Norway backs green ships to tune of NOK 10Bn

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 €1Bn Euro for the construction of 35 eco-friendly vessels over the last four years.

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 €1Bn Euro 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.

“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. “I am very proud of Eksfin’s involvement in securing this project for one of Norway’s top maritime exporters. Our export financing package was important in influencing the shipowner’s choice amid fierce competition between shipbuilders in Finland, German and Norway”, said Lunde Bakker.

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 €162.4m, with risk guarantees totalling an even higher €182.7m.

“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.

Eksfin earlier contributed to the financing of six expedition cruise ships also built by VARD for PONANT, but this seventh ship is unique and, as the world’s first hybrid-electric, LNG-powered vessel with icebreaking capacity, the first ever of its type. “The delivery of Le Commandant Charcot and its superior environmental credentials reinforces Norway’s position as a leading producer of high-value, high-end vessels and technology. It is a great example of how we can work together with exporters and financial institutions to facilitate winning bids,” said Ms. Lunde Bakker.

Other Norwegian companies made use of Eksfin’s financing for green ship projects including Hurtigruten for hybrid cruiseships; 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.

“Our new Eksfin structure makes it much easier and simpler for shipping customers and exporters to access advisory services and state-backed financing for complex projects. As a trusted partner with a streamlined approach and minimal red tape, our triple-A rated financial instruments available at competitive rates are invaluable in securing contracts in a demanding market. We’re also proud to be working with forward-leaning stakeholders spearheading the move towards greener shipping of the future,” said Lunde Bakker.

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