MSC Cruises and Totalenergies Marine Fuels have completed the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) refuelling bunkering operation in Marseille allowing guest operations to continue as normal during the process. 

The best-performing large cruise ship in the world for CO₂ emissions per passenger, the MSC World Europa was refuelled by Totalenergies’ Gas Vitality LNG bunker barge during the operation on 22 April at the Port of Marseille Fos in southern France.

MSC Cruises managing director Patrick Pourbaix described the success as an important milestone for the company. 

He said: “Featuring a range of unprecedented innovations in terms of environmental and marine technologies MSC World Europa represents a major step forward on our journey towards meeting our target of net-zero emissions by 2050.” 

LNG has received increased attention as a transitional fuel for the marine industry as one of the cleanest options currently available at the scale needed for large ships such as MSC World Europa, its use reduces sulphur and fine particle emissions by 99%, nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 85% and greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. 

This operation is the start of a previously announced LNG bunker supply contract between MSC and Totalenergies, which will see the fuel supply company deliver approximately 45,000 tons of LNG to the MSC vessels in Marseille every year. 

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Totalenergies’ lubricants and specialities senior vice-president Phillipe Charleux said: “We are excited to support the Cruise Division of MSC Group in their decarbonisation journey and to help the Port of Marseille Fos become an LNG bunker hub for the Mediterranean region. 

“This operation also expands our LNG bunkering capabilities to the cruise ship segment, demonstrating our ability to serve a broader range of shipping clients, as the industry strives to reduce emissions.” 

There are currently 21 LNG-powered cruise ships in use or construction around the world including MSC Cruises’ next ship Euribia which will launch this year and MSC World America, which is set to launch in early 2025. 

MSC World Europa’s environmentally focussed features also include a solid oxide fuel cell demonstrator that can use LNG to produce electricity and heat, an advanced wastewater treatment system that can treat onboard wastewater to near tap water standards, and an underwater noise management system to reduce disturbance to marine life.