Japanese ministry approves LNG-fueled bulker development plan

Adam Foster
Adam Foster

02 April 2018


An R&D plan jointly presented by NYK and Oshima Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. was approved by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) in its effort to support the introduction of cutting-edge vessels. The selected plan concerns R&D to fuel a post-panamax bulk carrier with liquefied natural gas (LNG). MLIT’s approval is expected to accelerate the practical application of the plan. The approval program, which was introduced last October, aims to improve the productivity of Japan’s maritime industry and bolster its global competitiveness by approving plans for R&D, manufacturing, the introduction of vessels using IoT for further safety and efficiency, and the use of eco-friendly fuel for propulsion. According to the joint plan, NYK and Oshima Shipbuilding will have the next four years to do the research and development of the LNG-fueled vessel. The plan outline says that R&D on LNG-fueled vessel (post-panamax bulk carrier) to greatly reduce environmental burdens and minimize the loss of cargo space by optimizing LNG fuel tank and accommodation arrangements. It also highlights the optimization of outfitting and piping to reduce construction time by 20 percent for LNG-fueled ships, which currently require more time for construction than other. The purpose of the plan is stated as to achieve a 30 percent reduction of Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for bulk carriers constructed after January 1, 2025. Recent, newly designed vessels have reduced EEDI by 20 to 30 percent, but in some conditions, it is difficult for post-panamax carriers to achieve greater reductions. By using environment-friendly LNG fuel that emits less CO2 than that emitted by C heavy oil, reductions can be attained before regulations commence. To date, the NYK Group has promoted the practical use of LNG as an environment-friendly fuel by constructing and operating the world’s first LNG-fueled car carrier and the world’s first purpose-built LNG bunkering vessel, as well as developing an LNG-fuel sales business. Based on its accumulated expertise, the NYK Group will work with its partners to contribute to the use of LNG in the maritime industry for a sustainable society. Post-panamax is a ship that is larger than the maximum vessel size (i.e., Panamax) capable of passing through the Panama Canal prior to its expansion in 2016. Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) is an indicator for assessment of CO2 emissions per primary unit (ton-mile) based on specifications at the vessel design/construction stage. Calculation of EEDI is mandatory for newly manufactured vessels, and a certificate indicating the EEDI specific to each vessel is issued.