CMA CGM is Catching Up to Maersk's Methanol Bunker Dominance

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Thursday February 2, 2023

French container line CMA CGM appears to be rapidly catching up with rival AP Moller-Maersk in the race to shift parts of its fleet to methanol propulsion.

Korea Shipbuilding and Offshore Engineering reported this week that it had won a $2.05 billion order to build 12 large methanol-fuelled boxships for a European firm for delivery by the end of 2026. Shipping analysts have since pointed to CMA CGM as the likely buyer for the 13,000 TEU vessels.

Maersk has been the early leader in ordering ships with methanol propulsion, and can be credited with much of the current momentum behind this alternative fuel. The firm currently has 19 methanol-fuelled ships totalling 296,100 TEU on order, the first of which is due for delivery in the middle of this year.

But if CMA CGM is confirmed as the buyer in the new Korean order, that would put its methanol-fuelled orderbook close to Maersk's at 246,000 TEU across 18 ships.

The next step, and a significant challenge, will be to secure green methanol supply in time for the new ships' arrival. Maersk has signed a series of deals investing in green methanol production with a view to supplying its ships, but CMA CGM has yet to do so.

One possible candidate for a methanol supply partnership could be fellow French firm TotalEnergies, with which CMA CGM has had a close relationship over the past few years supplying LNG to its gas-powered ships. TotalEnergies joined industry body the Methanol Institute early last year, and plans to produce synthetic green methanol from the Leuna refinery.