The Port of Riga has begun servicing LNG-powered container vessels with the arrival of Containerships Polar, one of the world’s first LNG-fuelled vessels.

Owned by the CMA CGM subsidiary Containerships, Containerships Polar and its sister ship Containerships Nord are the first two LNG-fuelled vessels in existence.

It is planned that they will arrive at the Latvian port three times a week, along with an additional third LNG vessel later this year.

The Port of Riga said that it had taken a major step towards achieving its aim of becoming a green port while reducing its environmental impact.

As the new LNG vessels are among the largest containerships that regularly visit the Port of Riga, the volume of container cargo is also expected to increase.

LNG is becoming popular as a shipping fuel due to lower carbon emissions and diminished air pollution. Unlike other fuels, burning of natural gas does not result in harmful sulphur oxide emissions, as the fuel contains negligible amounts of sulphur oxide.

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Containerships manager of Latvia and Estonia Kristaps Jakovļevs said: “Some European markets shipments of Containerships customers are already delivered by LNG powered vehicles.

“Together with the first LNG-powered container vessels, they will form a complete cycle of green logistics.

“In the nearest future, we also plan to introduce an LNG car fleet in Latvia, reducing the environmental impact and shifting towards 100% green logistics.”

Freeport of Riga deputy CEO Mārtiņš Ziemanis claimed that the regular servicing of LNG vessels at the port would align with development plans of the port and global trends.

Ziemanis said: “One of our development priorities requires use of environmentally friendly technologies, and the other [a] significant increase in the number of handled containers.

“The development programme adopted last year sets an ambitious goal; increasing the volume of container cargo to 1 million handled TEU units per year in 10 years.

“As this volume keeps growing annually, we believe that this goal is achievable. During the first six months of this year, we managed to achieve record-high turnover by handling 238.2 TEU units, which is 5.6% more than a year ago.”