FortisBC LNG making waves in marine transportation

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Sarah Smith, director of natural gas for transportation, regional LNG and Renewable Natural Gas, FortisBC
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FortisBC, one of British Columbia (BC), Canada’s largest energy providers, serves over 1.2 million residential, commercial and industrial customers across the province with natural gas, electricity, propane and other integrated energy solutions including renewable sources.

With a long history of working with customers, government, industry and the public to improve energy efficiency, curb emissions and cut energy costs, we recently announced our most ambitious target yet: our 30BY30 Target, a goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our customer base by 30 per cent by 2030.

A crucial activity for us to achieve our 30BY30 Target is greater adoption of LNG in marine transportation.

FortisBC has been in the LNG business since the 1970s, and in 2017, we partnered with two of the largest local marine transportation organizations operating in the province of BC – BC Ferries and Seaspan Ferries – to fuel seven ferries with LNG through FortisBC’s (and the world’s first) truck-to-ship marine bunkering system. By switching vessels to LNG, our customers have seen their fuel costs halved, and their GHG emissions reduced by up to 26 per cent. In fact, LNG produced at FortisBC’s Tilbury facility actually has a lower lifecycle GHG profile than most other LNG facilities as ours is powered by hydroelectricity.

In 2019, FortisBC worked with the Government of British Columbia government and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the third-largest port in North America, to work on establishing a ship-to-ship LNG marine bunkering service. As the use of LNG to power, the world’s marine vessels is forecast to increase, this pivotal partnership is poised to make BC an LNG bunkering hub for the world’s marine sector.

And the opportunity is significant. Today, approximately 3,000 ships enter the Port of Vancouver every year. Converting just one of these vessels to FortisBC’s LNG would be the emissions reduction equivalent of removing almost 20,000 gasoline-powered vehicles off BC roads. FortisBC has been a long-term member of the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel. To further expand on our commitment to LNG, we recently joined SEA\LNG, a multi-sector industry coalition that aims to accelerate the widespread adoption of LNG as a marine fuel.

While LNG bunkering is a key element of FortisBC’s efforts to drive to a lower-carbon future, the company also is Canada’s first supplier for LNG export. GHG emissions are a global issue. GHG emissions reduced overseas are just as beneficial as those reduced locally, and that’s what we were thinking when we became the first company to produce LNG for export to China in 2017. Approximately 60 ISO containers filled with FortisBC LNG are delivered each week to help China curb its use of heavier carbon fuels such as coal.

We all want a cleaner, healthier tomorrow, and at FortisBC, we are continuing our work towards this goal. LNG affords us an opportunity to help customers make meaningful emissions reductions in marine transportation today while meeting International Maritime Organization standards into the future.

The energy industry has the opportunity to be at the epicentre of the 4th industrial age, harnessing new technologies such as artificial intelligence, opportunities created by the ‘Internet of Things’, and increasing adoption of automation innovation.

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