British Columbia Ferry Services (BC Ferries) has shortlisted three shipyards for the mid-life upgrade (MLU) and LNG conversion of its Spirit-class vessels.
The selected shipyards are Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, Remontowa in Poland, and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.
The ferry operator will hold negotiations for the next three to five months in order to chose the final bidder.
BC Ferries is planning to carry out the upgrades for the Spirit of Vancouver Island in late 2016 through to early 2017, while the upgrade of Spirit of British Columbia will be in 2018.
However, the company has postponed the programme for one year to ensure sufficient equipment procurement lead times, detailed engineering and necessary regulatory approvals, and to perform additional financial due diligence.
BC Ferries Engineering vice-president Mark Wilson said: "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.
"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."
This change in the schedule will help BC Ferries obtain even more technical clarity and commercial certainty, the company stated.
Last year, the company invested around $125m on fuel, and the two Spirit-class vessels consumed approximately 15% of this. Thus, the conversion work is intended to bring operational savings and environmental benefits to BC Ferries.
The contract for these projects is expected to be awarded later this year.