Phoenix Tankers, a subsidiary of Japan-based transport company Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), has signed a contract with Namura Shipbuilding to build two very large gas carriers (VLGCs).

These vessels will be used to carry liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and ammonia. The deal also includes an options contract for the second ship.

In a technical collaboration with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, Namura Shipbuilding will develop the two ships at its Imari Shipyard in Saga Prefecture, Japan.

The ships will have the capacity to operate on LPG fuel and are expected to be delivered in succession after 2023.

According to MOL, the use of LPG can minimise carbon emissions by around 20% and reduce dependence on sulfur oxide (SOx), particulate matter and other such gases by around 90% compared with fuel oil.

The environmentally friendly newbuilds will feature fuel efficiency in line with the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) Phase III, which will be applicable for VLGCs contracted after next year.

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New ships built under EEDI Phase III will have to theoretically attain a reduction of 30% in carbon emissions from the EEDI baseline in their design stage.

In a statement, MOL said: “The newly ordered vessels are also designed to transport ammonia and are presently the world’s largest-scale ammonia carriers.

“The vessels will [also] be built with an eye toward conversion to ammonia [fuel] in the future because LPG and ammonia fuels have similar characteristics.”

The company is working towards addressing environmental issues in accordance with the MOL Group’s Environmental Vision 2.1, which the company published in June.

The MOL Group aims to achieve sustainable net-zero GHG emissions and support a low-carbon society.

Earlier this week, MOL concluded an agreement with Shin Kurushima Dockyard and Nihon Shipyard to build four LNG-fuelled car carriers.

The 7,000-unit capacity vessels are expected to be delivered in a series starting in 2024.