The Beauvais A trial run for the maritime transport of LNG

The Beauvais pioneers the transport of liquefied natural gas, opening the way to an entire dynasty of LNG carriers in France.

July 1959: France acquires its first experimental ship, the Beauvais, through the state gas company Gaz de France. A former Liberty ship used by the United States in World War II, the vessel enjoys a second life thanks to this mission. In 1961, the ship is disarmed in Dunkirk, then repaired and refitted at Penhoët, the former Saint-Nazaire shipyard. Operated by the Compagnie Nantaise des Chargeurs de l’Ouest on behalf of Méthane Transport, the ship begins its new role in 1962.

May 15, 1962: The experimental ship sets out to sea with a full cargo of LNG in its storage tanks. The goal: to test laboratory theories under real-life conditions and compare the different solutions implemented on board. All storage tanks, insulation layers, anchoring systems and accessories (pumps, pipelines, sluice gates, safety mechanisms) are scrupulously monitored. On July 2, the Beauvais delivers its cargo at the Roche-Maurice testing station in Nantes by means of articulated offloading arms after traveling up the Loire River.

The Beauvais enables shipyards to test equipment under real-life conditions before proceeding with the construction of France’s first LNG carrier.


The Jules Verne France’s first LNG carrier

The Jules Verne, the ship that started it all is now celebrating its 50th anniversary!

June 27, 1962: The company Gaz Marine orders the first French LNG carrier—the  future Jules Verne—from the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime shipyard, located in Le Trait.

March 28, 1965: the Jules Verne delivers its first LNG cargo to the Le Havre terminal! This date marks the beginning of France’s industrial history in LNG. The Jules Verne LNG carrier begins a series of global trips of 3,400 km each. It can perform 33 trips per year between Algeria and Le Havre, and has a 25,840-m3 storage capacity, roughly equivalent to 10 Olympic-size swimming pools.

After several LNG carriers are grounded in 1979 and 1980, Gaz de France decides to develop a technique for the transshipment of cargo. The technique’s goal is to optimize the flow of traffic, transport safety and use of the LNG carrier fleet. From September 11 to 14, 1982, an LNG cargo of 22,000 m3 is transshipped for the first time between two LNG carriers, the Edouard L.D. and the Jules Verne, at Fos-sur-Mer.

Exiting the GDF SUEZ fleet in 1988, the Jules Verne is sold to the Dutch company Dalmeyer. It later returns to the Mediterranean with the Spanish company Gaz Natural and is disassembled in 2008 after 43 years of good and loyal service.

Télécharger la brochure d'époque (PDF, 2.5 Mo)


The Descartes 50,000 m3 of LNG capacity

As the maritime transport of LNG takes off, the Descartes takes the industry to the next level with its expanded capacity.

1971 sees the launch of two LNG carriers: the Descartes and Hassi R’Mel.

Both ships are noteworthy for their significantly greater transport capacity: 50,000 m3 and 40,000 m3 respectively. Worldwide, there are now nine large LNG carriers with a combined 380,000-m3 capacity and two small LNG carriers with a combined 9,120-m3 capacity.

The Descartes becomes the first LNG carrier with a full cargo to cross the Suez Canal in 1977.

Messigaz, a subsidiary of Gaz de France (40%) and the Compagnie Générale Maritime (60%), acquires the Descartes in 1991 in co-ownership with Gazocéan. GDF SUEZ continues to charter the ship for another 10 years.


The Édouard L.D. Connecting Britain and Algeria

The Édouard L.D. serves as a mainstay of the early LNG routes between France and Algeria before taking part in the first successful transshipment operation.

Completed in 1977, the Édouard L.D. LNG carrier offers a 125,000-m3 capacity. Owned by the weapons manufacturer Louis Dreyfus, GDF SUEZ acquires the ship’s charter from Sagape (Société d’Achat du Gaz Algérien Pour l’Europe). Built at the Chantiers de France-Dunkerque shipyard, the LNG carrier features the Gaz Transport technique of storage tanks insulated with an Invar membrane. Developed to travel between Arzew and the future Montoir-de-Bretagne LNG terminal, the ship remains on standby until the terminal is commissioned in 1980.

After several LNG carriers are grounded in 1979 and 1980, Gaz de France decides to develop a technique for the transshipment of cargo. The technique’s goal is to optimize the flow of traffic, transport safety and use of the LNG carrier fleet. From September 11 to 14, 1982, an LNG cargo of 22,000 m3 is transshipped for the first time between two LNG carriers, the Édouard L.D. and the Jules Verne, at Fos-sur-Mer.

Following the end of its charter with Gaz de France in March 2008, the Édouard L.D. undergoes a long period of maintenance at the Keppel shipyard in Singapore. Later purchased by Dynagas, it continues its service life under a Liberian flag.


