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Eksfin Nears €1 Billion in Loan Financing for Green Ship Projects

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Norwegian export credit agency Eksfin (formerly Export Credit Norway and GIEK) is playing a major role in accelerating the ‘green shift’ at sea, providing loan guarantees approaching  €1 billion for the construction of 35 eco-friendly vessels over the last four years – including ‘Le Commandant Charcot’, the world’s most exclusive polar exploration cruise ship recently delivered to French cruise line PONANT by Norwegian shipbuilder VARD.
Eksfin Nears €1 Billion in Loan Financing for Green Ship Projects
Photo ©PONANT/STIRLING DESIGN INTERNATIONAL

Milestone figure

Our job at Eksfin is to promote Norwegian exports globally and boost the financial capacity of Norwegian industry. In the shipping space we are helping shipowners, shipyards and equipment sub-suppliers to finance an increasing number of vessels featuring alternative fuels or new technologies that reduce harmful emissions. We are now close to the milestone figure of NOK 10bn and will continue to pursue projects with a strong environmental profile reflecting the industry trend towards more sustainable operations,” said Eksfin CEO Tone Lunde Bakker.

The delivery from VARD Søviknes of ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ serves to highlight Eksfin’s decisive role in financing such projects. VARD won the PONANT contract thanks in part to Eksfin’s state-backed loan and risk guarantees.

Marseille-based PONANT contributed a significant amount of the contract position from its own resources, with Eksfin providing the outstanding monies in cooperation with French banks. The Eksfin loan amounted to €162.4 million, with risk guarantees totalling an even higher €182.7 million.

“PONANT aims at proposing purposeful and sustainable luxury experience aboard small ships. ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ is the latest and the most iconic member of our fleet with an ultra-luxurious vessel sailing in never-yet-cruised destinations with unique environmental features. Eksfin’s efficient assistance together with our lenders helped to make this extraordinary ship a reality,” said PONANT CFO Mr. Alexis Blavette.

PONANT estimates that using LNG will reduce emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) by 95%, 85% and 25%, respectively, compared to conventional cruise ships. ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ is also designed for optimal energy efficiency and minimal footprint using innovative systems engineered by VARD’s specialized business units. The ship’s comprehensive electrical solution features state-of-the-art battery technology from Norway’s Corvus Energy.

PONANT will deploy the 245-passenger ship on polar cruises to the Arctic and Antarctica. Shipping activity in these highly remote areas is subject to strict regulation. In line with PONANT’s strong emphasis on environmental considerations across its activities, ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ has been certified by French classification society Bureau Veritas not only with PC2 polar ice class, but also with ‘Clean Ship’ and ‘Comfort Class’ status thanks to cutting-edge technologies that reduce not only environmental impact but also noise and vibration while ensuring the highest level of safety.

Facilitating polar research

‘Le Commandant Charcot’ is also equipped with research facilities that will enable the scientific community to study and analyse water, air, ice and biological diversity at the extreme poles. It will access some of the world’s remotest spots including the Geographic North Pole (90 degrees north), Northeast Greenland National Park and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic and the Bellingshausen Sea, Peter I and Charcot Islands and the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

Blazing green trail

Other Norwegian companies made use of Eksfin’s financing for green ship projects including Hurtigruten for hybrid cruise ships; ferry operators Norled, Boreal and Fjord1 for diesel-electric, hydrogen-electric and fully electric ferries; Color Line for what is the world’s largest hybrid cruise-ferry; fishing company Cetus for onshore power connection; and tanker operator Altera Shuttle Tanker for LNG-powered tankers with volatile compound (VOC) emissions recovery.

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