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ITF report assesses Japan as potential LNG bunkering hub

Study examines the key steps that would need to be taken for Japan to become a key location for LNG bunkering.



Image credit: Pixabay CC0


Updated on 30 Apr 2018 16:23 GMT

The International Transport Forum (ITF) - an OECD-linked intergovernmental organisation that acts as a think tank for global transport policy - has published a new report that assesses the steps that would need to be taken in order for Japan to become a key hub in Asia for LNG bunkering.

The study, which focuses specifically on the Tokyo Bay area - notably the port of Yokohama, notes that Japan is the world's largest importer of LNG and has been involved in the development of LNG bunkering facilities for ships.

As a major trading nation, the report posits that the volume of Japan's maritime trade provides the basis for an LNG bunkering hub strategy, but that its success would depend on four key conditions: the uptake of LNG as a marine fuel; the availability of LNG bunkering facilities worldwide; emission regulations; and the strategic location of Japanese ports close to trade routes.

The study stresses that LNG bunkering stakeholders - including LNG importers, shippers and firms with expertise in the storage and handling of LNG - will need to be involved in the development of policies governing bunkering.

Also, to avoid over-investment, ITF suggests the plan to develop LNG infrastructure should be flexible in order to be able to scale up as demand increases. Hence, storage facilities and gas infrastructure should be able to accommodate a range of gases, such as bio-methane, the study says.

ITF also recommends that Japan continues with its efforts to stimulate international cooperation in LNG bunkering via meetings and joint projects, which could help facilitate the harmonisation of technical standards for LNG bunkering and promote transparent global LNG markets.

The report concludes: "This analysis confirms the strategic importance for Japan of investing in LNG bunkering facilities in anticipation of the 0.5% global sulphur cap in 2020. The sulphur regulations in the emission control areas in Northern Europe have generated orders and deliveries for LNG[-]fuelled ships operating in coastal trades. This might also happen in Japan in anticipation or following the 2020 sulphur cap.

"Given its current level of infrastructure, experience and geographical position, Japan will most likely be able to secure a competitive advantage vis-a-vis other Asian ports that are developing similar LNG bunkering facilities. With LNG bunkering facilities in place, particularly the ports in the Tokyo Bay area will strengthen their current position as key regional and international ports and enable the emerging East-West LNG[-]fuelled ship traffic to trade in Japan."






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