French energy major Total and Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines have attended a naming ceremony in the Dutch port of Rotterdam for the “Gas Agility”, the world’s largest LNG bunkering vessel.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries has held a naming ceremony at the Sakaide shipyard for Japan’s first liquefied natural gas bunkering vessel, the “Kaguya”, as Japanese companies respond to the International Maritime Organization’s campaign for cleaner fuel in the shipping industry.
The bunkering ship has capacity of 3,500 cubic metres and is owned by a group of Japanese firms, including the shipping companies NYK Line and Kawasaki Kisen Co.
(K-Line), as well as the largest LNG importer, JERA Co. Inc., and Toyota Tsusho Co., the logistics arm of the Toyota trading house.
“As a powerful response to the stricter IMO emission regulations for ships from 2020, the introduction of ships that use LNG as fuel instead of heavy oil is progressing worldwide,” said the companies.
“This ship is Japan’s first LNG bunkering vessel equipped with facilities for supplying fuel to LNG-propelled vessels at sea,” it added.
The event at the Sakaide yard was attended by most of the leading company executives involved in the project, including, Hitoshi Nagasawa, President of NYK Line and Koichi Akin, President of K-Line.
Also in attendance was Nao Nakamura, Managing Executive Officer of JERA and Toshiro Hidaka, CEO of Machinery, Energy and Plants at Toyota Tsusho.
“The vessel will be handed over after undergoing tests using actual LNG,” said a statement.
“The ‘Kaguya’ will be based at the JERA’s Kawagoe power plant and import terminal northwest of Tokyo and will supply LNG fuel to vessels in the Chubu coastal region,” it added.
The leading Japanese LNG bunkering company is currently Mitsui Osk Lines, which has embarked on a global project with Total of France for jointly-owned vessels to be based in key fuel markets in Europe and elsewhere.
The MOL-Total venture already has one ship in operation in north-west Europe and a second will be delivered from China in 2021 and deployed in the Mediterranean.
This bunker vessel is being built by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding in Shanghai, China. It will have capacity of 18,600 cubic metres for a length of about 135 metres and will be fitted with the Mark III membrane containment system provided by French company GTT.
The first Total-MOL LNG bunkering vessel was launched in Shanghai in November 2019 and was delivered to operate from Rotterdam in the Netherlands and other Northern European ports.
It will supply LNG to commercial vessels and the fuel unit of Total will be the provider of the bunkering volumes for the French container line CMA CGM based in Marseilles. This is under a previously signed longterm contract for newbuilds being constructed in China.
August LNG trade continues to improve on Far Eastern demand growth
Following severe weather since late August, US LNG exporters have struggled to maintain output, with shipments from the US Gulf of Mexico (US GoM) dwindling to just eight cargoes in two weeks in late August. Although exports rebounded once the weather improved, indicating terminals keep ready to restart loadings swiftly, continuous week-on-week growth seems threatened again.
LNG supply to the Pacific Basin is set to tighten in September due to maintenance and weather issues. However, we highlight that recent data also suggests this development is only part of a wider market development pushed by apparently weaker Chinese gas demand overall.