Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Container Shipping Line Invests in US Freight Terminal and Technology of the Future

As Work Progresses on Future Fuels so to Shore Side Operations See Acquisition
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – US – True to form the diversification policy pursued by French container shipping line CMA CGM continues unabated with the news it has signed an agreement to acquire a 90% stake in the Fenix Marine Services (FMS) terminal in Los Angeles, currently held by EQT Infrastructure III.

The deal means that CMA CGM, which already holds 10% of the terminal, will soon become sole owner subject to the approval of the competent regulatory authorities, for a facility which has an enterprise value of $2.3 billion. In recent months CMA CGM has made a similar terminal investment in the UAE, formed an eCommerce partnership In the US, acquired shares in Brittany Ferries, upgraded its airfreight operations and even become involved in the space sector.

After it goes through the French line will own the rights to the third largest terminal in the Los Angeles/Long Beach port area in terms of capacity at around 2.5 million TEU, and one of the largest in North America. The terminal also benefits from a long-term concession agreement stretching out to 2043.

In terms of capability the FMS terminal has a strategic deep-water location and boasts first-class infrastructure which includes 4 berths, all over 1,000 feet with 50 foot drafts. These are supplied by 16 cranes including 8 capable of handling some of the very largest vessels. Support comes from a 292 acre container yard, a supply of 700, 24/7 hour monitored reefer plugs and eight rail tracks within its perimeter.

CMA CGM has already announced plans to extend these facilities with yard expansion, increased rail capacity and construction of a fifth berth, plus the continuation of the terminal’s digital transformation already begun under the previous administration. The purchase means by early 2022 the terminal will see the arrival of the first CMA CGM liquefied natural gas-powered 15,000-TEU ships to be deployed on routes between  plannedAsia and the United States.

Meanwhile in the same vein CMA CGM today gave an update to its plans, first launched in Marseille in conjunction with other French groups, ENGIE, Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence and TotalEnergies. to develop a synthetic methane production and distribution industry that can be used by the shipping sector.

ENGIE is leading further synthetic methane production industrial projects in which CMA CGM will have the possibility to invest, including by means of multi-year purchase commitments. These projects will harness various technologies, such as pyro-gasification or methanation using green hydrogen and captured CO2.

The partnership also covers the analysis of future regulations, as well as efforts to raise awareness of the benefits of BioLNG and synthetic methane for the decarbonisation of the shipping industry and points out liquefied natural gas (LNG) can reduce today's sulphur oxide emissions by 99%, fine particle emissions by 91% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 92%.

The CMA CGM Group currently has 20 ‘e-methane ready’ vessels equipped with dual-fuel engines and running on LNG and will have 44 ‘e-methane’ vessels by year-end 2024. The group claims that its policies have helped to cut the group’s overall carbon emissions by 4% in 2020, following on from a 6% reduction in 2019. The Group has lowered its carbon emissions per container-kilometre by 49% since 2008.

The dual-fuel gas-power technology developed by CMA CGM and currently using LNG is already capable of using BioLNG and synthetic methane. In this context, CMA CGM and ENGIE are joining forces to champion the production and distribution industry. Biomethane can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 67% compared to VLSFO (Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil) on a well-to-wake basis (entire value chain). Synthetic methane, meanwhile, will eliminate the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo: The FMS terminal