LNG issue

Fuel problems cause further delay to ferry delivery

Glen Sannox
Glen Sannox is undergoing sea trials but delivery has been pushed back again

Delivery of a CalMac ferry being built at the troubled Ferguson Marine shipyard has suffered a further delay caused by its fuel system.

It means it will not be brought into service during the summer season, creating more disappointment for islanders.

John Petticrew, the interim chief executive at the yard, told ministers the MV Glen Sannox, currently undergoing sea trials, will now be handed over at the end of July instead of May or June.

There had been hopes that it would be pressed into serving the Arran to Ayrshire route in August but this now looks unlikely given the time required for crew to be adequately trained.

Mr Petticrew was parachuted into the hot seat after the sacking of David Tydeman who warned of further delays in the delivery of the vessel just before his controversial exit.

In a written note to the Scottish parliament’s net zero, energy and transport commitee, Mr Petticrew said there had been delays in fitting the liquefied natural gas (LNG) system.

He said: “An underestimation of complexity, the degree of difficulty of the installation, the lack of available expert knowledge and qualified resources in the UK in relation to marine LNG systems, had disappointingly contributed to further slippage in the progress we have been able to make in the last few weeks.”

The Glen Sannox and its sister ship the Glen Rosa are the first ferries built in the UK which will be capable of running on LNG but regular problems with the system have raised questions about the decision to fit it.

While it was seen as forward thinking and in line with the green agenda, sceptics believe the ships would have been in service years ago if a more conventional design had been chosen.

It had been hoped that fitting LNG would create a local source of supply. Instead the LNG will have to be imported from Qatar to a terminal in Kent, then driven 460 miles to Scotland by diesel road tankers. Each ship will need to be topped up with LNG once or twice a week.

Both vessels are six years behind schedule and the bill for building them at the Port Glasgow yard has rocked to three times the original £97 million price tag.

Mr Petticrew said that the Glen Sannox should cost between £145.5m and £149.1m. Glen Rosa is due for delivery in September next year.

Graham Simpson, the Scottish Conservative transport spokesman, said: “This latest delay is yet another huge blow to Scotland’s betrayed island communities.

Graham Simpson
Graham Simpson: another huge blow

“It means that — after testing — another whole summer season will have gone by without desperately needed new CalMac vessels being in operation, thanks to the SNP’s monumental incompetence.

“That’s another peak holiday season for hotels, restaurants and businesses completely at the mercy of a decrepit fleet that simply can’t be relied upon.”

Mairi McAllan, Scotland’s economy, net zero and energy secretary said: “Today’s confirmation of further delays to Glen Sannox is unacceptable and disappointing, in particular for our island communities and users across the ferry network.

“However, I am pleased the interim [chief executive] considers this to be the final position, with no further delays expected and confirmation that cost forecasts remain the same.

“I will continue to impress on both him and the Ferguson Marine board the importance of ensuring both ferries enter service as soon as possible.”

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