Home World HAROPA PORT and SOGEPP look to the Seine for biofuel distribution

HAROPA PORT and SOGEPP look to the Seine for biofuel distribution

A river barge carrying ethanol –  operated by riverboat line SOGESTRAN – discharged its load on Friday 17 February at the river terminal of SOGEPP’s depot at the port of Gennevilliers. The barge was delivering ethanol transhipped on board from a seagoing vessel at Le Havre.

A specific biofuels logistics chain is ramping up capacity along the Seine Axis. New flows managed by SOGEPP  are making use of multimodality to provide a competitive, decarbonised solution for carrying energy products which have until now mainly been transported by road. The development of ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, is the focus of keen expectation for the contribution it can make to decarbonising manufacturing and transport activities.

SOGEPP operates a storage depot for liquid energy products on six hectares in Gennevilliers’ port area. The company is an important link in the Greater Paris fuel distribution chain. It distributes mainly to service stations in the Greater Paris and neighbouring regions. SOGEPP’s site at Gennevilliers is the first Paris area depot to invest in river logistics for the development of biobased, sustainable liquid energy products. This strategic choice is very much in line with the energy transition that has now begun along the Seine Axis as a whole.


SOGEPP approached HAROPA PORT with a view to giving a renewed boost to river traffic to and from its facilities in Gennevilliers. The goal is to develop this traffic between Normandy’s seaports and the Paris area. Petroleum products that cannot be sent via oil pipelines (such as ethanol and biodiesel) can be carried on the river. HAROPA’s Paris office proposed to the firm that it would build a transhipment facility as a practical solution for the desired traffic.

This facility was delivered by HAROPA PORT in June 2022. By the end of 2022 SOGEPP was able to obtain itsregulatory permits and set up transhipment infrastructure on the jetty for discharging and loading liquid energy products. The operating permit for the jetty and the commissioning of the tanks to hold massive quantities of ethanol were obtained in November 2022 after completion of the work for the petroleum product installations.

This project by SOGEPP embodies an approach that is virtuous from two standpoints. The first is that it aims to reduce the carbon footprint of Gennevilliers supply flows. The second relates to SOGEPP’s intention to develop further biobased energy products such as HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil). This is a paraffinic diesel certified as sustainable since it is obtained from vegetable oils or household waste (animal fats, cooking oil, waste oil, etc.). SOGEPP also wishes to develop B100, a biofuel 100% composed of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME).


This river logistics project has received funding from France’s Waterways Authority (VNF) for the modernisation of the barge discharging installations. Support provided under the modal transfer aid plan, itself co-financed by the Greater Paris regional administration. Management of the construction of the required river infrastructure was entrusted to HAROPA PORT. The port provided €1.1m in funding to build the jetty and €2.65m for modification ofthe riverbanks in its vicinity. The cost of the jetty superstructure required for operations is borne by SOGEPP, assisted by teams from Raffinerie du Midi where the engineering and administrative formalities are concerned.

At the end of 2022, the docking of the Thierry M, a CFT/SOGESTRAN self-propelled barge, enabled validation of jetty placement and connections. Following this, the SOGEPP depot received its first barge carrying ethanol on Monday 16 January last. Since that date, barges have been calling at the facility on a regular basis.

The prospects for growth in ethanol traffic in the Greater Paris area appear to be bright. This is notably so because of a “catch-up” effect in the region, which has been lagging with regard to this energy product compared with other regions. SOGEPP’s forward estimates for this can be added to a possibility that additional maritime flows of this product can be captured from Northern European ports – replacing traffic that currently goes by road – handled by certain operators. SOGEPP is setting out to achieve a position as a hub for such flows going to the Paris area, targeting 12,000 tonnes this year and 20,000 tonnes annually in the coming years. Ultimately, SOGEPP will be proposing a biofuels service offering that could also generate maritime flows estimated at some 18,000 tonnes a year. SOGEPP is also continuing to work on a “riverisation” solution for crude oil traffic from Greater Paris to refineries in Normandy.

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