CMA CGM Asia Pacific chief executive Stephane Courquin tells CST about the carrier’s sustainability journey in both the Asia Pacific region and elsewhere
CMA CGM is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050 – and this transition includes LNG as well as other eco-fuels including biofuels and biomethane.
Since 2008, the Group has reduced its carbon emissions by almost 49% per TEU/km in line with its voluntary target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. And by 2023, it has earmarked 10% of its fuels to be alternative cleaner energy sources such as biofuels, LNG, biomethane and more.
The importance of its energy transition strategy is underlined by the group’s recent new image and solution: Better Ways. Mr Courquin tells CST, “Better Ways, our new image and signature, fully expresses this new strategy: more sustainable and smarter shipping routes, better integrated and more coherent logistics solutions on land, sea and in the sky, more rapid, fluid and intuitive opportunities for innovation and digitalisation, ways of developing that are more responsible and more respectful of people and the planet, and more inclusive interactions with our staff members.”
Developing LNG infrastructure
CMA CGM has been at the forefront of using LNG as fuel. It was the first of the large container liners to back the use of LNG when in 2017 it ordered nine dual-fuel 23,000-TEU mega newbuilds – the first ultra-large container ships to be fuelled by LNG. The first of these, flagship Jacques Saade, was delivered in September last year.
At the end of April this year, CMA CGM announced that it had signed a shipbuilding order with CSSC that includes six LNG-powered container ships with a capacity of 13,000 TEU and six LNG-powered container ships with a capacity of 15,000 TEU.
Mr Courquin says, “LNG is the state-of-the-art industry solution currently available in terms of the energy transition. It is also a very recent technology that is still evolving and continuously improving.”
CMA CGM’s Singapore and Asia Pacific region has played an important role in the vessels’ use of LNG. CMA CGM Scandola was the first of the carrier’s six 15,000-TEU LNG-powered container ships to be bunkered in Singapore. It was also the first vessel in Asia to conduct simultaneous container loading and discharging operations alongside LNG bunkering operations in March this year.
Mr Courquin tells CST, “This milestone in Singapore marks an advancement in Asia’s LNG bunkering infrastructure that will enable a wider adoption of LNG by carriers, and take vessel operational efficiency a notch up, enabling a shorter port stay time.”
This first bunkering was followed a few days later by bunkering operations to CMA CGM Group’s flagship, CMA CGM Jacques Saade, which was fuelled with 6,801 m3 of LNG at the port of Singapore.
“This made it the largest container vessel to conduct ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operations not only in Singapore but in the entire region,” notes Mr Courquin. “We are very pleased to have been part of these first bunkering operations here in Singapore where the CMA CGM Group has its Asia headquarters.”
Developing LNG bunkering infrastructure is critical when it comes to developing a fleet of vessels running on LNG, and it is an area that Asia is developing. Mr Courquin says, “In Asia, apart from Singapore, we are seeing ports in Japan and China developing their LNG bunkering infrastructure. These are steps forward in enabling a wider usage of LNG in the industry.
“They are important to the CMA CGM Group as we will grow our LNG vessel fleet to 44 by the end of 2024. It is critical that the LNG infrastructure grow according to the development of LNG use in the industry as more maritime companies continue to order LNG-powered vessels.”
He says CMA CGM has been working for several years now with its partners – energy companies and ports – to develop new infrastructure, whether in Asia or elsewhere in the world such as Marseille (France), where it will soon start to bunker the fleet of 15,000-TEU vessels it is deploying between Asia and the Mediterranean.
CMA CGM has taken an active role in helping to develop the LNG infrastructure and supply chain. Mr Courquin says, “The Group is constantly engaged in talks with fuel suppliers, port authorities and more. We are also studying several ports where we’ll bunker our increasing fleet of LNG vessels ahead. LNG-powered ships call at ports where there are LNG bunkering facilities. With more LNG ships in the orderbook, we can expect the use of LNG to accelerate and consequently lead to the development in LNG infrastructure.”
CMA CGM’s energy transition includes the use of other eco-fuels such as second-generation biofuels and biomethane. CMA CGM’s LNG engines can already use bio-methane produced from organic waste.
Mr Courquin says, “Technologies will continue to improve over time, and we are preparing a long-term energy transition. There is no single solution anyone can claim to bring about net-zero emissions today. We need to act in Better Ways today while working on the best solutions for tomorrow. Today, we are fueling our ships with second-generation biofuel and LNG while our search for solutions continues.”
