Stena Bulk’s 2023 year in review
December 2023

As 2023 comes to a close, the time is right to reflect on yet another transformative year for the shipping industry. Over the last twelve months, we have seen increased market volatility, disruptions to the global supply chain, the impacts of local conflicts, and the industry continuing to grapple with international compliance issues such as sanctions on Russian oil. 

However, despite these challenges, this year has ultimately been a strong one, and perhaps a record-breaking one, for many tanker shipping companies. I have to underline that Stena Bulk’s success over the last year doesn’t just boil down to reacting to market volatility; it's a result of our excellent team consistently delivering great results, thinking long-term, and prioritising customer satisfaction.

We’ve been able to use the momentum gained over this year to help spearhead and launch several new initiatives. Some of these tie in directly with our sustainability strategy, and others seek to broaden our customer-centric focus. 

First, our work with our partners and friends at Proman continues to bear fruit. Alongside holding the official naming ceremonies of four out of our six methanol tankers within the joint venture, in Rotterdam, New Orleans and Guangzhou, we also launched our LEMSCO sustainable shipping fund. 

The Fund is backed by equity investors and benefits from a green loan from ABN AMRO. LEMSCO’s seed assets consist of four of our methanol fuelled joint venture tankers. 

LEMSCO will also benefit from a dedicated methanol supply contract from Proman, ensuring that the fleet’s operations are not only cost-effective but also powered by a technology-proven and globally available low-emission alternative fuel.

I eagerly anticipate the future developments and successes that will unfold as the fund continues to evolve in the coming years.

On the digital front, we were proud to welcome Bureau Veritas as an investor in OrbitMI – a partnership that we believe is a perfect match. This collaboration has the potential to push the shipping industry towards more digitalised and eco-friendly practices by speeding up the development of both current and innovative data-driven solutions.

On the fleet front, earlier this year we teamed up with Crowley to successfully put three of our IMOIIMAXes into the US Tanker Security Program. Meanwhile, we're also working on improving our fleet by adding environmentally friendly MRs, expected to be delivered in 2025. Additionally, we've secured long-term charters for some of our existing vessels, showing our dedication to sustainability and ongoing growth. 

It would also be remiss of me not to mention that this year marked a special anniversary for the Stena Sonangol Suezmax pool, which celebrated its 18th birthday. This enduring partnership stands as a testament to the strength and quality of our collaborations, encompassing various aspects of our operations.

Looking forward, we expect this good period to continue for a while. But it’s critical that we collectively resist the urge to overbuild, at least for the near future. In this respect we are perhaps advantaged by the fact that prices for newbuildings remain elevated at shipyards.

More broadly, and as we believe our work with Proman shows, all tanker operators are grappling with the transition to future fuels. Without the right incentives and the right regulations, investment cases are going to be hard to build. I’ve been clear over the last year that we must build the case for the transition and reward proactivity and pragmatism where possible.  

On the topic of our crew, without whom we would not be able to operate, we’re proud that we remain committed to our goal of achieving zero personal injuries and minimising the impact of any environmental, property, or equipment damage. We recognise the importance of prioritising safety and mitigating the consequences should unforeseen incidents occur. I am very grateful to our crew for their continued hard work and to our shoreside teams for all the efforts they take to keep crew and vessels safe at sea. 

Finally, I once again want to underline that our success over the last year is fundamentally due to our dedicated and brilliant team. We as a company remain optimistic about the future while recognising the necessity for vigilance in a dynamic market. I believe that our unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction and adaptability positions us strongly to navigate unforeseen challenges in the years ahead.

We eagerly look forward to navigating the challenges and opportunities that 2024 holds. In the meantime, on behalf of the team at Stena Bulk, I want to wish everyone a very Happy Holidays and a restful New Year.

By Erik Hånell, President & CEO of Stena Bulk
December 2023