Japan Launches Effort to Build Ammonia Marine Infrastructure and Ships

ammonia infrastructure in Japan
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Published Mar 12, 2021 6:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

A consortium of Japanese companies announced plans to begin to develop the infrastructure to supply ammonia as a marine fuel by developing supply sites in Japan. They will also work together toward the construction and operation of ammonia-fueled ships.

The initiative is being led by the Japanese trading company ITOCHU Corporation and its fuel trading operation ITOCHU ENEX Co. They will be working in collaboration with Ube Industries, which is one of the largest producers of ammonia in Japan, and Uyeno Transtech, one of the largest owners and operators of vessels domestically in Japan.

Citing the IMO and global targets to limit GHG emissions, the companies believe to meet these goals, the early development of ships designed to be zero-emission vessels is expected. Ammonia in particular they note has attracted attention in several fields as a candidate alternative fuel. To achieve the development of ships that use ammonia as their main fuel, they note that a stable supply of marine ammonia fuel and the development of supply sites are essential elements.

This latest joint development effort is not only focused on developing supply sites for marine ammonia fuel inside Japan but is also positioned as part of an integrated project that includes the joint development of ammonia fuel ships, with the ownership and operation of these ships. They will start with the introduction of marine ammonia fuel and facilities for the supply of that fuel, efforts which ITOCHU and ITOCHU ENEX has been pursuing in parallel. Working in cooperation with companies in Japan and overseas, as well as related government agencies, the partners will pursue initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.

Using its insight as one of the largest producers of ammonia in Japan, Ube Industries will undertake research and development on the supply of marine ammonia fuel itself and the development of the onshore facilities required for its supply. At the same time, Uyeno Transtech, as the largest owner and operator of domestic vessels in Japan, will conduct research and development into marine ammonia fuel supply vessels and the formulation of safety standards for refueling. ITOCHU ENEX plans to leverage its experience in supplying marine fuel and the operation of refueling vessels to conduct research and development into ammonia fuel supply sites in Japan. 

ITOCHU will also seek to form partnerships with domestic and overseas companies including shippers, shipping companies, and ammonia-related businesses while driving the joint development of ammonia-fueled vessels. It will also be responsible for conducting and coordinating the joint research to realize an integrated project that includes the ownership and operation of ammonia-fueled vessels.