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CMA CGM confirms US$1.2b LNG shipbuilding plan

MARSEILLE-HEADQUARTERED shipping giant CMA CGM confirmed on Tuesday shipbuilding contracts with three Chinese shipyards reportedly pegged at US$1.2 billion for nine giant box ships that will mainly run on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

These shipbuilding contracts commissioned to two shipyards under state-run CSSC Group, Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding and Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) would also spell the construction of the largest box ships in the world.

Equipped with 22,000 TEU (20-foot-equivalent) capacity, each of the nine ships stand to out-muscle the 21,413 TEU series of box ships delivered in stages since May to Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Lines from South Korea's Samsung Heavy Industries.

CMA CGM in announcing the shipbuilding contracts at Bonn 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference, added that these giant box ships will be LNG-powered, meaning the cleaner burning fossil fuel will make up over 90 per cent of the ship fuel used to run these ships.

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Marine gas oil, a derivative product from refining of crude oil, which will be used for ignition in the combustion chambers of these ships, will constitute just a small percentage of the overall ship fuel usage.

By CMA CGM's claim, these ships to be delivered by 2020 from the Chinese shipyards, will allow the French shipping giant to go beyond meeting the global sulphur cap.

Last October, the International Maritime Organization firmed up the implementation of the global sulphur cap, which will limit sulphur content in ship fuels to not more than 0.5 per cent by 2020.

CMA CGM said that with these ships, the group will also be fully aligned with COP 21, the Paris agreement on climate change and other ongoing discussions on the subject matter at the international level.