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THE first liquefied natural gas bunker vessel to be based in France has marked another step towards its delivery and operational commencement, following the successful completion of sea and gas trials.

The new vessel is TotalEnergies Marine Fuels’ second collaboration with shipowner Mitsui O.S.K. Lines 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 maneuverability 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.

The vessel’s 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 optimise 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-metre GTT Mark III membrane vessel will meet the highest technical and environmental standards, using LNG as propulsion fuel and integrating a complete re-liquefaction of the boil-off gas.

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Jérôme Leprince-Ringuet, vice-president marine fuels at TotalEnergies said, “We are excited to be at the forefront of making LNG bunkering capabilities readily available in France and the Mediterranean region.

“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.

“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, the Singapore entity of TotalEnergies Marine Fuels also received a license from the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore to supply LNG in the Port of Singapore from 2022.

TotalEnergies is the world’s second largest publicly traded LNG player, with a global portfolio of nearly 50 Mt/y by 2025 and a global market share of around 10%.

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