The ministry said it will join forces with local shipyards, builders and state institutes to develop a class of 180,000-ton LNG-propelled vessels.
The government launched a task force in January made up of local companies to develop the emerging marine transport sector to comply with the International Maritime Organization's sulfur cap on bunkers, set to be enforced in 2020.
"This pilot program is aimed at building the world's largest LNG-propelled ship, which is expected to pave the way for related industries to take root in the nation," Kang Joon-suk, the vice marine minister, said in a release.
"We will expand support for LNG-powered vessels to help benefit the nation's overall marine industry."
LNG-powered ships are considered an eco-friendly option to meet strengthened international regulations, but high costs have posed challenges to private shippers.
South Korean shipyards have outstanding expertise in building LNG carriers, LNG-fueled ships and bunkering shuttles but are still in the early stages when it comes to LNG-powered ships and bunkering infrastructure. Only one LNG-propelled vessel is operated in the country.
On Tuesday, POSCO, South Korea's No. 1 steelmaker, as well as the state-run Korea Gas Corporation, the Korea Development Bank and marine research institutes, will sign an agreement with the oceans and commerce ministry to launch the pilot program. (Yonhap)