With over 20,000 runway movements and 1.6 million passengers coming and going in February alone, the Vancouver International Airport sees a lot of air traffic.
Fueling that air traffic is no small feat. Currently, fuel arrives at the airport by two means: a 45-year-old pipeline that runs through Richmond, from Burnaby, and a steady stream of tanker trucks from Washington state, up to 40 tanker trucks a day to be exact. As the airport grows, the need for tanker trucks will grow with it. One new flight a day from Asia would require an additional 800 fuel truck deliveries a year.
It is clear that this is neither the most sustainable nor the most efficient method of getting fuel to planes.
Having received federal and provincial environmental approval in 2013, the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC), a consortium made up of the major airlines that service YVR, is currently building a fueling system. This system includes a marine terminal on the south arm of the Fraser river a fuel receiving facility on Port of Vancouver land adjacent to the terminal and a pipeline that will run 13 km underground to YVR.
Construction of all three components of the system was slated to begin by the end of last year or early this year, though permitting is still ongoing.
On April 3, 2017, the VAFFC received technical approval from the Oil and Gas Commission to begin work on the pipeline and marine terminal.
The construction of this terminal includes seismic upgrades to an existing dock as well as shoreline rehabilitation allowing for off-shore mooring structures to be built.
Trinity Power has supplied a temporary unit substation to Houle Electric Ltd., the electrical contractor on site. This substation is connected to the BCH grid at 25kV and supplying 600V distribution for the construction process.
The fuel receiving facility is being constructed in two phases, beginning with ground improvement. Ground densification is currently ongoing, while the construction of tanks and foundation is expected to begin this month or next.
Pipeline construction will make extensive use of directional drilling to avoid disrupting land and marine traffic.
The project has received some pushback from the City of Richmond over concerns about the impact to farmland and a nature reserve. The city also protested what it considered a lack of consultation and tight timelines.
Despite these objections, the project is moving forward, and is expected to be completed in Spring of 2018.