Atlantic Towing Ltd. of Saint John, N.B. has been given $4.9 million in federal funding to support pioneering upgrades to one of the company’s platform supply vessels and to allow the integration of battery systems into the vessel’s existing diesel-electric propulsion plant.

The company said in a news release the vessel it will upgrade is the Atlantic Shrike, based in St. John’s, N.L. Designed to supply drilling platforms, the vessel will become the first to use this type of battery technology in the Canadian offshore oil and gas industry.

“As Canada’s leading offshore marine service provider, we are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” Sheldon Lace, Atlantic Towing’s offshore business director, said.

“The proposed retrofit represents a novel approach for the offshore industry. This project combines battery technology that has enabled carbon-free, all-electric operation with a battery-hybrid drive train.”

Following the upgrade, the Shrike’s greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be reduced by up to 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

The nearly $5 million in funding provided by Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador is part of the larger Natural Resources Canada Emissions Reduction Fund Offshore R&D Program, a $33 million investment for research, development and demonstration projects that advance solutions to decarbonize Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore industry.

Atlantic Towing responded to a call for proposals issued by PRNL in December 2020 and was among several funding recipients announced on May 5.

“Transportation of supplies and provision of offshore support are essential to our offshore operations. Reducing emissions from offshore vessels through technical innovation like this will go directly toward reducing the carbon footprint of our offshore,” said Dave Finn, CEO, Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador.

Work on the Shrike is scheduled to be complete by the end of March 2022.