Sports | The first gas liner built in France, delivered to Saint-Nazaire

Saint-Nazaire – The MSC World Europa, the first liner built in France powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas), presented as the least polluting in the world fleet, was delivered Monday to Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique), before leaving for Qatar where it will serve as a floating hotel during the World Cup.

« This ship represents a new step in the reduction of the environmental impact of ocean liners. This ship is the ship with the lowest CO2 emissions per ton of tonnage of the entire world fleet of ocean liners, it is a world record “, argued Laurent Castaing, general manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique, during the delivery ceremony.

The giant of the seas, ordered in June 2018 by the Swiss cruise line MSC, is 333 meters long, 68 meters high and can accommodate 6,700 passengers.

« Instead of the ship and the propulsion being powered by fuel oil, we replaced it with gas. So that means, in terms of environmental efficiency, automatically, at equivalence with fuel oil, it’s 25 % less CO2 », detailed Patrick Pourbaix, Managing Director France at MSC Cruises.

The MSC World Europa also uses a fuel cell prototype, with a capacity of 150 kilowatts, a world first for a ship running on LNG according to MSC Cruises.

« On this boat, we have an area of ​​the ship that we call the Yacht Club. It’s a somewhat special area, it’s a bit like a boat within the boat, a very pleasant formula, which can accommodate 300 passengers. Eh well, the equivalent of what a fuel cell can produce is what the Yacht Club needs entirely », explained Patrick Pourbaix.

– No « zero emission » ship yet –

« Liquefied natural gas, it reduces almost all sulfur oxide emissions, » acknowledged Fanny Pointet, responsible for maritime transport in France for the NGO Transport and Environment joined by AFP.

But « the promotion of gas in maritime transport is not a good idea, because in terms of climate, it is bad, in terms of energy security, it is bad », he said. she nuanced, insisting that “Europe is trying to emancipate itself from its dependence on Russia for gas”.

“If we chose the option of natural gas (…) it is because today, it is the fuel which is the most accessible. We could perhaps accelerate the transition to hydrogen. The problem is that we do not find enough hydrogen today on Earth to power our ships”, underlined for his part Patrick Pourbaix.

« Today, our order book only includes ships that can use either LNG or methanol. Today, the version that can be described as + green +, that is to say non-emitting , of these fuels, does not yet exist. But as soon as we have these fuels in zero-emission form, we will be able to use them and we will be able to have zero-emission ships », assured Laurent Castaing.

The delivery of the MSC World Europa consisted of a blessing according to Catholic tradition and a bottle was broken on the hull of the luxurious ship, which will leave Saint-Nazaire on Wednesday morning for Qatar, where it will be inaugurated on November 13.

The organizers of the FIFA World Cup « were considering building hotels, but obviously it’s only for one season, so they looked for cruise ships to substitute for hotels, because we can offer many rooms, and that’s how the conversation started, » MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago told AFP.

« We have chartered two ships in Qatar and Fifa, » said Mr. Pourbaix. « The first two weeks, for the qualifications, the boats are full, so much so that we have put in place a third boat, smaller, which will complete the offer. »

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