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First LNG-Bunkering Vessel for a French Port Prepares for Deployment

first LNG bunker vessel for France
New LNG bunker vessel on trials (Hudong-Zhonghua)

Published Jul 12, 2021 7:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

The first liquefied natural gas bunker vessel that will be deployed in a French homeport later this year is nearing completion at a shipyard in China. Built for the collaboration between TotalEnergies Marine Fuels and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, the vessel will be among the largest LNG bunker vessels and incorporate several refinements in the design versus the group’s first vessel that was placed into service last year.

The new vessel is being built in China at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding. TotalEnergies Marine Fuels and MOL signed a long-term charter contract in November 2019 and construction commenced in April 2020.

The vessel, which will have a capacity of 18,600-m³ was launched 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 maneuverability assessments. Gas trials were completed in early July, with the ship management team in attendance.

The vessel is similar in size to the company’s first LNG bunker vessel, the Gas Agility, however, it benefits from the operating experience to incorporate enhanced equipment boosting its bunkering efficiency and flexibility to supply LNG to a wide range of vessels across various segments and sizes. Both vessels are 443 feet in length using LNG as propulsion fuel and integrating a complete re-liquefaction of the boil-off gas. They are GTT Mark III membrane vessels.

Among the improved features for the newer vessel is an additional bow thruster. The cargo pumps and high duty compressors were also upgraded, as well as a pressure reduction system to optimize bunkering operations of Type C tank vessels under all conditions.

“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.”

Due to go into service before the end 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-fueled containerships and in the future it will also fuel MSC Cruises’ upcoming LNG-powered cruise ships that will call at the French port.

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