Feb. 6 (UPI) -- French supermajor Total said Tuesday it made a deeper commitment to liquefied natural gas by chartering a refueling vessel for Europe-to-Asia trade routes.
The marine fuels division of Total signed with Japan's Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, or MOL, a long-term charter commitment for a bunkering vessel scheduled for 2020 delivery. The vessel, the first designed for large-scale bunkering operations, will be built at a Chinese shipyard and service cargo vessels in northern European waters, including those traveling the Europe-to-Asia trade routes.
Bunkering is the ship-to-ship transfer of fuel. The as-yet unnamed vessel will be used specifically for French container shipping company CMA CGM, following a 10-year agreement signed with Total in December.
Total in July said it was making strides on LNG as a fuel through its marine fuels subsidiary. Its first agreement for LNG bunkering was signed with Brittany Ferries, a French passenger and freight shipper that starts to get the supplies in 2019.
"Combined with our strong historical activity in the bunker industry and our global footprint in LNG, this pioneer agreement offers a major contribution to the development of LNG as a marine fuel and illustrates Total's strong commitment towards the use of this new fuel," Olivier Jouny, the managing director of Total's fuels division, said in a statement.
The French supermajor said LNG as a fuel source is transformative given the maritime shipping industry's quest to cap emissions of nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Beyond the chartering agreements, Total and the Japanese transport company signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on maritime LNG infrastructure and servicing MOL's future needs for the super-cooled liquid gas.
The new vessel for CGM's lines will be managed by the British subsidiary of MOL.