CMA CGM deploys its first LNG-powered boxship in West Africa

CMA CGM Scandola will be the first LNG-powered containership of the French shipping company CMA CGM to call West African ports.

Illustration. Courtesy of CMA CGM

The 2020-built ship, which is the company’s first biomethane- and e-methane-ready vessel, will arrive at the new Lekki Deep Sea Port in Nigeria on January 28.

Before reaching Lekki, the vessel will first call the port of Tema, Ghana, on January 23 as CMA CGM’s first LNG-powered containership to call a port in West Africa.

Following the call in Nigeria, the 366-meter-long boxship will continue its voyage and sail to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

At 15,000 TEU, the containership also ranks amongst the largest vessels to be calling in West Africa.

By deploying this “biomethane and e-methane ready” containership, CMA CGM Group said it demonstrates once again its commitment to support West Africa’s supply chains by increasing deployed capacity, as well as the group’s role as a pioneer to decarbonize shipping and logistics in the region and worldwide.

The boxship sails on CMA CGM’s West Africa Express (WAX) service connecting West Africa (Tema, Lekki, Abidjan, Pointe-Noire) directly to China, South-East Asia and India. The shipping player is strengthening the WAX service to support customers with high-capacity vessels and by adding calls at the ports of Tema, Ghana, and Pointe Noire, Republic of the Congo. WAX also calls the new Lekki Deep Sea Port.

Through its subsidiary CMA Terminals, the group manages and operates the Lekki Freeport Terminal, a new generation of multi-user container terminal and a game-changing infrastructure for Nigeria and West Africa.

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The new terminal became Nigeria’s first deep sea port equipped with gantry cranes and one of the largest in West Africa, acting as a gateway to the continent’s largest economy. The terminal’s quay is 1.2-kilometer-long for a capacity of 2.5 million TEUs with an existing phase 1 launched in February 2023 offering a capacity of up to 1.2 million TEUs with five ship-to-shore cranes. With a depth of 16 meters, it can operate vessels with a capacity of up to 15,000 TEU.

The Lekki terminal serves as a mega transshipment hub, especially to Nigeria’s neighboring countries in the Gulf of Guinea such as Togo and Benin.

Dual-fuel gas-powered vessels such as the CMA CGM Scandola currently run on LNG, improving air quality by avoiding up to 99% of sulphur emission, 92% of nitrogen oxide emission and 91% of particulate matter. Thus, once supply is available, these ships will be capable of using BioLNG (liquefied biomethane produced from biowaste), and e-methane (synthetic-methane produced from decarbonized hydrogen), a source of carbon-neutral fuel. The group invested close to $15 billion in decarbonizing its fleet.

CMA CGM is currently operating 36 dual-fuel LNG-powered containerships, and will have almost 120 vessels capable of being powered by decarbonized fuels by 2028. Recently, the company took delivery of three new LNG-powered ships — the CMA CGM Cedrus, the CMA CGM Bahia and the CMA CGM Legacy.

CMA CGM Group has also launched several large industrial partnerships to diversify its sourcing with even more decarbonized fuels. In September 2022, Rodolphe Saadé announced the creation of PULSE, CMA CGM Energy Fund, with a $1.5 billion budget over five years to accelerate the decarbonization of all the sea, land, air transportation and logistics activities worldwide.

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In 2023, the CMA CGM Group reduced its CO2 emissions by around -1 million tons.

The CMA CGM Group has been operating in West Africa for over 20 years, with currently 21 offices and almost 700 staff members.

“The deployment of this new generation vessel on our WAX service from Asia to West Africa and from West Africa to Asia marks a new stage in our partnership with our customers, local authorities and partners. We are determined to continue to support the immense potential of African logistics, paving the way for a dynamic and growing economy and proud to initiate the energy transition,” Stéphane Courquin, Head of CMA CGM Africa, commented.