CMA CGM Lines Up LNG Fuel Supply for Gas-Powered Megaships

Mike Schuler
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December 4, 2017

CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin departing Seattle, 1 March 2016.

CMA CGM has reached an agreement with French energy company Total on the supply of LNG fuel for the shipping company’s nine record-setting newbuildings to be powered by natural gas.

Under the agreement, Total will supply around 300,000 tons of liquified natural gas per year for a period of 10 years. The supply will commence upon delivery of the containerships beginning in 2020.

CMA CGM signed shipbuilding contracts for the nine 22,000 TEU Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) in September with shipyards belonging state-run China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) Group. 

CMA CGM described the agreement with Total as ‘unprecedented’ in volume in the history of LNG bunkering.

CMA CGM, the first shipping company in the world to equip its biggest ships with LNG propulsion. With capacity for 22,000 twenty-foot containers, the newbuilds will be the largest containership ever built.

The company said Monday it has selected Total Marine Fuels Global Solutions, the Total affiliate responsible for marketing marine fuels worldwide, for the future supply operations. In February 2017, CMA CGM and Total already signed a cooperation agreement to examine the most environmentally responsible propulsion solutions to meet the International Maritime Organization’s 2020 implementation date for new sulfur regulations.

By opting for LNG, the new ships will outperform the sulfur cap of 0.5% required in 2020.

“LNG is the fuel of the future for shipping,” commented Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CMA CGM. “With this groundbreaking decision by the CMA CGM Group, the entire maritime industry will benefit from the new supply chains that will be created. CMA CGM is pursuing its expansion through a combination of growth, profitability and environmental responsibility. By combining the expertise of two French companies, each one leader in its field, we are consolidating France’s prominent role for a more sustainable transportation and in favor of the energy transition.”

Under the agreement announced Monday, Total will provide a tailor-made solution for LNG supply. The Group is currently considering chartering on long-term basis a LNG bunkering vessel that would not only deliver fuel to CMA CGM in Europe, but also to other customers in the same region. The new supply chains created could lead to the wider use of LNG, especially in other shipping sectors.

As part of its commitment to reduce its energy footprint, CMA CGM has already reduced its carbon emissions per container transported per kilometer by 50% between 2005 and 2015. Going forward, it has introduced a plan for a further 30% reduction by 2025.

“CMA CGM’s decision to adopt LNG propulsion for its new build container ships sends a strong signal to the maritime world.” stated Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Total. “The wider use of LNG as a fuel is an important component of Total’s LNG strategy, and we are delighted to support CMA CGM as it implements this ambitious project. This agreement highlights our involvement in developing dedicated supply chains for this new fuel. We are once again demonstrating our ability to provide customized energy solutions to our customers.”

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