CMA CGM has been the biggest early adopter of LNG as a bunker fuel. Image Credit: CMA CGM
French container line CMA CGM, one of the biggest supporters of LNG-fuelled shipping, has followed AP Moller-Maersk's lead in ordering ships capable of running on methanol as a bunker fuel.
The company has ordered six 15,000 TEU dual-fuel methanol-powered boxships, it said in its first-quarter results. The ships are due for delivery by the end of 2025.
The firm is also ordering ten new LNG-powered ships.
"This 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 company said in the statement.
"CMA CGM is thus accelerating its decarbonization trajectory by investing massively in gas and methanol fuels.
"The two sectors will be complementary for decarbonizing shipping industry in the years to come."
While CMA CGM is not turning away from LNG as a bunker fuel, supporters of this alternative fuel may still be disappointed by this announcement. LNG bunkering comes with a high infrastructure cost to set up the necessary delivery infrastructure, and sections of the CMA CGM fleet using methanol instead will shrink the demand pool among which those costs will be shared.
Conversely, the order will come as a significant boost to the methanol bunkering industry, with more firm demand allowing for further supply commitments.
Locking in supply for the new ships will be a significant challenge for CMA CGM over the next few years, and a degree of rivalry with Maersk may emerge as the firms negotiate with potential suppliers.
The CMA CGM order combined with Maersk's previous ones mean about 220,100 TEU of container shipping capacity will be running on methanol by 2026, or about 0.9% of the current global container fleet capacity.