K Line, Chubu Electric Power, Toyota Tsusho Corp and NYK Line have established two LNG bunkering joint ventures to create the infrastructure needed for fuelling gas-powered vessels in the Chubu area, a central region which straddles Japan’s main island of Honshu.
Central LNG Marine Fuel Corp will be responsible for co-ordinating the LNG bunkering business while Central LNG Shipping Japan Corp will own the LNG bunkering vessel that will enable ship-to-ship (STS) transfers of fuel to take place.
Chubu Electric’s LNG activities are centred principally in the Ise Bay region on the southern coast near Nagoya where it operates three LNG receiving terminals – Kawagoe, Yokkaichi and Chita. The utility company’s fourth LNG import terminal is at Joetsu on Chubu’s northern coast.
Chubu Electric is also part of Jera, an alliance with Tokyo Electric Power which co-ordinates the energy supply chain activities of the two companies. Among Jera’s responsibilities is the purchase of approximately 40 mta of LNG.
The K Line/Chubu Electric/Toyota Tsusho/NYK Line initiative is the latest development in Japan’s growing commitment to the LNG bunkering concept. In 2016 the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism became part of an LNG bunkering focus group that now consists of 11 ports and maritime administrations across Asia, Europe, and North America.
In January this year Mitsui OSK Lines ordered an LNG-powered tug at the Kanagawa Dockyard. On delivery, scheduled for April 2019, the vessel will join the fleet of Nihon TugBoat for operation in Osaka Bay.
Japan already has one LNG-fuelled tug in operation, the NYK-owned Sakigake which is active in the port of Yokohama. This relatively small vessel is fuelled by LNG road tankers.
More recently, in March 2018, Uyeno Transtech, Sumitomo Corp and Yokohama-Kawasaki International Port Corp (YKIP) signed a memorandum of understanding under which the parties will investigate the options for carrying out STS LNG bunkering in Tokyo Bay.
YKIP, the port operating company for Keihin Port, manages and operates the large container terminals in the Yokohama and Kawasaki port zones. In July 2017 it joined SEA\LNG, the multi-sector industry coalition aiming to accelerate the widespread adoption of LNG as marine fuel worldwide.
In April 2018 the International Transport Forum at the OECD released a report which assesses Japan’s ambition to become an international LNG bunkering hub. The strategic location of Keihin Port at one end of the North Pacific trade routes is deemed to be an important advantage.