Keeping British Columbia's natural beauty while supporting Canada's economy

Douglas Channel

An issue that is frequently raised by concerned citizens and those organizations lobbying against new projects is that the passage from sea to Kitimat is too narrow to accommodate large tankers and LNG carriers. The narrowest section of the channel is 0.8 nautical miles wide (1,480 meters) whereas even a Very Large Crude Oil Carrier (VLCC) has a beam of only 60 meters. The marine industry is therefore entirely confident that the entire sea passage from deep sea to Kitimat will continue to be safely executed despite the proposed increases in oil tanker and LNG carrier traffic.

The narrowest point of Douglas Channel has ample sea-room for two large vessels to pass safely

The narrowest point of Douglas Channel has ample sea-room for two large vessels to pass safely

With respect to the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, expertise within the marine industry has been recruited and and has actively participated in simulations of the passage, including with the most adverse of weather conditions and adverse currents. Following simulation, BC Coast Pilots, who have for many years conducted vessels through the Douglas Channel, have determined that a VLCC can safely navigate the entire channel without tugs. However, in order to raise the level of safety, escort tug(s) will be utilized for the entire passage. In addition, industry participated directly in the TERMPOL submission which is a Transport Canada led document to review the project safety from sea to terminal.

The marine industry is extremely proud of its safety record on the coast of BC which regularly exceeds a 99.90% success ratio. In 2011-12,144 ships were handled with but four minor issues for a 99.97% success ratio. This level of success is not achieved by chance. The pilot examination process is one of the most stringent a candidate will ever face with only around 15% of candidates qualified to be examined being ultimately successful in gaining a pilot license.

Year Assignments (Incidents) % of Incident-Free Assignments
2006 12,945 (8) 99.94%
2007 13,012 (7) 99.95%
2008 12,598 (4) 99.98%
2009 11,122 (6) 99.95%
2010 11,446 (2) 99.98%
2011 12,144 (4) 99.97%

While on average the Pacific Pilotage Authority spends over $500,000 per annum on training, in 2010, this rose to over $1.2 million to include additional tanker handling protocols for the port of Vancouver.