TOKYO, July 2 (UPI) -- Japanese shipping company NYK announced Wednesday it signed contracts to build the first ever vessel used to fuel ships powered by liquefied natural gas.
NYK signed contracts with Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd. in South Korea to build the world's first so-called bunkering vessel that will be designed to provide LNG to ships fueled by the super-cooled gas.
Bunkering is the ship-to-ship transfer of fuel.
NYK said the LNG fueling vessel will be delivered from its South Korean shipyard to a port in Belgium by 2015. It will be designed specifically to service vessels operating in the North and Baltic Seas.
NYK said the fueling vessel is fit for purpose in a European community working to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The measure is part of a joint initiative between NYK, Mitsubishi Corp. and French energy company GDF Suez.
"GDF Suez regards LNG as the future of bunkering," said Jean-Marie Dauger, the company's vice president in charge of LNG business, said in a statement.
The LNG used for the bunkering vessel will be sourced from the French company's portfolio. GDF Suez is the third-largest LNG supplier in the world.