Recently, CMA CGM Group chairman and chief executive Rodolphe Saadé announced the support of the production of 12,000 tonnes of biomethane – equivalent to one-year’s consumption of two 1,400-TEU vessels. Biomethane is a renewable green gas and can reduce CO2 emissions by at least 67% well-to-wake. Heading towards zero carbon emissions by 2050, CMA CGM will continue to invest and research energies of the future. The Group is also deploying an ambitious research and development programme to move towards zero-emissions solutions for transport and logistics.
Mr Courquin expands, “We have a roadmap covering energy efficiency, network optimisation, eg. through data mining and artificial intelligence, conceptualising container ships to progressively operate with zero-carbon energy, the development of a supply chain for new zero-carbon energies.”
Collaboration is also an important part of CMA CGM’s strategy to become carbon neutral. In 2019, Mr Saadé initiated the Coalition for the Energy of the Future to accelerate the development of future energies and technologies to sustain new green mobility models to reduce the climate impact of transport and logistics. This worldwide coalition is supported by French President Emmanuel Macron. Today, the Coalition comprises 17 partner companies from different parts of the world and different industries. PSA International, a leading global port group with flagship operations in Singapore, is one of the Coalition’s members.
The coalition is seeing the deployment of seven concrete projects covering green hydrogen, biofuels, carbon-neutral LNG, green electricity, zero-emissions vehicles, an eco-calculator of the transport chain and intermodal green hubs. In fact, the Coalition recently announced the launch of several new projects to accelerate the development of new energies. One of them is about the production and testing of e-methane for the shipping industry.
Three members of the Coalition – TotalEnergies, Engie, and CMA CGM – have joined forces and recently launched a feasibility study to create France’s first production unit for liquefied biomethane (BioLNG), a low-carbon alternative fuel dedicated to energy transition in the shipping industry, at a French port.
Mr Courquin explains, “This project will allow the transformation of household waste from Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence into liquefied biomethane (BioLNG) within the Port of Marseille Fos. This BioLNG will then be used to advance green mobility from the port, notably for the CMA CGM Group’s LNG-powered vessels.
“The Coalition is determined for these developments to be instrumental in decarbonising the maritime, logistics and transport landscape for everyone, worldwide.”
Involving shippers in decarbonisation
Mr Courquin emphasises the decarbonisation journey also involves shippers. He says “Increasingly, CMA CGM is onboarding more and more customers on energy transition through ‘Act with CMA CGM+’ that enables them to opt for cleaner fuel choices and take control of their environmental performance. In going forward, in pioneering in the energy transition, we are also embarking our customers in this journey.”
Indeed, it was last November that CMA CGM launched Act with CMA CGM+ to allow its customers to analyse, reduce and offset their environmental impact. This range of value-added services includes three products offered to all its customers on all shipments:
Mr Courquin says, “Six months after this high value-added range of services was launched, thousands of customers have been convinced and reduced the environmental impact of their shipments. We continue to see keen interest from other customers who are seeking to better understand the solutions and want to take control of their environmental performance.”
CMA CGM Group’s projects include a focus on protecting biodiversity. Apart from having made the call of having none of its vessels sailing on the northern sea route, the CMA CGM Group launched a Reef Recovery Programme that seeks to aid in the regeneration of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The CMA CGM Group is further stepping up on coral reef conservation in various parts of the world. Planting for Planet is the Group’s global tree-planting operation in collaboration with PUR PROJET. 110,000 trees - one for each of the Group’s 110,000 staff members – will be planted throughout 12 countries in 2021, including China, Indonesia and the Philippines. This initiative seeks to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits within each of the local communities.
Stephane Courquin (CMA CGM)
Stéphane Courquin is chief executive of CMA CGM Asia Pacific Limited, overseeing the growth and development of the container shipping business in the region. Prior to his current appointment, Mr Courquin was senior vice president, head of Middle East Gulf regional office at CMA CGM.
Mr Courquin joined the Group in 2006 when Delmas was acquired by CMA CGM. Having held various key leadership roles, he first served as vice president for Africa, Indian Ocean and Oceania Lines. Two years later, he assumed the role of vice president for Asia and Mediterranean Lines before heading the Asia-North Europe and Mediterranean Lines as vice president from 2017 to 2018. With over 30 years of shipping experience, Mr Courquin started his career as line manager at Delmas Shipping before becoming managing director at Delmas Shipping South Africa. He graduated from the École Nationale de la Marine Marchande with a C1NM qualification.