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The port may be getting a gas station for cargo ships

Wolverine Terminals intends to build a marine fuelling service for the Port of Prince Rupert

A marine fuelling station has been proposed to service large vessels travelling to and from the port.

Wolverine Terminals announced on Friday, Sept. 8, that it intends to construct and operate Prince Rupert Marine Fuels located south of Westview Wood Pellet Terminal. The absence of a marine fuelling station in Prince Rupert takes some of the competitive edge off the port. Currently, cargo ships must carry enough fuel for a round trip or they must fuel up at another west coast port.

“Prince Rupert has the shortest distance to key Asian markets and that advantage is eroded because marine vessels have to fuel up before and after,” said Ken Veldman, public affairs director for the Port of Prince Rupert.

One example of how the port’s geographic advantage is eroded by the lack of service is if a vessel is taking on extra fuel in Asia before sailing to Prince Rupert it has to take less cargo.

“While it’s a small service, it has potential impact on the capability of Prince Rupert to provide new services and enhance its volume growth,” Veldman said.

The off-shore facility will have a 135 metre long rail barge that will take up to 24 rail tank cars from CN’s Aquatrain loading ramp. The barge will have the capacity of approximately 10,000 metric tonnes. The second barge will be 82 metres in length for fuel distribution with the capacity of 4,800 metric tonnes. The rail barge, once loaded with rail cars, will move 400 metres to the mooring location.

Wolverine’s terminal is proposed to be at the former site of SMIT’s tug operation, a water lot that is within the port authority’s jurisdiction. Veldman added that an inner harbour location provides the most protection within the port for fuel barge moorage, and the site minimizes fuel barge travel to and from the Aquatrain reducing interaction with other traffic.

Residents living along Graham Avenue will see little, if any, of the facility, said Serge Bisson, president of Wolverine Terminals.

“We have looked up lessons learned of projects in that specific area and looking at concerns from that area and those mitigations will be unrolled in public process, including sound, light and smell,” Bisson said.

Wolverine is an Alberta-based company that expects its Prince Rupert facility to create 13-14 full time jobs, with a desire to hire locally.

“We’re excited about the project and we have a high probability of moving forward and operational by mid-2019,” he said, as long as the proposed project meets regulatory approvals from the port authority and other relevant federal agencies.

The first community open house is tentatively planned for mid-October.

A rendering of the proposed fuel distribution barge to be located south of the pellet terminal in the Prince Rupert harbour. (Contributed)