Tokyo, March 14 (Jiji Press) — Japanese resources developer Inpex Corp. <1605> is considering launching operations in 2020 to supply liquefied natural gas fuel to ships, Jiji Press learned Thursday.
Inpex aims to introduce a ship for LNG fuel supply to client vessels at an early date, informed sources said, adding that the fuel ship will be based in the Middle East.
The use of large ships powered by LNG is expected to increase amid the tightening of international environmental regulations on shipping fuel.
Inpex plans to establish a new company shortly with Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. of the United Arab Emirates and accelerate preparations for the LNG fuel supply business.
The envisaged ship is expected to have a capacity of supplying 7,500 cubic meters of LNG, enough to fill up a large oil tanker.
Inpex will start with one ship, planning to supply LNG fuel from 2020 to tankers and cruise ships that stop at the UAE, the sources said.
International regulations against the emissions of sulfur oxide, a major air pollutant, from ships will be tightened in January 2020.
Inpex forecasts that LNG-powered ships will account for around 10 pct of the total shipping vessels used around the world in 2025, up from the recent share of less than one pct.
LNG business has a “good chance of success,” Inpex Managing Executive Officer Shigeharu Yajima said, sounding eager to procure additional LNG fuel supply ships after the first one.
Among other Japanese companies, trading house Sumitomo Corp. <8053> leads a project that is slated to supply LNG fuel to ships in Tokyo Bay from fiscal 2020.
A consortium including shipping firm Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. and Chubu Electric Power Co. is expected to begin similar business in the Chubu central Japan region in 2020.