CMA CGM switches methanol containership order to LNG fuel

French shipping giant CMA CGM has decided to switch a recent order it placed in China for eight methanol-powered containerships to LNG fuel, according to shipbuilding sources.

China’s Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, part of CSSC, announced on September 27 that it has signed a contract with an European owner to build eight containerships with a capacity of 9,200 teu.

The shipbuilder did not mention CMA CGM in the statement.

SWS claimed this is the world’s largest order for methanol-powered vessels.

It said that these medium-sized containerships with a length of 299.9 meters and a width of 45.6 meters will feature methanol dual-fuel propulsion, the first time for SWS to enter the methanol dual-fuel market.

CSSC Holdings said in a separate stock exchange filling that the order is worth about $1 billion with the deliveries starting in 2027.

However, it seems that CMA CGM changed its mind regarding the order and has opted to use LNG fuel instead of methanol for these vessels, shipbuilding sources told LNG Prime on Wednesday.

It remains unclear whether CMA CGM and SWS have already amended the order or the new deal will be signed soon.

The sources said that one of the main reasons behind this decision could be that there is no availability of “green methanol” and a high price of the fuel produced either from biomass or captured carbon and hydrogen from renewable power.

CMA CGM instead decided to proceed with LNG fuel for these vessels, such is the case with the majority of its newbuild containerships.

The firm, one of the world’s largest backers of LNG as fuel, previously said that LNG is the “best solution” currently available to reduce the environmental impact of shipping.

In addition, the group’s large fleet of LNG-powered ships can already run on biomethane and synthetic methane (e-methane), thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions even more, it said.

CMA CGM said in its recent third-quarter report it has already invested more than $17 billion in a fleet of nearly 120 LNG- and methanol-powered ships scheduled for delivery by 2027.

LNG-powered vessels for La Meridionale

Besides this move, CMA CGM’s ropax unit La Meridionale unveiled the desing of two LNG-powered vessels which will be able to accommodate 1,000 passengers.

Earlier this year, CMA CGM finalized its acquisition of compatriot La Meridionale saying that it plans to order two LNG-powered vessels to work between Corsica and Marseille.

The French-flagged vessels will be 180 meters long, 30.8 meters wide, and will have 264 cabins.

La Meridionale said it will take delivery of these two LNG-powered vessels in the first quarter of 2027.

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