First Ship-to-Ship LNG Fueling in Japan as Bunkering Industry Grows

Japan's first ship-to-ship LNG fueling
Kaguya supplying LNG fuel to Sakura Leader - courtesy of Central LNG Marine Fuel Japan

Published Oct 21, 2020 12:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

Japan took a step forward in the development of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel business completing its first ship-to-ship LNG fueling. According to Central LNG, a company established in a partnership between JERA, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), the fueling also marks the official start of the LNG bunkering business in the Chubu region of Japan.

The newly commissioned bunkering vessel Kaguya on October 20 fueled the Sakura Leader, an LNG-fueled PCTC (pure car and truck carrier) that is under construction at Shin Kurushima Toyohashi Shipbuilding Co. and will be operated by NYK. The Kaguya is a 268-foot long bunkering vessel with an LNG cargo capacity of 3,500 m3. Construction of the Kaguya, which is a 4,000 gross ton vessel, began at Sakaide Works (Kawasaki Heavy Industries) in July 2018 and she was delivered to Central LNG in September.

Central LNG was formed in May 2018 in preparation for the launch of its LNG bunkering business and to prepare for the bunkering operation facilities at the Kawagoe Thermal Power Station were modified beginning in July 2018 to develop the capabilities to fuel the bunkering vessel. The LNG fuel was loaded aboard the Kaguya on October 16 and 17 at JERA’s Kawagoe Thermal Power Station. The Kaguya will be based at the Kawagoe Thermal Power Station.

The introduction of this service marks another step in the growing global LNG bunkering business. According to the industry trade group SEA-LNG, there are currently 169 LNG-powered vessels in operation worldwide with a further 221 on order. As a result, the LNG bunkering industry is rapidly developing. SEA-LNG reported at the beginning of 2019 there were just six LNG bunkering vessels in operation around the world. The number doubled to a dozen by the beginning of 2020 and currently is approaching 20 operational bunker vessels. A further 25 LNG bunker vessels are either on order or under construction due to enter service by the end of 2021. 

Among the other LNG bunkering vessels that have been recently introduced was Southeast Asia’s first vessel, which will be based in Singapore, and a second bunkering vessel was recently completed and delivered to its operators to begin operations in Malaysia. The world’s largest LNG bunkering vessel was dedicated just a month ago in Rotterdam stationed in the port to fuel CMA CGM’s new generation of LNG-powered VLCC container ships.