Thursday, May 10, 2012

Record of lethargic indifference

Considering amounts extracted from taxpayers for BC Ferries brilliant management team, imagine the tab if they'd been competent and successful.

David Hahn departed to enjoy one of the most costly pensions ever given a public servant in British Columbia. Behind, he left a faltering operation with declining ridership, mounting financial losses, a deteriorating fleet and zero progress in converting ships to LNG fuel.

Natural gas is in plentiful supply here and use of this relatively clean fuel is being implemented around the world. However, BC Ferries, despite self-proclaimed business savvy, has not been a leader in seeking economic efficiency. Instead, it has been ruled by lethargic indifference.

LNG-fueled systems have higher capital costs but savings and operating improvements result from lower fuel costs, stable fuel supply, low engine emissions, very low noise pollution and longer engine life compared to typical diesel engines.

Norway committed to natural gas fuelled ships in 1996. Glutra, the world's first LNG ferry, was launched 12 years ago and has missed only a handful of days since then due to technical difficulties. In November, Norwegian ferry operator Fjord1 added its largest vessel yet, the 242 car Boknafjord. Further additions are planned to the present fleet of 17 LNG vessels


Bloomberg reported in 2010:
The number of ships powered by liquefied natural gas may jump 10-fold within five years as anti-pollution rules force owners to switch to the cleaner- burning fuel, the industry’s biggest engine maker said.

“LNG is the future for shipping,” Jaakko Eskola, head of ship power at Helsinki-based Waertsilae Oyj, said by phone on Nov. 12 from Shanghai. Between 800 and 1,000 vessels may use the fuel by 2015, up from about 100 today, he said.
BC Ferries is still considering the viability of sailing LNG powered ships.

Wartsila SP B Cruise Ferry
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7 comments:

  1. You will get nothing sensible or practical out of the upper brass at BC Ferries for one reason,they are either incompetent or under the thumb of the backers of the BC Liberals.

    Unfortunely, the BC Ferries is just another BC Liberals "Fustercluck" and should be treated as such, as the BC Liberals have absolutely no clue as to what they are doing in a normal sense.

    If the truth be known, it is pure and simple "SABOTAGE" by the provincial government to appease the party backers and privatize everything in British Columbia.

    Fraud and corruption would be an apt description of what is going on in this province - so where are the RCMP and judiciary system ???

    Thanks

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  2. Excellent points. Instead of running 350 car ferries at one third capacity, or running them infrequently to save fuel, we'd be much better off with smaller ferries running frequently. At peak times now, we short load large ships because too few crew members are on board to meet safety rules. At other times, the ships operate beyond safe capacity and the rules are ignored. Neither is appropriate.

    The incompetence of BC Ferries management at both executive and board levels has been astounding. Political connections mean more than skill in this province. Board members knew that to keep the checks coming in, silence was golden.

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  3. It was the feeling of being an outcast for many years that one got when bringing up the idea of using LNG for things like BC Rail and BC Ferries or even trucks that I remember the most when talking to politicians. As a BC resident and owner of businesses supplying services to natural gas producers, I could never believe that with the abundance of gas in the North that so much would get shipped east when we could use it domestically through a distribution system that has been in place for almost 55 years. What do overpaid geniuses like Hahn do for their money? Wouldn't any Energy minister worth a couple hundred thou a year bend some ears to use domestic Ngas?? Campbell's wasted time on his hydrogen highway should have been put towards using gas that we have available for almost nothing now. I can only deduce that they were too busy lining their nests.

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  4. One other thing not to overlook is the huge value of Norway's Investment fund that is derived from royalties basically. From never having any production prior to 1969 or so and with only a couple hundred wells.
    Amazing what you can save if you want to. BC has been producing gas and oil for much longer from around 15000 wells and hasn't got anything in the bank that I am aware of as we give most of any royalties back to producers through all manner of subsidy/incentive programs. Thanks again Gordon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Intellectual TerroristMay 10, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    I hope David Hahn's 2 pensions are the first things that are cut the second the Fiberals get booted out of office. The over the top compensation was bad enough, the fact he left a ferry corporation in worse shape than when he started is darn right criminal!

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  6. When Bill Good had a segment on BC Ferries today, he brought up the fact that the fuel costs had risen from $40 million to $120 million over the last few years. David Hahn claimed the same thing last year on another discussion on a CKNW show. The thing is that during the time period quoted by Hahn, fuel prices had not even doubled. Thus, for the fuel costs to triple, one has to assume that fuel consumption increased by 50%. When one considers that the only significent changes to BC Ferries operations were the sinking of the Queen of the North and the acquisition of the three new ferries from Germany, one must assume that the new ferries were the cause of the increase in the amount of fuel consumed.

    The thing that irks me about this is that the MSM have just accepted that fuel costs tripled without ever trying to find out why.

    As a matter of fact, I don't believe that the opposition has seen fit to explore this either. Considering that the NDP has had to watch to the BC Liberal Party gain many political points on the failed Fastcats, one would assume they would jump at the chance to turn the tables. And yet, nothing.

    It makes me wonder whether anyone is really capable of minding the store, so to speak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I don't believe that the opposition has seen fit to explore this either..." Nicholas Simons, MLA from Powell River, a ferry dependent town, has spoken frequently about BC Ferries. He doesn't get airtime at BC Liberal Radio.

      I've commented about BCF here repeatedly as have other online writers. But BC Ferries has spent heavily to entertain mainstream media people on golf courses and elsewhere to tell the story they want told. Bill Good is ever obliging, reading the talking points provided him about ferry services. Keith Baldrey would rather put in another 18 holes to get a story than dig through documents obtained through FOI.

      So it is with LNG ferries. Media simply relays news from BCF that conversion is "being studied" and many difficulties must be overcome. Had the ferry corporation used expertise that already exists in BC, we could be world leaders in re-equipping international shipping.

      But, David Hahn was a PR maven, not a transportation expert. He was a phony and it costs us dearly and will for decades to come.

      Delete

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