TotalEnergies Marine Fuels and MOL move closer to operational service of first LNG bunker vessel

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Paris, July 12, 2021 – The first liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker vessel to be based in France has marked another step towards her delivery and operational commencement, following the successful completion of her sea and gas trials.

The new vessel is TotalEnergies Marine Fuels’ second collaboration with shipowner Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) and shipbuilder, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding. TotalEnergies Marine Fuels and MOL signed a long-term charter contract in November 2019 and construction commenced in April 2020.

The 18,600-m³ capacity vessel was first launched from the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding in China at the end of April 2021. In June, sea trials were conducted off Shanghai where the new vessel’s navigation and propulsion systems were successfully tested, including speed and manoeuvrability assessments at open sea. Gas trials were completed in early July, under the attendance of the ship management team.

Due to go into operational service in the final quarter of 2021, the vessel will be operated by V-Ships France, under the French flag and will be based in the Port of Marseille-Fos, Southern France, to serve the Mediterranean region. Her first contracts will be to perform LNG bunkering services to CMA CGM’s LNG-fuelled containerships and MSC Cruises’ upcoming LNG-powered cruise ships that call at the French port.

Leveraging the design-and-build experience for TotalEnergies Marine Fuels’ first chartered LNG bunker vessel – Gas Agility – the world’s largest LNG bunker vessel in operation, the new vessel will incorporate enhanced equipment boosting its bunkering efficiency and flexibility to supply LNG to a wide range of vessels across various segments and sizes. These improved features include an additional bow thruster, upgraded cargo pumps and high duty compressors, as well as a pressure reduction system to optimize bunkering operations of ‘Type C’ tank vessels under all conditions.

Other key features will be similar to the Gas Agility’s pioneering design. The 135 meters long, GTT Mark III membrane vessel will meet the highest technical and environmental standards, herself using LNG as propulsion fuel and integrating a complete re-liquefaction of the boil-off gas.

The Bureau Veritas-classed vessel also underlines a strong collaborative action across the French maritime industry and the excellence of its value chain, from incorporating technologies of leading French companies into the vessel’s shipbuilding, to the supply of LNG, and the involvement of local port authorities to enable the vessels’ safe operatorship.

“We are excited to be at the forefront of making LNG bunkering capabilities readily available in France and the Mediterranean region,” said Jérôme Leprince-Ringuet, Vice-President Marine Fuels at TotalEnergies. “With shipping’s accelerating transition to this cleaner marine fuel, we look forward to providing our customers with another major European hub for their LNG bunkering needs.”

Kenta Matsuzaka, Senior Managing Executive Officer of MOL, said, “It is my great pleasure and honour to witness this important milestone of the project. MOL will support TotalEnergies in a long term throughout the LNG supply chain, contributing to stable energy supply and decarbonization of the shipping industry. We are proud of being part of the ongoing energy transition of the shipping industry by enabling our customer to supply cleaner marine fuel.”

By end 2021, TotalEnergies Marine Fuels will charter two LNG bunkering vessels in Rotterdam and Marseille and share the use of a third bunker vessel in Singapore. In February 2021, the Singapore entity of TotalEnergies Marine Fuels also received a license from the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to supply LNG in the Port of Singapore from 2022.

LNG as a marine fuel
LNG as a marine fuel has gained positive momentum as the global shipping industry looks to adapt to stricter emissions standards.
Used as a marine fuel, LNG helps to cut:
• Sulfur emissions by 99%,
• Fine particle emissions by 99%,
• Nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 85%,
• Greenhouse gases emissions by up to 23% (Well-to-Wake)1
LNG represents an available and competitive solution that contributes to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) long-term strategy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships. Traction in developing LNG bunkering infrastructure has consequently expanded with several leading ports and LNG bunker suppliers alike having established key initiatives and made significant progress in support of these developments. LNG as a marine fuel also lays the foundation for the introduction of greener bioLNG in the future.

1 Sphera’s ‘2nd Life Cycle GHG Emission Study on the Use of LNG as Marine Fuel’ study:
https://sphera.com/research/2nd-life-cycle-ghg-emission-study-on-the-use-of-lng-as-marine-fuel/

Sue Terpilowski
Author: Sue Terpilowski

Executive Editor of SeaNews