The long-anticipated Wolverine Marine Fueling Station barges arrived in Prince Rupert Harbour May 16.

According to the Prince Rupert Port Authority, work continues at the terminal to prepare for bunkering operations, which will commence in the coming months.

When the barges become operational, cargo ships travelling to Prince Rupert will be able to refuel before leaving the port. Previously, the hundreds of vessels visiting the port annually had to either travel to Vancouver before heading back overseas or carry enough fuel to make the journey home.

Not having to travel to Vancouver or carry tonnes of extra fuel represents huge cost and/or time savings for large ships.

The floating marine berth began construction in the Prince Rupert harbour in December 2021.

According to Wolverine, the terminal is one of the last pieces of the puzzle for a fast-growing port with the fastest shipping route to Asia in North America.

“In 2020, 537 vessels visited the Port and that number is forecasted to grow. Having a local fuel service will assist in achieving this forecasted growth,” Wolverine said on its website.

“Types of vessels that visit the Port include cruise ships, cargo ships, ferries, fishing vessels and private boats. The scope of this project includes fuel associated with cargo ships and ferries.”

Wolverine’s rail barge will dock at the port’s existing aquatrain docking station, where up to 24 CN rail cars will dock on the 142-metre-long rail barge. From there, the rail barge will empty its fuel into the fuel distribution barge, which is 78 metres long, at the company’s marine terminal.

The fuel distribution barge will then travel to cargo ships that need refuelling. The barges will be towed by tugboat.

According to Wolverine, the marine terminal will have a fuel storage of 12,500 metric tonnes, while the fuel distribution barge’s storage capacity will be 4,800 metric tonnes.

The terminal is located just off the waterfront area of the west side of Prince Rupert, near the Westview Wood Pellet Terminal.