Outlining a vision for a “revitalised French maritime sector”, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe called for “new thinking, supportive policy and a clear focus” to help support the uptake of LNG within French waters.
“I will not offend anyone if I say that France does not have port traffic worthy of its coastline, its internal market and its place in Europe. And I will not surprise anyone if I say that if we do nothing, it will not work out,” Philippe said.
Greater oversight at Le Havre, Marseille and Dunkirk
The minister called for greater policy focus and oversight of the port regions of Le Havre, Marseille and Dunkirk as a preliminary step to build up the country’s LNG infrastructure. It is hoped that revisions to tax legislation will be forthcoming to stimulate investment and intermodal development and optimize for greater LNG deployment.
The North Sea ports of Le Havre, Marseille and Dunkirk face tough competition from the neighbouring ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, all of which have advanced their LNG infrastructure considerably in recent years.
“We have to move. Quick. And not a little. Because without powerful ports, no maritime power. No port industry, no jobs, no future for Le Havre, Marseille, Dunkirk. No France in globalization,” Philippe added.
Praise for CMA CGM order
Following the success of world-first deployments of LNG bunkering equipment and barges at Antwerp and Rotterdam, the French government is keen to play on its own domestic shipping strengths to spur the next phase of growth.
French shipping lines Brittany Ferries and CMA CGM were praised by Phillipe for their recent high-profile orders for LNG-fuelled vessel. CMA CGM Group announced this month that nine newbuild vessels - the largest containerships in the world – will all be powered by LNG.
“I welcome the lead… We must make this transition a differentiating element in the marketplace. On transportation and port supply. Because standards evolve very fast. Because public opinion, and so much the better, is more and more sensitive. Because not preparing a predictable evolution is already falling behind. That is why the State will adapt the regulations on this fuel to facilitate the supply of ships in ports,” Phillipe commented.