LNG – the tune of the future
Ever more stringent fuel regulations are encouraging the use of LNG in the Japanese shipping industry. The country’s three major carriers are at the forefront of these developments, also in the Russian Far East.
Numerous projects in the LNG field show the extent to which liquefied natural gas is considered a fuel of the future in Japan. Earlier this summer the shipping lines K Line and NYK teamed up with Chubu Electric Power and the Toyota Tsusho Corporation. The objective? No less than a new basis for the LNG bunkering industry in Japan. The four partners, whose talks started in January this year, have now established two joint ventures for LNG bunkering, which will promote ship-to-ship bunkering.
Banking on LNG in the Russian Far East
Market observers generally expect LNG to become an important alternative to ship fuel, on account of its low quantities of air pollutants and greenhouse gases it emits when it is burnt. Thus MOL, the country’s third major shipping line, is now also set to enter this international field. At the beginning of September the line and the Tokyo-based Marubeni Corporation signed a cooperation agreement with the Vladivostok-based company Japanese Project Promotion Vehicle in the Far East LLC (JPPV). JPPV was jointly established by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the Far East Investment and Export Agency and the Far East and Baikal Region Development Fund. Its objective is to encourage Japanese companies to launch business in Russia, and to promote Japanese investment in Russia and the Far East. This new agreement, in turn, aims to establish LNG transhipment terminals in the Far East.
MOL and Marubeni have also signed a memorandum of understanding with Pao Novatek, an independent Russian gas production and sales company. Together they will initially conduct a feasibility study to see whether it is a good idea to establish an LNG transhipment and marketing complex off the Kamchatka Peninsula.
LNG trio soon to be complete
Advances are also being made at other levels. At the beginning of September the naming ceremony was held for an icebreaker and LNG carrier jointly ordered by MOL and China Cosco Shipping. The newbuilding was constructed by the South Korea corporation Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, and has a loading capacity of 172,000 cbm. The Vladimir Vize is named in honour of the Russian oceanographer and expert on the Arctic ice pack (1886–1954). It was named by Irina Ershova, of Pao Novatek, which is also the majority stakeholder in the Yamal Peninsula LNG project.
The Vladimir Vize is a sistership of the Vladimir Rusanov, which was commissioned in March and is named after the Russian Arctic geologist (1875–1913). The third vessel in the series is currently under construction. The ships will be deployed to transport LNG for the Yamal Peninsula project under a long-term charter contract.
Over and above this another four conventional LNG carriers, which will also be used in the Yamal Peninsula LNG project, are set to be completed for MOL between 2019 and 2020. It is obvious that MOL is mightily interested in the power of LNG.