ITOCHU Announces That ITOCHU and SKY Perfect JSAT Won the Minister of the Environment Award at the 6th Space Development and Utilization Awards

February 27, 2024

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter "ITOCHU") announced today that ITOCHU and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Eiichi Yonekura, Representative Director, President & Chief Executive Officer; hereinafter "SKY Perfect JSAT") won the Minister of the Environment Award at the 6th Space Development and Utilization Awards sponsored by the Cabinet Office. The Space Development and Utilization Awards, sponsored by the Cabinet Office, recognizes the great accomplishments of companies and projects that have excelled in the promotion of the development and utilization of space and implemented pioneering approaches.
In recognition of the joint initiative to provide the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) * 1 satellite-based oil spill detection service to the Qatari Ministry of Environment & Climate Change (hereinafter "Qatari MECC"), ITOCHU and SKY Perfect JSAT were honored with the award for their outstanding contribution to protecting the marine environment.

This service is provided in joint partnership with Kongsberg Satellite Services, AS (headquartered in Tromsø, Norway, hereinafter "KSAT"), a leading provider of global ground network and satellite-based earth observation services and uses SAR satellite imagery downlinked to KSAT and its partners' ground stations to detect offshore oil leaks. Following this process, analysis is performed in combination with Automatic Identification System (AIS) information* 2 transmitted from vessels, and the vessel with the oil leak can be identified.

Around the world, about 2,000 oil spill accidents caused by oil tankers have been reported since the 1970s. * 3 Especially along the Persian Gulf coast where many multi-national vessels navigate, including the coast of Qatar, countermeasures for oil leaks have been studied for many years. From the perspective of environmental protection, it is important to detect and deal with the oil leaking from a vessel as quickly as possible before it reaches the shore. It is expected that this service will be useful in protecting the marine environment and preventing oil leaks from damaging important facilities such as desalination facilities and power plants in coastal areas.

ITOCHU and SKY Perfect JSAT participated in the award ceremony held at Nikkei Hall on March 12, 2024, where Kentaro Asahi, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Environment, presented the "Minister of the Environment Award" certificate and trophy.

The key points in receiving this award are as follows. (Excerpt from the selection committee members' critique)
- It is a good example of a service in the Middle East, an important region strategically and politically for Japan. The introduction of this service by the government of Qatar has prompted inquiries from other Persian Gulf countries, and the number of contracts is likely to grow in the future.
- The SAR satellite will be used to identify offshore oil leaks from ships, and has already been provided to Qatari MECC. The widespread use of this service is expected to lead to an early response to marine pollution caused by oil spills, and should have the effect of preserving the marine environment and effectively utilizing resources.

Commendation Ceremony

ITOCHU and SKY Perfect JSAT will continue aiming for sustainable growth by contributing to the sustainability of society and the environment through the utilization of observation data from space, an area where significant market growth is expected, and by solving social issues through sound business activities.

  • *1SAR: Synthetic Aperture Radar. A radar that obtains an image of the earth surface by irradiating the ground surface with microwaves and analyzing the signals that are reflected back. It is characterized by its ability to penetrate clouds and volcanic smoke, and to observe the situation of the ground surface regardless of it being day or night or the weather.
  • *2AIS information: Information such as the vessel’s identification code, name, location, speed, course, destination, etc., transmitted by its Automatic Identification System. From the perspective of maritime safety, including aspects such as collision prevention, vessels navigating the sea exchange voyage related information such as this with each other, and certain vessels are required to have AIS devices installed onboard by the SOLAS Convention (Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea). The AIS device must always be turned on, even when the vessel is anchored, and must continuously transmit information about the vessel so its location can be determined at all times.
  • *3Quoted from International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation.

■ The 6th Space Development and Utilization Awards  (Japanese)

■ ITOCHU and SKY Perfect JSAT Announced Commencement of SAR Satellite-Based Oil Spill Monitoring Service to Qatar (June 19, 2023)