LNG Proponent CMA CGM Orders Six Methanol-Fueled Boxships

cma cgm
Until recently, CMA CGM's future-fuel strategy has centered on LNG (file image courtesy CMA CGM)

Published Jun 6, 2022 3:56 AM by The Maritime Executive

Number three ocean carrier CMA CGM is dipping its toe in the waters of green-methanol propulsion, following the example of early-adopter Maersk. 

In its quarterly report for Q1, the French carrier said that it has ordered 10 new LNG dual-fuel containerships - in line with its future-fuel strategy - and six more designed to run on methanol. Taken together with previous orders, this leaves the carrier with 69 ships in its orderbook and 3.3 million TEU in slot capacity. 

"The first order for methanol-powered vessels is in line with CMA CGM's strategy to expand its energy mix with the goal of achieving net zero carbon by 2050," the firm said. "CMA CGM is thus accelerating its decarbonization trajectory by investing massively in gas and methanol fuels. The two sectors will be complementary for decarbonizing [the] shipping industry." 

CMA CGM has long been a prominent promoter of LNG as a marine fuel, and it operates LNG dual-fuel boxships of up to 23,000 TEU in size. It plans to acquire more than 40 LNG-fueled vessels by 2025, and it has long-term plans to use the same propulsion technology for the green transition. To prepare for the post-fossil-fuel era, CMA CGM has joined forces with Engie to develop synthetic and biogas-based sources of methane, which could be chilled, liquefied and used as a replacement for LNG without further equipment modifications.

One element of this long-term vision is a study for the creation of France's first BioLNG facility, located at Marseille, a major CMA CGM hub. Produced by converting biodegradable household waste from the Marseille Provence region, the BioLNG would be supplied for ships departing from Marseille - primarily CMA CGM Group’s LNG-powered vessels.

Maersk has placed no orders for LNG-fueled tonnage, putting its stock on making the jump straight to green methanol. It has ordered 12 methanol-powered vessels and entered into commercial agreements with half a dozen green methanol manufacturers to build a supply chain for the brand new fuel.