French port of Le Havre advances as bunkering site with re-fuelling of LNG-powered polar explorer cruise liner

Tuesday, 28 September 2021
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The French port of Le Havre has entered the liquefied natural gas era by hosting the bunkering of the latest LNG-powered newbuilt polar explorer vessel, “Le Commandant Charcot”, owned by cruise liner operator La Compagnie du Ponant.

The latest addition to the Ponant fleet will offer the farthest reaches of the Arctic and Antarctic regions to luxury travellers with a ship using the cleanest maritime fuel available.

Le Havre has also become an LNG bunkering site as the second-largest commercial port and the largest container port in France.

The Polar cruise liner “Le Commandant Charcot” is named after the renowned French polar scientist and explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot and is the first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by LNG.

The ship is the first passenger ship equipped with high-pressure membrane LNG tanks offering up to two months of autonomy on natural gas, greater flexibility in its bunkering and operations and guaranteeing enhanced safety.

“The ship ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ paves the way for new and more environmentally friendly natural gas propulsion methods and helps to meet the carbon-dioxide reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement.” said Hervé Gastinel, Chief Executive of Ponant.


Gastinel noted that reducing emissions is crucial and “Le Commandant Charcot” will operate on LNG, which is “currently the most environmentally friendly” maritime fuel available.

Switching to LNG in the shipping sector removes completely sulfur oxides and particle emissions and reduces nitrogen-oxide emissions by up to 85 percent.

LNG also emits at least 20 percent less CO2 when compared to traditional maritime fuels.

The fuel for the Le Havre bunkering operation was provided by Finnish natural gas and LNG distribution company Gasum.

“We have been working on this natural gas powered polar exploration ship project for six years and this is already the second LNG bunkering operation we have carried out with Gasum since the delivery of the ship on 29th July 2021,” said Ponant.

Ponant explained that the ship reached the Geographic North Pole for the first time on 6th September 2021, using LNG throughout its journey.

Maritime traffic contributes up to 3 percent of the world’s total greenhouse-gas emissions.

Gasum is a growing supplier of LNG fuel for shipping and is known to offer premium supplies as well as expertise in bunkering services.

“This delivery marks an important step in our cooperation with Ponant,” said Jacob Granqvist, Vice President of Gasum Maritime.

“At the same time we expand our delivery network to a port as significant as Le Havre. Our services for maritime operators all over Europe are becoming even more relevant,” added Granqvist.

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