CMA CGM is to convert a series of conventionally fuelled 9,300-teu container ships to run on methanol.

The French liner giant signed the retrofitting contract with China’s Qingdao Beihai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry on Tuesday.

The companies did not disclose the number and names of the vessels involved or the project’s start date.

Shipbuilding sources said MAN Energy Solutions’ methanol dual-fuel S90 engine will be used.

The project will initially involve two ships but is likely to expand to 10, as the liner company holds an option to convert a further eight units.

Sources said work on the first retrofits will start in mid-2025. Each ship will require about 90 days of dry-docking.

One shipbuilding expert estimates CMA CGM will need to spend at least $280m to convert all 10 vessels, with a cost per ship of at least $28m.

TradeWinds has contacted CMA CGM for comment.

CMA CGM is the third liner company moving to convert conventionally powered container ships to run on methanol. The other two are Maersk Line and Cosco Shipping Line.

Maersk is converting an unnamed vessel at Xinya Shipbuilding in Zhoushan, and a series of sister ships will follow.

Cosco is retrofitting two 13,800-teu ships and two 20,000-teu ships at Cosco Shipping Heavy Industry. The Chinese company holds options to convert a further nine vessels.

Maersk Line and Cosco are also partnering MAN Energy on the engines, with the former using the larger G95 and the latter the S90.

One shipping source said there will be more fuel conversion projects for container ships this year.

German liner company Hapag-Lloyd and Canadian shipowner Seaspan are said to be moving ahead with plans to convert their conventionally fuelled neo-panamaxes to run on methanol.

According to Alphaliner, CMA CGM is the third-largest liner company in the world, controlling a fleet of 632 container vessels, of which half are owned.

Clarksons’ Shipping Intelligence Network shows CMA CGM has 96 newbuildings on order in China and South Korea.

More than half of the newbuildings are LNG dual-fuel, while 24 vessels will be powered by methanol.

Last November, CMA CGM was reported to have switched eight methanol dual-fuelled, 9,200-teu boxships it ordered at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding to LNG.

It will cost an additional $10m per vessel because of the LNG fuel gas supply system and cryogenic tank.

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