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LNG to fuel competition between Chinese, Japanese and Korean shipbuilders

LNG to fuel With demand for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) expected to rise exponentially for the next 30 years, shipbuilders are scrambling to obtain a larger piece of the pie, with shipbuilders from Korea, China and Japan all facing fierce competition. As a result of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) shift to cleaner fuels, demand for more environmentally friendly fuels is expected to increase, and LNGs are no exception. Therefore, demand for LNG-fuelled vessels is also expected to increase. Currently, only 8 shipbuilders have received orders for LNG-fuelled vessels: 4 from Japan, 3 from Korea and 1 from China. Korean shipbuilders have built the majority of LNG-fuelled vessels for the past 2 years (66 out of 72 in 2018 and 48 out of 60 in 2019). Korean shipbuilders have received a higher number of orders as a result of their fuel tanks and fuel supply systems, produced from their use of cutting-edge technology. The new design favoured by Korean shipbuilders, the ‘Membrane’ type, results in a 40% increase in load capacity over its predecessor, and has become the favoured fuel tank in the industry. The old design, the ‘MOSS’ type, was still used by Japanese shipbuilders, thus causing orders for LNG-fuelled vessels from Japanese shipbuilders to drop. In an attempt to bounce back from their slump, Japanese shipmakers have been collaborating with Chinese shipbuilders by merging advanced Japanese technology with the low cost of Chinese labour. As a result of this collaboration, Japan’s Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding and China’s Yangzijiang Shipbuilding launched a shipyard in China together and plan to invest US$300 million on a medium-sized LNG carrier to transport LNG from Southeast Asia to China in 2023, as well as a 180,000 m3 LNG carrier by 2026. There are further plans to work together, with Kawasaki Heavy Industries from Japan also working with China Cosco Shipping Group to open a joint shipyard.   Source: Hellenic Shipping News

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