Seatrade Maritime Middle East 2021: Ida Fredriksson’s views on the journey to zero carbon shipping
December 2021

By Ida Fredriksson, Head of Stena Bulk Dubai
December 2021

Earlier this month, I attended the Seatrade Maritime Middle East exhibition and conference in Dubai and joined the event’s ‘The Difficult Journey to Zero Carbon Shipping’ panel discussion. During this panel, I had the opportunity to chat with other Middle East-based industry colleagues about the commercial challenges of achieving decarbonisation in shipping and share what each of our respective companies are doing to overcome them.

The moderator kickstarted the discussion by asking what Stena Bulk is doing to move towards decarbonisation and what challenges we are facing in reaching this goal. As many of you know, our commitment to pioneering innovation and sustainability excellence is part of Stena Bulk’s DNA and has been a crucial element of our business strategy for a very long time. What’s key for us is ensuring that we are constantly pushing boundaries to drive the industry forward. We are highly committed to championing multiple pathways with the knowledge that not every initiative will succeed or reach full market fruition.

As I explained on the panel, technological investment and future fuels research and development is - unfortunately - still seen by many in our industry as speculative. On the contrary, though, at Stena Bulk we are of the view that these steps are progressive and that they will drive further commercial success in the future; a view that our CEO Erik Hånell has shared in many forums over the last year. 

We believe that this balance between pragmatism and ambition is one of the main challenges that shipping faces in reaching decarbonisation. How can we manage this transition while remaining commercially successful and profitable? The answer isn’t black and white. Ultimately, in the realistic day-to-day of doing business, this will not be an ‘all or nothing’ transition. Tanker shipping is integral to the world economy and, until new energy sources are found and scaled - and their cost decreases - the cargo that we transport has an important role to play in all our lives.

When we engage in conversations about decarbonisation, sometimes we need to be prepared to answer difficult but fair questions from our peers in the maritime community. Some of them see an inherent conflict between decarbonisation and the transportation of oil products, which is at the core of our business activity. However, we believe that there is a green way to go about our operations and that there is a long-term future for companies which, like us, are currently involved in crude transportation. It goes without saying that a huge part of this solutions lies in figuring out how we can work with our customers to effect real change at a pace that suits all of us equally. 

After all, Stena Bulk’s purpose and contribution to society is to supply the world with the energy and resources that it needs. Sustainability is about the environment, but it’s also about making sure that people around the world can heat their homes, have food to eat, and get to work. Although the energy that we transport today is mostly oil and oil-derived products, we’ll engage in the transportation of the renewable energy that the future will bring while continuing to transport oil - in the most sustainable way possible – for as long as the world needs it. 

We remain fully committed to an approach that enables us to work flexibly and champion innovation in vital areas such as future low and zero carbon fuels – namely making methanol a financially and commercially competitive option - while also doing our part to ‘keep the lights on’ for the global economy. And, as I have already outlined, we know that we can bring our customers along in this journey, as we can’t decarbonise without involving all aspects of the supply chain. Importantly, we’ve pledged to become a net zero emissions business by 2050, and this will require that everything that we carry will be climate neutral.

I would like to finish this blog by thanking Seatrade Maritime for the invitation to participate in the panel and for providing a valuable platform to discuss the timely issues affecting our industry. I look forward to the opportunity to participate in conferences, roundtables, and other events in the future. Finally, I would like to wish our readers a safe festive season and a happy New Year; here is to an exciting 2022 where issues like decarbonisation will continue to be debated and acted upon by the industry.

Dubai, December 2021
Ida Fredriksson, Head of Stena Bulk Dubai