Stena Bulk’s 2022 year in review
December 2022

By Erik Hånell, President & CEO of Stena Bulk
December 2022

As 2022 comes to an end, we mark the finale of yet another decisive year for the shipping industry. With the tanker market recovery this year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions regime, and the upcoming regulations coming into force for shipping’s decarbonisation all looming large, I wanted to reflect on some of the key moments from this year and share some of my outlook for 2023.

The latter part of 2022 has seen the market thriving after a difficult past couple of years that many of us in the tanker segment would rather forget. The sector has experienced mass recovery due to the shift in trade patterns caused by sanctions on Russian exports, which has increased tonne-miles requirements, with various new long-haul routes springing into being to keep the world moving. 

However, we must not rest on our laurels, after all, the last few years have proven how quickly a black swan event can disrupt best laid plans and strategies. The reality is that complexity is, in many respects, here to stay, and it will require all of us operating in the tanker space to continuously evaluate our approach and remain responsive and flexible to adjust to the future.

Much debate has been had recently around the role of the dark fleet and sanctions evasion with Russian crude. I was able to share my views in a recent interview, and the truth is that all of us who want to operate reputably must do even more due diligence on our assets beyond the point of sale. It once again proves to be the interconnected and interrelated nature of our business – and that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can create a tsunami we have to handle in the other.

Switching gears, on the decarbonisation front, I don’t need to explain the various measures that are coming into force in the new year. The Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) and Energy Efficiency Existing Ships Index (EEXI) both have significant implications and require a new degree of collaboration if they are to be effective.  We have been vocal in our support for regulations that help to curb our sector’s environmental impact and are pragmatic with what this transition to 2050 means for our own vessels. 

It's why we see technological investment and future fuels trials – particularly those focused on methanol - as progressive and commercially sensible. I’m proud of what our team is continuously able to achieve on this front. 

For example, our joint venture with Proman, the world’s second-largest methanol producer, now has three methanol-fuelled tankers operational. Each ship is burning methanol full-time, significantly reducing emissions in their normal commercial operations compared to conventional marine fuels. This is a huge leap forward for shipping’s future fuels pathway, and I cannot understate the pride that we feel for being able to prove methanol’s viability today.

Meanwhile, this year we also announced our collaboration with the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) and the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGC) on a two-year, three-phase project aimed at demonstrating shipboard carbon capture. By participating in this initiative and collaborating with our consortium partners, we hope to step closer to making carbon capture a reality for the global fleet. We are looking forward to seeing the results of this project as they unfold over the next couple of years.

We believe that partnerships and collaboration are crucial to scaling up innovation and will enable us to test and launch the solutions that shipping needs – particularly on testing and scaling the future fuels we need to decarbonise. 

Closer to home, and on a personal note, 2022 has also been a big year for Stena Bulk beyond the commercial and decarbonisation headlines, as we celebrate our 40th anniversary. It was wonderful to see many friends and colleagues in London earlier in December for our celebration, and I shared my personal reflections on this milestone in another recent post.

As we look back on the long journey that has taken us from six second-hand vessels to today's fleet of about 80 tankers of all types, shapes and sizes, totalling more than 3 million dwt, I am proud of what we have been able to achieve and of our unerring focus to ensure that we provide first class shipping services to our customers.

We look forward to navigating what promises to be another variable and interesting market in 2023. In the meantime, very Happy Holidays and wishing everyone a restful New Year from the whole team at Stena Bulk.