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Mitsui plans bigger, greener coal carrier to meet regulations

Japanese shipper's new vessel to carry 90,000 tons of coal

Bulk carriers and other vessels face increasingly tougher environmental regulations. (Photo courtesy of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines)

TOKYO -- Mitsui O.S.K. Lines will introduce a new coal carrier with expanded capacity as early as 2021, tapping demand for more efficient vessels with environmental regulations set to tighten next year.

The EeneX, developed with Japanese shipyards, can carry 90,000 tons of coal -- up to 10% more than ships of similar size. The 235-meter vessel also features a double-hull cargo hold design for greater durability, and larger open spaces for easy loading and unloading.

The Tokyo-based shipping company operated 47 coal carriers as of the end of March. It will consider the EeneX as a replacement, particularly for transporting Australian and Brazilian coal to Japan for power plants.

Even as coal faces growing pushback over its environmental impact, the International Energy Agency forecasts global demand to hold steady through 2023. So Mitsui O.S.K. will develop a more efficient carrier, given the continued demand and new sulfur regulations taking effect in 2020.

The United Nations' International Maritime Organization will lower the cap on sulfur content in shipping fuel to 0.5% from 3.5% this coming January. The IMO also aims to halve greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by 2050, pressuring companies in the sector to shrink their carbon footprints.

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