Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has ordered four more LNG-fuelled car carriers at two domestic shipyards.

The additional 7,000-ceu ships doubles the number contracted last summer at Shin Kurushima Dockyard and Shin Kurushima Dockyard and Nihon Shipyard, a joint venture between Imabari Shipbuilding and Japan Marine United (JMU).

The first four vessels are due in 2024, with the latest quartet coming in 2024 and 2025.

No price has been revealed for either set of car carriers.

LNG will be the main fuel. MOL says CO2 emissions are expected to be cut by between 25% and 30%, while SOx will be eliminated entirely. NOx output will fall by 85%.

The huge shipowner is aiming to reach zero emissions by 2050 and plans to launch about 90 LNG-fuelled vessels of different types by 2030.

Japan’s big three shipping companies are increasingly shifting over to LNG as a fuel. NYK Line has announced plans to build 12 LNG-fuelled car carriers.

MOL, NYK Line and K Line have also ordered one LNG-fuelled 210,000-dwt newcastlemax bulk carrier each at Nihon Shipyard under a long-term charter contract with JFE Steel.

MOL is in a strong position to invest in new tonnage as container ship earnings continue to roll in from its joint venture Ocean Network Express (ONE), owned with NYK and K Line.

The owner now has 43 new ships on order at yards in Japan, China and South Korea.

These include LNG carriers, an FSRU, bulkers and general cargo ships.

MOL has a fleet of 53 car carriers already operational.