Six companies have established a strategic partnership to develop a methanol-fuelled domestic tanker, in a bid to minimise carbon emissions into the environment.

Mitsui OSK Lines, MOL Coastal Shipping, Tabuchi Kai, Niihama Kaiu, Murakami Hide Shipbuilding, and The Hanshin Diesel Work collaborate to build the new tanker, which is claimed to be the first of its kind in Japan.

With ship delivery expected in 2024, the vessel development project will secure public funding via the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT).

Compared to vessels using conventional fuel, methanol will be able to cut down emissions of sulphur oxide (SO₂) by approximately 99%, particulate matter (PM) by up to 95%, and carbon dioxide (CO₂) by up to 15%.

Ocean-going vessels, including four MOL Group-run ships, are widely using methanol while the new vessel will be the first domestic ship to be powered by methanol.

Mitsui is the owner of a methanol-dual fuelled methanol carrier, and will share operational expertise for the project.

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Manning and ship management services for the vessel will be provided by Tabuchi Kai.

Murakami Hide, which has expertise in the construction of chemical tankers, will deliver services, as per the specifications of the ship.

Hanshin is said to be the world’s first firm to develop a methanol-driven, low-speed, four-stroke diesel engine for marine applications.

In January 2021, Mitsui OSK entered into a time charter agreement with Mitsui & Co for a 174,000m³ vessel.