Dec. 27 (UPI) -- A Japanese energy company said Wednesday it was studying the possibility of working with a partner in Thailand on a plan for a port for LNG refueling.
Marubeni Corp. said it started a feasibility study with Thailand's state-run petroleum and petrochemical company, PTT Public Co. Ltd., for liquefied natural gas bunkering infrastructure at the Thai port of Laem Chabang, the country's largest industrial port.
Bunkering is the ship-to-ship transfer of fuel. Marubeni said the joint study with PTT will examine the potential for a bunkering project that's compatible with the Thai company's LNG receiving terminal about 125 miles southeast of Bangkok.
"The Japanese government is expressing its support and contributing to infrastructure developing in the area to help bolster Thailand's industrial development," the Japanese company said in a statement.
Marubeni said new regulations on emissions for the maritime industry mean demand for cleaner-burning LNG is expected to increase. More than 8,000 vessels arrive and leave each year from Laem Chabang.
The ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations combine for $2.8 trillion in gross domestic product, which if united would make it the sixth largest economy in the world. A September study from consultant Wood Mackenzie said it would be LNG that could facilitate the type of cooperation needed to keep the ASEAN relative after 50 years.
Regional demand for LNG could triple within the next 10 years.
European companies are already examining bunkering options. In December, French container shipping company CMA CGM reached a supply agreement with French supermajor Total on LNG. An "unprecedented" volume of 300,000 tons of LNG will fuel nine of CMA's vessels from 2020 onward and the company's chairman and CEO, Rodolphe Saadé, said super-cooled gas is "the fuel of the future for shipping."