Marseille Fos Accelerates Air Emissions Cuts

July 24, 2019

File image / AdobeStock / © dbvirago
File image / AdobeStock / © dbvirago

Among a string of new eco-friendly initiatives, the Marseille Fos port authority is to spend $22 million over the next six years to extend shoreside electrical connections for berthed vessels to every ferry, cruiseship and repair quay within the Marseille eastern harbor.

Already available on the Corsica ferry quays, the network will be expanded in two phases to cover North Africa ferry quays and the shiprepair hub by 2022 and the cruise terminal between 2022 and 2025.  

The zero-emissions investment - backed by national and regional government – recognizes the need to maintain the port’s value to the economy while improving the city’s waterside air quality.  Marseille Fos CEO Hervé Martel commented: “We are convinced that ecological transition is the springboard to economic growth.  That’s why we are investing heavily to become the Mediterranean’s first 100% electric port by 2025.”      

M. Martel recently joined a regional government delegation that visited Tunisia’s transport minister and gained an undertaking for a techno-economic study into the electrification of quays at La Goulette, the port of Tunis.  Such provision in Tunis as well as Marseille is seen as crucial in encouraging the two ferry operators on the route to equip their ships for the facility.

Among further steps to reduce ship emissions, Marseille Fos has introduced speed restrictions of 10 knots in the port approaches and 8 knots within the harbors.  The limits apply to all vessels and comply with State and regional government policies that also target vehicle and industrial air pollution.

In another initiative, voyage planning specialist Searoutes has unveiled the pilot version of its eco-calculator for measuring the environmental impact of shipments throughout the supply chain.  Under the Smart Port Challenge, the Marseille Fos port authority chose the locally-based company to develop a prototype that is also on trial at Antwerp and Rotterdam.  

The Shift by Searoutes tool allows shippers to calculate and compare greenhouse gas emissions in relation to routing options, weather forecasts, ship characteristics and intermodal road, rail or river links.  Marseille Fos expects the transparency and reliability of the calculations to confirm the value of its inland connections.  As a new company, Searoutes has been supported since January this year by CMA CGM’s ZEBOX scheme, a start-up incubator and accelerator for technological innovation.

Meanwhile 12 shipping companies have qualified for 2-3% reductions in Marseille Fos port dues as a reward for cutting air emissions below regulatory requirements over the past year.  

The incentive was introduced in July 2017 after the port joined the World Ports Climate Initiative, whose Environmental Ship Index (ESI) has been adopted by 50 ports handling more than a quarter of the global fleet.  The ESI measures NOx, SOx and CO2 reduction performance for ships at berth on a scale of zero to 100.  At Marseille Fos, the scheme applies to containerships and cruise vessels with scores of 35 and above, the ‘cold ironing’ mark for ships using shoreside electrical power instead of onboard diesel generators.  

Based on 209 calls, awards were presented to cruise operators AIDA, Costa and MSC and container carriers Arkas, CMA CGM, Cosco, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, MSC, OOCL and Yang Ming.  Apart from quayside electrification, the port has also supported owners on emissions cuts by providing LNG supplies by truck since 2017 and very soon will add a dedicated barge service.

In June, confirming Mediterranean-wide support for anti-pollution measures, Marseille Fos hosted the annual forum of the year-old MEDports Association on the theme of how to meet environmental challenges.  The 200-strong attendance of maritime transport professionals included representatives from all 24 member ports, with energy transition and logistics innovation among the major talking points.

Marseille Fos river link attracts hazardous cargo forwarders  
Freight forwarders XPO Logistics and LPO Sogena have become the latest users of the Medlink Safe service launched in July 2016 to promote river transport for hazardous cargo moves between inland hub Lyon and leading French port Marseille Fos.  

More than 20 forwarders are now accredited under Medlink Safe, which offers a package of operational and commercial incentives that helped boost containerized export volumes by 67% in 2018.  Safety, security and reliability are maximized by assured loading slots, guaranteed immediate handling on arrival in port, simplified declaration procedures and special yard storage at discounted rates.  

The dangerous goods initiative was conceived by Medlink Ports, the multimodal association of seaports Marseille Fos, Sete and Toulon, eight inland ports on the Rhone-Saone axis, three inland waterways authorities and some 30 partners including transport operators, stevedores and shippers.

Medlink Safe was created in close cooperation with association member Compagnie Nationale du Rhone.  Together with the Marseille Fos and Lyon port authorities, other members involved in the service include Lyon Terminal and barge operators Logi Ports Shuttle and Greenmodal.

In a separate initiative, further backing for the development of hazardous cargo traffic has emerged from a year-long study into the potential for transporting chemical products in the Rhone-Saone-Mediterranean basin.  The study was launched by trade association France Chimie in partnership with the Marseille Fos and river authorities.  

A key finding revealed that river services currently handle only 6% of chemicals volumes compared with 85% by road and 9% by rail.  With exports worth some 80% of this traffic in 2018, France Chimie wants to double the waterways market share and will now prepare an action plan stressing the mode’s competitive, safety and environmental advantages.

Recycling project reveals energy potential from waste gas                                                                                                                                         A three-year research program involving the Marseille Fos port authority and 12 partners has confirmed the commercial potential of recycling untreated industrial CO2 emissions via a new seaweed-based biological process to produce biomass energy.

The Vasco2 experiment was centerd in the Fos industrial zone and included companies based there together with leading research institutes.  Initial tests were carried out in 10m2 x 160m2 cultivation basins, with the product ultimately refined into biofuel at the Total research center earlier this year.  In April, cultivation was stepped up in 3,000m2 lagoons and the results supported the ambition to produce and store the waste gas for biomass transition.  The port authority is now leading discussions to launch the last stage of the project, which aims to demonstrate the viability of the process on an industrial scale.                    

Port renews UNCTAD training link
Marseille Fos and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have renewed their TrainForTrade partnership – dating back to 1996 – under which the port provides courses for trainees from French-speaking countries in the developing world.

The latest five-year agreement was signed in Marseille by UNCTAD secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi and port CEO Hervé Martel and coincided with the start of a two-week program for 30 trainees from African ports.  A ‘port certification’ awarded on completion of the courses enables participants to become instructors in their home ports.  Marseille Fos has trained more than 500 personnel under the scheme.    

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