MOL inks transition loan for France’s 1st LNG bunker vessel

Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has signed a transition-linked loan to finance “one of the world’s largest” liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering vessels and the first one to be based in France, Gas Vitality.

As informed, the loan is provided by French multinational investment bank and financial services company Societe Generale (SocGen) and Japanese multinational banking institution Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation which are acting as lenders and co-sustainability coordinators.

The loan’s structure is in line with a transition finance framework and a sustainability-linked instrument. DNV Business Assurance Japan, as an external review organization, has evaluated the eligibility of the framework and the eligibility of the Japanese shipping firm. Specifically, the DNV provided an eligibility assessment for the framework by applying sustainability-linked loan principles and guidelines.

The bunkering vessel, owned by MOL’s subsidiary Emerald Blue Maritime, comes as a result of the company’s second collaboration with Chinese Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding and TotalEnergies Marine Fuels. The firms held the naming ceremony for the 18,000-cbm newbuild last week.

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Classed by Bureau Veritas and operated by V.Ships France under the French flag, Gas Vitality is scheduled to enter operational service in December 2021 and be based in the Port of Marseille-Fos, to serve the Mediterranean region. It will notably perform LNG bunkering services to CMA CGM’s LNG-fueled containerships and MSC Cruises’ upcoming LNG-powered cruise ships that call at the French port, according to the company.

In July this year, the vessel completed its sea and gas sea trials, which were conducted off Shanghai where the navigation and propulsion systems were tested, including speed and maneuverability assessments at open sea. Gas trials were completed in early July.

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MOL plans to encourage the wider adoption of LNG as marine fuel by promoting the development of LNG fuel supply systems in Japan and around the world. The firm also wants to launch about 90 LNG-fueled vessels by 2030 as a strategy to introduce clean alternative fuels.