French oil company Total has entered a long-term charter agreement with Japanese shipping firm Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) for a second large liquified natural gas (LNG) bunker ship.

The partners have selected China-based Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding for the bunker vessel construction.

Expected to be delivered by 2021, the vessel will be deployed in France’s Marseille-Fos area.

TMFGS managing director Jérôme Leprince-Ringuet said: “We are proud to launch with MOL the first large LNG bunkering vessel in France.

“LNG is the best available alternative to reduce shipping environmental footprint as it significantly improves air quality and strongly contributes to greenhouse gases reduction.

“With this agreement, we reaffirm today our positive contribution to the sustainable shipping industry and our commitment to offering our customers a comprehensive network of supply for this clean marine fuel.”

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The 135m-long vessel will be able to transport 18,600m³ of LNG. It will feature the Mark III membrane containment system from the French company GTT.

The ship will supply LNG bunker in the Mediterranean area to various types of vessels such as tankers, containerships, ferries and large cruise ships.

By using LNG as propulsion fuel and combining a re-liquefaction of the boil-off gas, the ship will be able to comply with the highest technical and environmental standards.

MOL and its LNG transportation partner Gazocean will operate the vessel under the French flag.

MOL managing executive officer Kenta Matsuzaka said: “This is the second LNG bunker vessel for Total, and we are extremely honoured that the company has selected us as a partner. We believe this project will further solidify our relationship. In recent years, the role of LNG has changed enormously.”

In November, Total introduced its first LNG bunker ship in Shanghai. The vessel will deliver LNG to CMA CGM 23,000 TEU1 containerships in Northern Europe.