The world’s second largest container shipping company, CMA CGM, has signed a Memorandum of Unserstanding with French energy group ENGIE to promote the use of liquefied natural gas as a marine fuel.
The agreement, which was signed Wednesday at CMA CGM’s headquareters in Marseille, France, will be centered around on a technical and economic study on the use of LNG as a fuel for future container ships. The study will focus primarily on the development of engineering specifications for a bunkering vessel adapted specifically to LNG-powered container ships.
The companies hope the study will help improve over time the logistics chain necessary to fuel LNG-powered containerships in order to help promote their deployment.
Both CMA CGM and ENGIE say they consider the use of LNG as a marine fuel expand in the near future and both intend to be active players in this development.
“We are most pleased with this cooperation with CMA CGM, which is a leader of maritime transport at the international level,” commented Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE. “For ENGIE, natural gas is a key element in the energy transition. The Group is actively engaged in the development of the diverse uses of retail LNG, especially for transportation. Ultimately, LNG as marine fuel will lead to a massive reduction in pollutant emissions.”
For CMA CGM, the agreement rounds out a research program it launched in 2011 to design more environmentally-friendly large capacity container ships. The research program has so far consisted of the development of a dual fuel (LNG and fuel oil) large capacity containership in partnership with South Korean shipbuilder, DSME, which will serve as a proof of concept and has been approved by classification society Bureau Veritas. The second part of the program aims at designing a large capacity containership using a combined gas and steam turbine system for power. The so-called “PERFECt” project was launched in 2015 in partnership with DNV GL, GTT, ABB, Caterpillar, and OMT.
“Liquefied natural gas has many environmental advantages,” says Farid Salem, Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group. “It is undoubtedly the fuel of the future of the maritime shipping industry that will progressively substitute heavy fuel oil over the next few decades. CMA CGM wishes to be a pioneer in this area. And with the agreement with ENGIE this allows the company to move one step closer.”
Right now ENGIE manages a large LNG supply portfolio and has a significant presence in regasification terminals in Europe and worldwide. In 2014, the ENGIE initiated a partnership with Mitsubishi Corporation and NYK in LNG marine fuel development and ordered the first purpose-built LNG bunkering vessel in the market. Delivery to their first customer is expected in early 2017 at Zeebrugge, Belgium. To go even further, last September the three groups launched a joint new brand, Gas4Sea, offering a clean, reliable, safe, and cost-effective ship-to-ship supply of LNG for the maritime sector.