The Matthew An American itinerary

Despite several service shutdowns and repairs, the Matthew continues to operate on routes across the Atlantic.

Built in 1979 in the United States by Newport News Shipbuilding, this LNG carrier changed its name on several occasions: El Paso Howard Boyd, Gamma (1983), Matthew (1998), Suez Matthew (2006) and back to Matthew in 2009. It is one of three LNG carriers using a Technigaz membrane built by El Paso LNG Company. At the time, the United States was encouraging shipyards to build LNG carriers to ensure its supply of LNG from Algeria.

However, the country significantly cut its natural gas imports in 1980 and several ships were placed on standby or disassembled. The Matthew remained on standby for 16 years before returning to service.

The current owner of the ship is GDF SUEZ Energy North America (United States), part of GDF SUEZ.

In 2012, the Matthew was renovated by means of a new technology using infrared cameras to inspect storage tank insulation, called TAMI. Developed by GTT, the technology is used to detect and repair flaws in storage tank insulation.


The BW GDF SUEZ Boston Charting new routes

Egypt, Chile, Dubai: the BW GDF SUEZ Boston delivers LNG to every corner of the globe.

Built in 2003, the BW GDF SUEZ Boston operates under a Norwegian flag.

Measuring 277 m in length, the LNG carrier has a 138,000-m3 capacity.

2010: The ship opens a new route in the Pacific by passing through the Strait of Magellan to deliver LNG produced at Idku in Egypt to Chile. Approximately 90,000 m3 of LNG are offloaded into the storage tanks of the BW GDF SUEZ Brussels, an LNG carrier chartered by GNL Mejillones (Chile), a joint-stock company owned by GDF SUEZ and CODELCO.

2013: The BW GDF SUEZ Boston becomes the first ship to deliver LNG to the Jebel Ali terminal near Dubai.


THE GDF SUEZ Global EnergY A new generation at sea

A highly innovative ship, the GDF SUEZ Global EnergY paves the way for the LNG carriers of the 21st century.

In 2002, the Chantiers de l’Atlantique à Saint-Nazaire shipyard begins construction of a new LNG carrier: the Gaz de France EnergY.

Commissioned in 2006, the 74 000 m3 ship features a major innovation: a hybrid propulsion system running on natural gas. More efficient and cost-effective, diesel electric engines are used in place of steam engines on this ship. This innovation is particularly noteworthy as the majority of LNG carriers built after this date now use this propulsion system.

The ship is now known as the GDF SUEZ Global EnergY.


THE PROVALYS An LNG carrier powered by natural gas

Representative of the new generation of LNG carriers, the Provalys brilliantly combines power and environmental performance.

With a capacity of 153,500 m3 of LNG, the Provalys was the world’s largest LNG carrier when it joined the GDF SUEZ fleet in 2006. It connects the Idku liquefaction plant in Egypt with the Fos Cavaou plant in France.

Like the Gaz de France EnergY, the Provalys is equipped with a hybrid propulsion system (diesel-electric) running on natural gas.


THE GDF SUEZ NEPTUNE The first LNG regasification vessel

Equipped with cutting-edge technology, the GDF SUEZ Neptune offers the ability to regasify liquefied natural gas (LNG), a major advantage for GDF SUEZ.

2009: GDF SUEZ commissions the GDF SUEZ Neptune, its first LNG regasification vessel. Using a system of vaporizers, the ship can regasify liquefied natural gas (LNG) and discharge it under high pressure directly into the network via offshore facilities. It notably serves the Neptune Deepwater Port terminal located off the coast of Massachusetts in the United States, which is owned by GDF SUEZ and was commissioned in early 2010. It will soon serve the GNL del Plata floating terminal in Uruguay until the delivery of a new regasification vessel.

“The addition of the GDF SUEZ Neptune LNG carrier strengthens the Group’s fleet and its ability to transport LNG around the world, including markets not currently equipped with onshore regasification terminals.”

Jean-Marie Dauger, Executive Vice-President of GDF SUEZ

Featuring storage tanks equipped with GTT MKIII-reinforced membranes, the ship can transport up to 145,000 m3 of LNG. It has three high-performance regasification units capable of producing 21 million m3 of liquefied natural gas per day. It can also serve as a conventional LNG carrier.

The GDF SUEZ Neptune features a diesel-electric fuel propulsion system, which offers greater efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The technology recovers natural evaporation from its LNG cargo for use as fuel.

May 2010: GDF SUEZ receives an identical LNG regasification vessel, the GDF SUEZ Cape Ann, used in Tianjin (China) to regasify LNG intended for markets in China.