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MOL Seeks to Grow Methanol with Investment in Waterfront Shipping

Japan's Mitsui expands methanol position
Manchac Sun introduced in 2016 was the first dual-fuel ship to operate on methanol (Waterfront Shipping)

Published Jul 16, 2021 5:39 PM by The Maritime Executive

In an effort to advance the commercialization of methanol as an alternative marine fuel and to expand its participation in the emerging market, Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) will acquire a minority stake in Methanex Corporation’s Waterfront Shipping subsidiary. 

According to the companies, the new strategic investment buildings on a relationship started over 30 years ago that also contributed to the launch of the first dual-fuel vessel using methanol that was launched in 2016. Waterfront Shipping, which has a fleet of approximately 30 vessels ranging from 3,000 to 50,000 deadweight tons, specializing in the transport of bulk chemicals and clean petroleum products to North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America. Within Waterfront Shipping fleet are 11 methanol-fueled ships and last fall the company announced with its partners it would build eight new 49,000 ton methanol dual-fueled tankers as part of a fleet renewal program. The eight vessels, designed with the MAN second-generation B&W ME-LGIM two-stroke dual-fuel engines, will be built in South Korea at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and delivered between 2021 and 2023. 

“We are pleased to expand our relationship with MOL, which will enable Waterfront Shipping to enhance its capabilities by leveraging MOL’s extensive global shipping experience,” said John Floren, President & CEO of Methanex. “We have worked with MOL for over 30 years on methanol shipping since the era of Cape Horn Methanol Ltd., a predecessor to Methanex’s Chile operations, and we are confident that our new strategic relationship will help develop the market for methanol as a lower emission marine fuel.”

Under the terms of the new agreement, MOL will acquire a 40 percent minority interest in Waterfront Shipping for $145 million with Methanex retaining the remaining 60 percent majority interest and continuing to operate Waterfront Shipping. The closing is subject to regulatory approval and is expected by the end of the year after all customary conditions are met.

The three companies will establish a strategic partnership, which will enable Methanex and Waterfront Shipping to benefit from MOL’s shipping experience and they intend to work together to advance the commercialization of methanol, including renewable methanol, as a viable marine fuel.

The strategic partnership strengthens a relationship established over 30 years between Methanex, Waterfront Shipping and MOL. In 2016, in conjunction with other key partners, they jointly built the first ocean-going dual-fuel vessel capable of running on methanol.