CMA CGM Orders Biogas-Powered Ships to Serve French West Indies

Image via CMA CGM.

During a recent trip to Martinique and Guadeloupe, CMA CGM Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rodolphe Saadé announced the rollout of seven new container ships powered by biogas to enhance and modernize services to the French West Indies. 

Set for delivery in 2024, the seven new container ships—four 7,300 TEU vessels and three 7,900 TEU vessels, each with 1,385 reefer plugs—will serve Guadeloupe and Martinique, significantly increasing services to the two islands, while also maintaining the same service standards, reliability and regularity, according to the French container shipping company.

The vessels are slated to replace smaller ships that sail routes between the French West Indies, France and Europe.

In order for ports to handle these larger capacity vessels, the CMA CGM Group has said that it plans to help modernize and increase the terminal capacity at the biggest seaports in Guadeloupe and Martinique, as well as making wharfs larger.

Fort de France and Pointe à Pitre, central hubs of the Caribbean and South America, are to be the starting point for trans-shipments to Guyana, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy and northeast Brazil, CMA CGM said.

“With its new investment, the group hopes to offer more support to its customers and partners and more generally to the economies of Martinique and Guadeloupe,” the shipper said in a statement.

“The seven new ships rolled out in the French West Indies in two years will be powered by biogas, a technology that helps to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect air quality by eliminating almost all air pollutants,” the statement continued.

Biogas produced from biomass reduces CO2 emissions by 67% compared with conventional fuel and cuts sulfur oxide emissions by 99%, fine particle emissions by 91% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 92%, studies have shown.

According to CMA CGM, dual-fuel gas engine technology that it’s developed since 2017 is able to use biogas as well as synthetic methane. CMA CGM said that it currently has 31 e-methane ready container ships in its fleet fitted with dual-fuel engines, and that it expects to have 77 of the vessels by 2026. 

The CMA CGM Group has played a key role in the development of Martinique and Guadeloupe, and has been a link between the French West Indies, France and the rest of the world through its activities.

The Marseille-based shipper, which transports bananas from the French West Indies to France, operates dedicated shipping lines to Guadeloupe and Martinique and is involved in structural actions to help boost the local economies.