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<<What is necessary to transport natural gas?>>

"This question is very easy. Oversea transportation would require a plane, or...."

The flame Bussan-jin stopped moving on the coastline. From a ship on the coast, a man was waving his hand. "...a ship." Shota muttered, move the cursor and clicked the man. The man grew bigger and saluted Shota.

"This Bussan-jin looks very serious," Shota thought.

"I am the sea Bussan-jin. Let's get what is needed for transportation of natural gas."

After going through large projects such as power plant construction and energy resource development, Shota was a little disappointed by the simple task. Shota said with mean tone in his voice, "We need a ship, right? But ships are slow, and it will take time. In this modern age where speed is required for everything, ships may be out-of-date."

"Oh no. It is a big mistake to think that ships are out-of-date. In Japan, 99% of energy resources is imported from overseas, and nearly 100% (weight ratio) is transported by ships. Ships still play major roles in transporting a massive amount of materials," Bussan-jin emphasized.

"I'm sorry to say this, but we don't need to rely on a sogo-shosha to hire a ship," said Shota. "The cargo is natural gas. The ship cannot be an ordinary ship but needs to be a special one designed to transport natural gas," Bussan-jin replied with an astonished look and then asked Shota with a serious face:

"This is an important point. Natural gas, of course, is gas. It is light but if we try to transport a lot, then the volume becomes enormous. The only way to transport gas on a ship is to load a huge tank on the ship or to transport small tanks many number of times. However, these options are not realistic, are they? Well, what would you do? I'll give you a clue: Water."

"I see," Shota thought and smiled. "You mean, a lot more natural gas can be transported when it is cooled and turned to liquid, right? That's why you used the word 'LNG (Liquid Natural Gas)' when you were talking about Sakhalin II. At what temperature does natural gas turn into liquid?"

Bussan-jin answered with a serious tone. "Under minus 162 degrees centigrade. Do you agree now that a special ship is needed?" Shota said, "That cold? I can't imagine it at all, but a very special ship must be procured." Bussan-jin shook his head slowly and said.

"It's not only about transportation. When the ship arrives at the destination, there must be a facility to turn LNG back to gas. There are many special and technical issues that need to be solved. That's why the general trade company Mitsui & Co. is needed. Mitsui & Co. can support collaboration of companies that have strength in different fields. Please read this report. An actual project will show you how we Bussan-jin are involved in transportation of LNG."

"I suppose that 'special ships' are expensive, aren't they?" Shota asked. Bussan-jin answered without hesitation. "I hear that each ship costs between 20 billion yen and 25 billion yen."

Shota gulped and clicked the button "Bussan-jin's Work: LNG Ship" that started flashing in the corner of the monitor.

*Job titles and organization names as of March 2012

©2011-2012 Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. Nikkei Business Online Special, Translated by Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

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