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NYK and MOL Launch Biofuel Programs 

Japanese shipping companies expand biodiesel supply
Biofuel was tested on MOL's Niseko Galaxy as they seekto build a global bunker supply (MOL Chemical Tankers)

Published Apr 19, 2022 5:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two of Japan’s leading shipping companies announced moves to expand the use of biofuels in their operations. Both NYK and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines are continuing testing efforts as they seek to use alternative fuels to meet near-term environmental targets.  Numerous shipping companies have reported individual tests of biofuels with positive results mostly using supplies from Rotterdam and Singapore. The Japanese companies are looking to expand the availability of biofuels.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines through its wholly-owned company MOL Chemical Tankers is launching a study on the full-scale supply of biodiesel fuel with leading commodities trader Trafigura and its fuel supply company TFG Marine. The companies are studying the supply and infrastructure for biodiesel with the aim of establishing a global supply of biodiesel fuel for MOL’s chemical tanker fleet. The company reports that it currently operates 78 deep-sea chemical tankers as well as an additional six short sea tankers.

As a part of the joint study, TFG Marine recently supplied biodiesel for a sea trial using the MOL-operated chemical tanker Niseko Galaxy. About 200 metric tonnes of biodiesel were bunkered in the Port of Rotterdam in early March, with the vessel sailing to the U.S. Gulf Coast during the sea trials. 

The goal is to develop a global supply of biodiesel fuel. They expect to achieve a 25 to 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions on a mix of 30 percent biodiesel and 70 percent conventional heavy fuel oil.

TFG, which was formed in 2019 as a joint venture between Frontline, Golden Ocean Group, and Trafigura Group, has been working to rapidly build its bunkering operations. In 2021, the company participated in another trial of biodiesel work with a d’Amico Group LR1 product tanker. TFG has been seeking to expand its biodiesel bunkering as part of its efforts to contribute to the decarbonization of the maritime sector. 

Separately, Japan’s NYK Group and its affiliate Sanyo Kaiji Kabushiki Kaisha started a three-month test navigation using biodiesel supplied by Toyotsu Energy Corporation in tugboats operated by Sanyo Kaiji. The biofuel will be supplied via ship-to-ship using a bunkering ship to supply fuel to the tug, the first time for this to be done in Japan. 

The first trial of the bunkering took place today April 19 at the Port of Nagoya in Japan. The biofuel supplied to Sanyo Kaiji's tugboat was partly derived from waste cooking oil collected from companies in Japan. NYK reports that three test trials are planned to take place by July. This biofuel supply and test navigation are being carried out with the support of the Nagoya Port Authority, taking place at the port which handles the largest volume of goods in Japan.

Like TFG, Toyotsu has been conducting tests as it looks to expand the biofuel market. They performed the first trial of biofuel operation by a marine bunker barge in Singapore in April 2021. The Group also performed a biofuel operation trial for an oceangoing vessel of NYK Line in June 2021. The goal of the latest trial in Japan is to verify the effectiveness of using biofuel derived from waste cooking oil for coastal trading vessels.