is sailing towards a brighter future

August 29, 2019 by Jas Baweja

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With our recent announcement of a partnership that will see Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) regularly exported to China, we thought to explore the environmental impacts of LNG here in British Columbia (BC), and how it is making waves in the marine transportation sector.

Why LNG? 

LNG is natural gas cooled to a liquid state of minus 162 degrees Celsius, a form in which it takes up 1/600 of the space that conventional gas does. Think of it as shrinking a beach ball down to the size of a ping pong ball. 

By condensing energy so effectively, LNG offers marine transportation companies an economical and reliable fuel for their vessels. Fueling a ship with LNG can be roughly half the cost versus conventional marine fuel, and 20 per cent lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Beyond higher GHG emissions, traditional marine fuels often have additional impacts on the environment. They can release hazardous particulates (tiny drops of solids and liquids in the air) and harmful gases that contribute to smog formation and poor air quality. Using LNG over these fuels reduces these emissions by up to 85 per cent. 

For example, with now five vessels in operation, BC Ferries expects to reduce their overall carbon dioxide emissions by 21,500 tonnes annually by using LNG. That would be the equivalent of taking approximately 4,400 gasoline-powered vehicles off BC roads each year. Seaspan Ferries, a commercial ferry operator, is also on board with two vessels today sailing on LNG and more expected in the future.

The potential for LNG 

Currently, there’s only around 200 ships worldwide that have adopted LNG so far, but the number is growing as the benefits of LNG as a transportation fuel become increasingly apparent.

Currently, there are 3,000 large marine vessels, such as tankers, cruise ships or container ships, arriving at the Port of Vancouver each year. Having just one adopt BC LNG would be the equivalent of removing almost 20,000 gasoline-powered vehicles off BC roads. Furthermore, BC LNG is among the cleanest in the world.

A smart solution ready today

LNG plays an important role in a sustainable future, both as an immediate and attainable way to reduce emissions and as an economic opportunity for the province. We’re all trying to lay a foundation today for a greener tomorrow and, for the marine transportation sector, LNG is a solution that can provide significant environmental benefit at a price operators can afford.