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World’s largest LNG bunkering vessel launches in Rotterdam

With the shipping sector starting to opt for cleaner fuels, the market for LNG as a marine fuel is growing strongly

French oil major Total has brought the world’s largest LNG bunkering vessel, the Gas Agility, into operation in the Dutch port of Rotterdam, the company and the port say.

The 18,600m³ vessel is chartered long term by Total from Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and will operate in northern Europe. The 135.5m long bunkering ship, which uses LNG as its own fuel, will supply the world’s first LNG-fuelled 23,000TEU container ships operated by French shipping company CMA CGM.

The two French firms inked a 10-year LNG supply deal for the new generation of container ships in 2017. Total will provide 300,000t/yr of LNG to supply CMA CGM’s nine LNG-fuelled container ships, which will predominantly sail between Europe and Asia.

“’Gas Agility’ is a clear demonstration of our ongoing drive to develop key logistical LNG infrastructures” Leprince-Ringuet, Total

‘Gas Agility’ is a clear demonstration of our ongoing drive to develop key logistical LNG infrastructures in the main bunkering hubs around the world,” said Jerome Leprince-Ringuet, managing director of Total Marine Fuels Global Solutions.

The shipping sector is increasingly opting for LNG as a marine fuel since new International Maritime Organization rules came into force this year restricting the  sulphur content of marine fuel to 0.5pc.

Rotterdam is one of the world’s hotspots for LNG bunkering, with volumes more than trebling in the first half of the year. They rose to 93,713m³ in the first half of 2020, up from 26,146m³ moved over the same period last year, according to port data. This year’s six-month volumes are already 30pc above sales for 2019 as a whole.

Total, already a major player in the LNG sector, producing around 40mn t/yr, says it aims to also play a central role in the LNG bunkering market, which it sees growing to 20mn t/yr by 2030. It has already agreed to charter a second LNG bunkering vessel from MOL for delivery in 2021, which will be based in France’s Marseille-Fos area. In April, the French oil major also chartered its first LNG-propulsion crude oil tankers from Malaysia’s AET with a capacity of about 300,000t.

There are currently 15 LNG bunkering vessels in operation worldwide and another 22 on order, according to Norwegian classification society DNV GL.

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