Japan Seeks Share of LNG Carrier Shipbuilding Market
Japanese market players ramp up their design efforts for fuel-efficient engines to challenge Korean yards as demand for super-cooled fuel is set to soar, says a report in South China Morning Post.
A total of 50 to 60 LNG ships annually are forecast to be delivered globally in 2017 and 2018, aided by US shale export projects, according to an estimate by analyst Masanori Wakae at Mizuho Securities.
Of the total, 12 to 15 ships may be delivered by Japanese suppliers, with the remainder likely to be supplied by the Koreans. Japanese yards delivered seven vessels in 2008 and just two ships in 2013, according to Wakae.
Japanese shipbuilders Mitsubishi Heavy Industries engineers envision the newest fuel-efficient engines for liquefied natural gas carriers while others design tanks with greater capacity. Years after South Korean rivals became the world’s largest shipbuilders, the Japanese stand at the cusp of clawing back some of the industry they once dominated. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Imabari Shipbuilding Co. are also working together in a partnership with the capacity to build eight LNG carriers a year.
Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. is extending an existing relationship with China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co. (COSCO) into cooperation on LNG carriers.
Japan’s domestic shipping customers Nippon Yusen KK and Mitsui OSK are the world’s largest operators of LNG carriers. The country’s top three shippers will likely together spend more than one trillion yen (HK$64.1 billion) by 2020 to expand their LNG fleet to at least 281.
Of 134 LNG tankers built since 2009, 100 were made by South Korean companies, 20 by Chinese companies and 13 by Japanese yards, according to shipping-data provider IHS Maritime.