Fuel-saving ferry, LNG-powered ships were 'main milestones' of 2017: Balearia

Operator lauds bunker-related projects as EBITDA and turnover grow.

The Regina Baltica, operated by Balearia. Image credit: Balearia

Updated on 23 Mar 2018 17:07 GMT

Spanish ferry operator Balearia says its commitment to LNG and the addition of the first of four bunker-saving 'eco fast ferries' to its fleet were two of the firm's "main milestones" of 2017.

Balearia noted that it invested EUR 125 million in acquisitions, new vessel construction and repowering last year as the company continued to focus on improving the fuel efficiency of its fleet and in the development of LNG-powered ferries.

In 2017, the first in a series of four eco fast ships, the Eco Aqua, started operating between the islands of Ibiza and Formentera. The other three vessels, Eco Terra, Eco Aire and Eco Lux are yet to be completed.

The fuel-saving ships are powered by state-of-the-art engines designed to minimize emissions and feature a wave-piercing bow and photovoltaic solar panels, supplying energy on board.

In terms of LNG developments last year, in February, Balearia ordered two new, dual-fuel, gas-powered ferries to be built at the Cantiere Navale Visentini shipyard in Italy. The vessels are expected to be operational by the end of 2018.

In January 2017, meanwhile, the company's 2010-built Abel Matutes was refuelled with LNG in Barcelona for the first time after being retrofitted with a 30-cubic-metre LNG storage tank and an auxiliary natural gas engine built by Rolls-Royce.

Balearia's fourth LNG-fuelled ferry, which was ordered in 2016 from Construcciones Navales del Norte SL (LaNaval) shipyard in Sestao, Spain, is scheduled to enter into regular service in 2019.

The ferry operator also noted in its analysis of 2017 that its commitment to expanding its geographical coverage and services resulted in its fleet sailing 15 percent more miles last year, but despite this, the eco-efficiency ratio for Balearia's next-generation ferries (which relates CO2 emissions with the passengers and cargo carried and the miles sailed) "only increased by 3.1 percent".

In its key financial figures for 2017, Balearia's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) rose by 3 percent to EUR 81.5m, whilst turnover grew 10 percent to EUR 362.6m.