Oil tanker fleet Euronav shifts into ‘greener’ gear with CMB.Tech

The Belgian oil tanker company Euronav, specializing in the transportation and storage of crude oil, is gearing up for a ‘greener’ future with the take-over of CMB.Tech. That Belgian cleantech maritime group builds, owns, operates, and designs large marine and industrial applications running on hydrogen, ammonia, or dual fuels.

It’s a significant step to gradually ‘greening’ its fleet of crude oil tankers, a strategic goal of the Saverys family, who once started the company and is now Euronav’s major shareholder again. After buying out Norwegian Frontline and selling them for 2,35 billion dollars, 24 supertankers, or about a third of the total fleet.

Betting on ammonia and hydrogen

That deal resulted from a fierce fight over Euronav’s ‘greener’ future based on hydrogen and ammonia, among others, proposed by Alexander Saverys and his family, a strategic course the other shareholder(s) didn’t want to follow.

Saverys has long been a vivid advocate of greening the Euronav fleet. “And now we are a big step closer in practice,” he said at the buy-out time. “CMB.Tech, a subsidiary of CMB that is betting on ammonia and hydrogen, among other things, will get a serious boost. That must be funded, and that’s why we need the grant. We already have a greener fleet at CMB; we will add that to Euronav.”

1,15 billion dollar take-over

With the take-over of CMB-Tech for 1,15 billion dollars (€1,04 billion) from Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) shipping group, also owned by the Saverys family, the latter is a fact today.

According to the press release, “CMB and Euronav believe that the addition of CMB.Tech to Euronav’s business will enable a flywheel strategy – positioning the group to tap into each step of the energy transition toward low-carbon shipping, with a clear vision of value creation for its shareholders.”

After the take-over, the Saverys family proposes to use the CMB.Tech’s name as the overall group’s name to emphasize the ‘green strategy’ and keep the Euronav name for the tanker fleet division.

Four divisions

CMB.Today, Tech operates in four different divisions, the largest being the marine division. It develops and builds a range of low and zero-carbon ships powered by dual-fuel diesel-hydrogen, diesel-ammonia, and monofuel hydrogen engines.

That includes offshore wind support vessels, dry bulk vessels, container vessels, chemical tankers, and others (tugboats and ferries). It developed, among others, the world’s first hydrogen-powered tugboat, baptized appositely ‘Hydrotug 1’, which has arrived at its workstation in the Antwerp Port to start its real-world testing from mid-January.

CMB.Tech’s H2 infra division offers hydrogen and ammonia fuel and designs the necessary technology and infrastructure, like Belgium’s first multimodal hydrogen filling station in the Port of Antwerp, serving road and maritime transport.

The third, the Industry Division, develops hydrogen-powered heavy-duty industrial applications, such as converting existing diesel engines into dual-fuel and mono-fuel hydrogen engines. The Technology & Development Center, with over 60 specialized engineers, is the heart of the company’s innovation and development activities.

World’s first gas tankers on ammonia

Not only Alexander Saverys, now CEO of both CMB and Euronav but also the whole Saverys family follows him to put his money where his mouth is, taking the forefront of greening the world’s tanker business.

Exmar, a leading player in transporting liquefied gas products like LPG, butane, propane, and ammonia, has ordered the world’s first two gas tankers that can run on the ammonia they transport. The company will be led from January 2024 by 34-year-old Carl-Antoine Saverys, son of Nicolas Saverys (65), the major shareholder.

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