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Under New CEO, Euronav Plans to Buy 120 Low-Carbon Ships

Courtesy Euronav
Dirty-tanker stalwart no more: the acquisition plan incudes bulkers, boxships and chemical tankers (Euronav)

Published Jan 15, 2024 10:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

Tanker giant Euronav has a new CEO, and he envisions a dramatic course correction. Alexander Saverys, a member of the shipowning family behind Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), took control of Euronav last month after a long battle with John Fredriksen's Frontline. Last Friday, Saverys unveiled plans to diversify into the dry bulk and container segments, with a focus on low-carbon propulsion.  

The new shipbuilding strategy would see Euronav acquire as many as 120 new vessels, all "future-proof" - either through reduced carbon emissions or the ability to run on green fuel. The shipbuilding plans expand on existing orders for the CMB.TECH fleet, which Euronav executives highlighted in Friday's presentation. 

After a long battle with Frontline over control of Euronav, CMB and the Saverys family secured a majority stake in October. Shortly after, Euronav agreed to acquire the Saverys' CMB.TECH subsidiary for $1.15 billion in cash and $2.5 billion in rollover debt. The smaller firm has a fleet of 52 offshore wind vessels, two bulkers, two chemical tankers and one boxship - and it is ordering dozens more, all powered by or ready for conversion to ammonia. The ammonia-powered fleet expansion plan includes 20 ultramax bulkers, 20 containerships of 4,000-10,000 TEU in size, 10 LR2 tankers and 10 chemical tankers. 

The firm has selected ammonia as its future fuel because it has already developed ammonia-powered propulsion options in partnership with WinGD, along with an ammonia bunkering supply chain. It plans to build its own production facility for 185,000 tonnes of green ammonia per year from a plant in Namibia. At a far larger scale, it has offtake agreements for hundreds of thousands of tonnes of blue ammonia from projects in the United States. 

Assuming that shareholders approve the acquisition at a general meeting February 7, Euronav will be renamed CMB.TECH and will take on a new stock ticker symbol, CMBT. The company's tankers will continue to trade under the Euronav brand.

The long-term objective is to transform Euronav from a dirty-tanker specialist into a "reference in green shipping" and "a leading green shipping growth stock." Tankers will still play a part in revenue generation, but an increasing share of the business will reflect CMB.TECH's focus on low-carbon solutions.