Ship-to-Ship bunkering operations expected to start promptly in 2020
Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has released a Feasibility Study Report on the LNG bunkering hub development plan at the Port of Yokohama. In this study, the Steering Committee examines the issues and measures for the development of an LNG bunkering hub using the Port of Yokohama as a model case.
Due to the tightening of international regulations on emissions from shipping, the conversion of ship fuel from heavy oil to LNG with cleaner emissions is expected to proceed and LNG fuelled ships have already launched in a part of North America and Europe where emission control is advanced. Japan has determined that it is vital to participate in this developing market.
Global cooperation is also considered essential if a global network of LNG bunkering bases is to be created and to that end, the Government of Japan signed a memorandum of understanding with other countries on 5th Oct 2016 at the 19th Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition in relation to cooperation on development of LNG as a marine fuel.
Under these circumstances, to build LNG bunkering bases in Japan and enhance the competitiveness of our ports, “The Steering Committee for LNG Bunkering at the Port of Yokohama” was inaugurated in June 2016 and subsequently compiled a development plan to build LNG bunkering hubs in Japan. Participators include the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, MLIT Maritime Bureau and Ports and Harbours Bureau, Japan Coast Guard Headquarters, City of Yokohama, and related private business operators: Tokyo Gas co., Ltd., Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha and Yokohama Kawasaki International Port Co., Ltd.
At the committee’s 5th meeting (Oct 24 2016) it was agreed there was sufficient justification and information to put together a development strategy, published late December, for the development of the Port of Yokohama as an LNG bunkering base.
The committee recognises the demand thus far is small. It argues it is important to increase that demand not just from ocean going vessels, such as those that ply the transpacific routes, but also from coastal LNG fuelled ships, and has confidence in the growth of LNG-fuelled shipping.
The port already has an LNG fuelled tug, the Sakigake, launched mid-2016, which has been used to verify the effectiveness of LNG as a marine fuel.
Seizo Matsura – Director, Port Logistics Strategy Office, Ports and Harbours Bureau, MLIT – explains the development of the plan: “Firstly, we studied the trends surrounding LNG fuelled ships. Next, we confirmed the advantages of the Port of Yokohama as an LNG bunkering hub. In addition, we estimated the demand for LNG fuel in the future, and based on the estimation, we created a roadmap consisting of three phases, and compiled the contents of improvement required for each phase. Finally, we also compiled issues to be addressed to realize the roadmap.”
- PHASE I: Truck to Ship bunkering is currently carried out at Shinko Pier as a temporary arrangement by the Port of Yokohama. The Sakigake bunkers from this facility. This service will be optimised by the City of Yokohama, which is considering permanent supply places and the fixation of some facilities.
- PHASE II calls for the introduction of an LNG bunkering vessel designed for Ship-to-Ship bunkering operations, expected to start promptly in 2020.
- PHASE III is subject to the growth in demand for LNG marine fuel and may include additional ship-to-ship bunkering capacity and/or land-based bunkering from the vicinity of an LNG terminal. The committee argues the economics of upscaling are more than acceptable “if an annual bunkering amount increases to about 300 thousand to 400 thousand tons, even though the delivery cost rises at the timing of an additional investment of a terminal and a bunkering ship”.
The Steering Committee “strongly hopes that the development of LNG Bunkering hubs at ports in Japan, including the Port of Yokohama, will proceed and the competitiveness of our ports will be strengthened with the use of this report as reference”.
The report can be downloaded from the MLIT website: www.mlit.go.jp/common/001157231.pdf