Mitsubishi: new order for U.S. shale LNG carriers

Sayaringo STaGE a next-generation LNG carrier
Source: press release

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) announced yesterday that it has received an order for two “Sayaringo STaGE,” a next-generation LNG (liquefied natural gas) carriers, for delivery to Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line).

The carriers on order feature a new design that achieves significant improvements in both LNG carrying capacity and fuel efficiency through the adoption of a more efficient hull structure and an innovative hybrid propulsion system. The vessels are scheduled for completion and delivery in 2018. They will be put into service for transporting shale gas produced in North America, carrying the gas from Cameron LNG Project (Note 1), an initiative in which Mitsubishi Corporation is participating.

The order for two Sayaringo STaGE LNG carriers was received through MI LNG Company, Limited, a joint venture between MHI and Imabari Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. The vessels will be constructed at MHI’s Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works.

Specifications will be LOA (length overall) of 293.5m, width of 48.94m, depth of 27.0m and draft of 11.05m. The carriers will respectively have four apple-shaped tanks, an improved version of Moss-type (Note 2) tanks designed with a bulging upper half. Total holding capacity of the tanks will be 165,000 cubic meters (m3). The adoption of a tank cover integrated with the hull structure, developed by MHI with the support of Aker Arctic Technology Inc., enables a lighter vessel while fully retaining overall structural strength.

The new design also reduces wind resistance during navigation. The Sayaringo STaGE has a width capable for passing through the newly expanding Panama Canal that is expected to go into service early in 2016, enabling efficient increase in LNG transporting capacity.

The LNG carriers on order feature a hybrid propulsion system dubbed “STaGE” (Steam Turbine and Gas Engines), which as its name implies combines a steam turbine and engines that can be fired by gas. STaGE’s components consist of the “Ultra Steam Turbine” (UST) plant, a highly efficient reheating steam type marine turbine developed independently by MHI, a dual-fuel diesel engine capable of operating on both gas and oil, and an electric propulsion motor. Plant efficiency has been substantially improved through the UST’s effective use of the engine’s waste heat, resulting in a propulsion system enabling high-efficiency navigation throughout a full range of speeds.

In recent years demand for LNG as a fuel for generating power has been increasing worldwide, Japan included. Meanwhile, LNG produced in North America in tandem with America’s “shale gas revolution” is projected to grab an expanding share of the global market going forward, a trend that is resulting in longer LNG transport distances. The latest order from NYK Line comes on the heels of the order for two next-generation LNG carriers, which MHI received in January this year to transport shale gas produced in North America.

Against this backdrop, MHI looks to attract expanding demand for its next-generation LNG carriers offering superlative transport capacity, fuel efficiency and environmental performance. By expanding its customer base, the company aims to contribute to both the domestic and global LNG transport industries.

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