The revitalised Chantier Naval de Marseille repair yard is targeting LNG carrier refit and maintenance work as an important market sector
Since the acquisition of the yard by San Giorgio del Porto of Genoa in 2010, developments at the French Mediterranean repair yard of Chantier Naval de Marseille (CNM) in the port city of Marseille have gathered pace.
The refurbished Dock No 10 - the largest drydock in the Mediterranean and one of the biggest in the world - has opened for business, while Costa Cruises, part of the Carnival Group, has acquired a 33.3% stake in the yard.
Following the purchase by Costa of its one-third stake in August 2016, the cruise ship operator and San Giorgio del Porto signed a strategic partnership agreement, under which both parties pledged to invest further in the facility.
The arrangement holds the promise of a growing volume of service work on the cruise ship fleet of Costa and other Carnival Group operators, including what will be the Mediterranean’s first LNG-powered cruise vessels when they enter into service in 2019.
CNM’s immediate goal in the LNG sector is to establish itself as an acknowledged global player in the repair of conventional-size LNG carriers (LNGC). CNM has been certified by Gaztransport & Technigaz (GTT) to carry out repairs to its LNGC membrane tanks and two of the yard’s three drydocks are able to accommodate conventional-size LNGCs.
CNM’s immediate goal is to establish itself as an acknowledged global player in the repair of conventional-size LNG carriers"
Since San Giorgio del Porto became involved with the yard in 2010, the CNM facility has carried out a number of LNGC repairs, including on ships operated by LNG Shipping and Hyproc and those chartered by Engie.
Since that early work, emphasis has been placed on the necessary preparations for a breakthrough as a recognised repair facility among the worldwide community of LNGC owners.
CNM has worked to consolidate its relationships with the relevant suppliers of cryogenic LNGC equipment and to train its core LNG team on the latest developments with dual-fuel propulsion technology and cargo containment systems. The yard has also worked closely with the Marseilles Fos Port Authority on the safety and contingency measures that need to be in place for the handling of LNG, either as vessel cargo or fuel.
As part of the marketing drive, CNM is promoting its strategic location on the busy Mediterranean shipping routes. It is also looking to the rapidly growing global fleet of LNGCs and the current, strengthening freight market in the LNGC sector; it cites these as positive factors that will help it become established as a viable European player in the competitive worldwide LNGC repair market.
The in-house expertise gained by the yard through the servicing of conventional-size LNGCs should percolate down quickly into other, related market segments. These would include the routine and special circumstances drydocking of both LNG-fuelled vessels - as highlighted by the Carnival Group connections - and regional LNG bunker vessels and coastal distribution tankers. The capabilities of the third and smallest CNM drydock would be relevant in the context of the latter vessels.
Following on from the servicing of LNGCs, LNG bunker vessels and LNG-fuelled ships, CNM would also be in a position to undertake LNG-related conversion work.
Such conversion projects could entail the retrofit of regasification or reliquefaction plants on existing LNGCs; the conversion of conventionally powered ships to running on LNG; or the upgrade of a propulsion system on an existing LNGC, from steam turbine to a dual-fuel diesel-electric system for example. For shipowners, the current strengthening LNGC freight market boosts the attractiveness of such modification work.