Methanol: a key green shipping solution that will help us future-proof seaborne trade
August 2021

The shipping community has recognised that there is a requirement to alter our energy sources and move to cleaner fuels. The ramping up of environmental regulation and initiatives from key industry bodies is a clear indicator that the speed we must manage our energy transition leaves us no time to wait and see what others do. 

COP26 is just around the corner, at the end of October. For the first time, the shipping industry will be included in global climate discussions. Time is of the essence. To achieve the ambitious goal to decarbonise our industry, we must take every action necessary to reach that vision, and we must start on that pathway today.

At Stena Bulk we are constantly pushing boundaries to drive the industry forward. We are committed to technological investment and innovation, which of course includes the research and development of energy efficient, new, low carbon fuels, many of which remain in their infancy. For us, future fuels trials are progressive and commercially sensible steps that future proof our fleet and our processes and will drive further commercial success for Stena Bulk in the future. 

We remain considered about the best way and approach to embed future fuels across our fleet. But, as many of you know, we are also more and more confident about methanol and want to join and lead in the growing chorus behind the fuel. 

Proof of this is found in our joint venture with Swiss-based Proman, the world’s second largest methanol producer, who have extensive experience in petrochemical plant operations and petrochemical and power plant construction. Together, we’re committed to developing, scaling, and making the market for sustainable methanol as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels.

The very near future is bright for methanol in our operations. In early 2022, we will take delivery of the state-of-the-art IMOIIMeMAX methanol-fuelled 49,900 DWT vessel Stena Pro Patria, which will be the first of the three methanol vessels to be built by Proman Stena Bulk. This will mark the operational beginning of our joint venture. Then, soon after, we’ll take delivery of and begin operating two further methanol-fuelled tankers: Stena ProMare and Stena Prosperous. 

We’ve discussed before that these vessels will feature several design and technical improvements to optimise energy and fuel efficiency. Each vessel will use approximately 12,500 tonnes of methanol as fuel per year, which we hope shows to the market that methanol is a credible, scalable, and available future fuel solution.  

Having Stena Pro Patria, Stena ProMare and Stena Prosperous in the pipeline of our planned fleet expansion is very exciting for Stena Bulk. It only serves to strengthen our commitment to be at the cutting edge of the industry’s decarbonisation journey that we are contending with. We see that methanol has a high potential to be one of the solutions shipping needs on this journey. 

In a quest of such magnitude, we’re very proud to embrace a partnership approach and work collaboratively with a company like Proman to develop exceptional innovations when it comes to methanol. 

We understand that not all work is done in the field of methanol yet. Firstly, its viability as a widely adopted alternative fuel is highly dependent on production, which will need to scale up and accelerate to meet the level of demand that the industry needs to achieve its decarbonisation targets. Additionally, it is crucial that methanol becomes a financially and commercially competitive option, for which there are a range of solutions. 

The good news is that there is progress in the right direction on both fronts, which gives us plenty of hope for the future of methanol as a marine fuel. 

We stand by the belief that innovating future fuels is commercially sensible in the face of the upheaval that is coming in the next few years, and that’s why innovation is at the centre of everything we are currently doing. The level of change our industry is going to experience is truly unprecedented. That’s why it pays to be ahead of the curve and working to scale the solutions of tomorrow, because by doing so we’ll create a rising tide that will help to lift all ships. 

From our subject-matter knowledge and the insights that we’ve gathered from our partnerships with companies operating in the methanol sector, we are confident that methanol is one of the very few existing solutions with a clear, scalable, and financially and commercially sensitive pathway in the right direction.

We look forward to more collaboration on future fuels – both methanol and the other solutions we are trialling – and to sharing more news about the exciting sustainability, innovation, and commercial initiatives we are spearheading over the Autumn and Winter.  

Gothenburg, August 2021
Erik Hånell, President & CEO at Stena Bulk