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Tokyo Gas begins construction of second Hitachi LNG tank

Tue 17 Apr 2018 by Mike Corkhill

Tokyo Gas begins construction of second Hitachi LNG tank
The Hitachi terminal of Tokyo Gas has now been in operation for three years

Tokyo Gas has commenced construction of the second 230,000 m3 storage tank of the full containment type at its Hitachi terminal in Ibaraki prefecture, 130 km northeast of Tokyo. The new unit, which will be completed in late 2020, will double the LNG-handling capacity of the terminal to 6.4 mta.

The second storage tank will help Tokyo Gas meet the growing demand for gas in the Kanto region north of Tokyo. A key customer of the increased flow of LNG will be Kobe Steel which will utilise gas from Hitachi to fuel a new gas-fired power plant to be built adjacent to its Moka steelworks. 

Kobe Steel will sell to Tokyo Gas electricity from the new Moka facility, Japan’s first thermal power plant to be situated inland. Tokyo Gas has been seeking to complement its gas business by building a presence in the electricity sector following the introduction of measures to liberalise the country’s power generation sector in 2016.  

Hitachi is the fourth in the network of LNG receiving terminals operated by Tokyo Gas. The other three – Sodegaura, Negishi and Ohgishima – are situated in the Tokyo Bay area and all four facilities are linked via pipeline. 

Hitachi commenced commercial operations in March 2016, handling 0.7 mta during its first year. In addition to the initial 230,000 m3 LNG tank, the terminal also boasts a 50,000 m3 LPG tank, a jetty able to handle conventional-size and small-scale LNG carriers and a six-bay road tanker loading station.

Tokyo Gas utilises the LPG to blend with LNG to achieve a product, when regasified, with a calorific value appropriate to the needs of the customer. LPG is also employed as a refrigerant in the terminal’s operational cycle, to reduce the generation of boil-off gas in the LNG tank. 

When it was commissioned, the Hitachi tank was the world’s largest aboveground LNG tank. In addition to the inner tank of 9% nickel steel, an insulation layer and an outer tank, the Hitachi LNG storage unit is protected by a prestressed concrete external barrier wall.

The terminal’s current LNG-handling capacity of 3.2 mta was planned as 2.2 mta for regasification on site and 1 mta for send out as LNG in coastal tankers and cryogenic road tankers.

An important customer of the road tanker deliveries is Hitachi Ltd’s power station in the city. The LNG is trucked to a Tokyo LNG satellite station where it is stored in a small 2,400 m3 tank before being regasified and piped to Hitachi’s adjacent plant. 

Tokyo Gas also began using its new 80 km east-west Ibaraki-Toshigi trunk line when the first Hitachi tank was commissioned in 2016. The new link boosted the utility’s high-pressure pipeline network to 950 km, mainly around the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Tokyo Gas has also embarked on a new pipeline project in tandem with the construction of the second Hitachi LNG tank, and similar completion dates are planned. The 87 km Ibaraki Main Gas Pipeline will connect the Hitachi terminal with Kamisu city and link with the existing Chiba-Kashima line to complete the Kanto region loop surrounding the Tokyo metropolitan area.

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