Whale of a shipment: The hope of the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier

Jul 2023


Scott Gardiner delivers his latest fun fact on hydrogen, for anyone who shares his insatiable interest in this clean fuel of the future. In this post, KWM’s Co-Global Head of Projects Energy and Resources and lawyer Tiffany Kwong look to the seas – can hydrogen crack the long-haul challenge?

Here’s another fun fact on hydrogen, for anyone else with the same insatiable interest in this clean fuel of the future.

In Japanese, Suiso means hydrogen. Guess the name of the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier? Correct! The Suiso Frontier!

The Suiso Frontier left Japan in December 2021 headed for Australia. It returned less than two months later with its load of Latrobe Valley liquified hydrogen.

The Suiso Frontier weighs 8,000 gross tonnes, almost the weight of at least 40 blue whales (blue whales are the heaviest animal, weighing as much as 200 tonnes). Liquefied Hydrogen (LH2) on the Suiso Frontier was kept at -253 degrees Celsius (cryogenic temperature), with a centrepiece LH2 storage tank of 1,250 m3.

The Suiso Frontier’s round trip was part of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Project – the first to make and transport liquefied hydrogen between two countries by sea. The next phase of the world’s first intercontinental liquefied hydrogen supply chain is a data gathering and review process, with the goal of pushing ahead with a commercial phase that would see operations in place in the 2030s (depending on approvals – both regulatory and community).

And before you pull me up – yes, there was an incident mid-journey – you might have seen news of a little fire on board due to a valve failure. But the ship’s builder has fixed it and is powering on with plans.

Larger liquefied hydrogen carriers have since been announced. That includes a collaboration between France’s TotalEnergies and maritime companies on a tonne capacity vessel (substantially bigger storage tank than Suiso Frontier’s). And a similarly sized vessel Kawasaki is developing. The International Energy Agency has a taskforce focused on the storage and conversion of hydrogen, including liquid for transport (‘Task 40’ – not the most creatively named taskforce but we will forgive the IEA, given the importance and urgency of its work).

Let’s look forward to the next frontier (see what I did there?)!

Stay tuned for the next part of this series. Meanwhile, feel free to visit Scott’s LinkedIn page and share your favourite hydrogen fun fact. For more, see his previous posts in the series:

You can also read more insights from our experts worldwide on KWM’s Hydrogen page.


Scott is a projects and project finance specialist with over 25 years’ experience. He built the firm's 'New Energy Future' team, bringing together expertise in climate change, data and energy to explore the myriad of disruptive changes transforming the energy industry.

Most recently, Scott has spent 2 years on secondment to the AIIB, working on energy and infrastructure projects in Cambodia, Indonesia (satellite PPP), Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, the Philippines and India.

Scott has a particular passion for hydrogen - watch this space!

Tiffany Kwong is a registered foreign lawyer (Australia) in our Hong Kong office. She has lived in the United Kingdom and Australia (moved for the sun) and spent almost two years in our Beijing office. She has a broad focus on corporate practice and private equity transactions and has experience in the energy sector.

Tiffany has represented multinational corporations, venture capital firms, unicorns, and start-ups in cross-border deals, corporate governance, FDI and general corporate matters.

Inspired by KWM partner Scott Gardiner, Tiffany is interested in everything ESG.

When she’s not working on complex private equity and financing deals, Tiffany likes to explore new restaurants (there are many in Hong Kong), play basketball (often comes as a surprise because she is not tall) and cello (she is in an orchestra!). You’d also find her rowing a boat (with the KWM dragon boat team) during the weekends.

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