Stena and Proman to Develop Methanol Retrofit Solution for Shipping 

Stena and Proman plan retrofit solution for vessels to run on methanol
Proman and Stena are building methanol-powered tankers while looking to convert exsiting ships (Proman)

Published Oct 21, 2021 4:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

One of the challenges for the global shipping industry to meet targets for decarbonization is finding a solution to address existing vessels that permits them to economically convert to allow low carbon operations. Proman, one of the world’s largest producers of methanol, together with shipping company Stena announced that they plan to develop a retrofit and supply solution to permit existing vessels to adopt methanol as their fuel source.

The companies estimate that currently, more than 70,000 vessels are operating around the globe. They are citing data that says unchecked, emissions from the existing fleet could increase by as much as 130 percent from 2008 levels by 2050. Transitioning to low-carbon fuels will be essential to secure the long-term future of the industry, but they cite both the lack of currently available technologies and the economic challenges for shipowners. 

In service vessels have an average lifespan of approximately 25-30 years, but the costs of conversions often outweigh the benefits. Hapag-Lloyd for example converted one of its containerships that was built LNG-ready to be fueled on the gas starting late last year. The line’s CEO in interviews has said, however, the cost of the conversion went beyond budget and made future conversions uneconomical. 

Proman and Stena highlight methanol saying by offering immediate, and urgently required benefits, it is the only clear pathway currently available to a sustainable future. In addition to being a clean-burning fuel that reduces carbon emissions, they highlight that methanol’s biodegradable and water-soluble qualities significantly reduce the risk to marine environments.

“We believe that methanol is a clear frontrunner in shipping’s search for fuels beyond the fossil default and we are proud to be playing our part to help build the market for alternative fuels within shipping,” said Per Westling, CEO Stena RoRo. “We converted Stena Germanica to methanol power in 2015 with another current partner, and that gives us valuable experience both from a conversion and operational perspective.”

Proman and Stena are committed to jointly developing a retrofit and supply solution, enabling both Stena’s approximately 140 vessels, as well as vessels operated by other companies, to experience the immediate environmental benefits and greenhouse gas emission reductions delivered by methanol.

The plans for the retrofit and supply solution build on the previously announced joint venture between Stena Bulk and Proman for methanol-ready tankers. The first of these vessels, the 49,900 dwt Stena Pro Patria will be delivered in early 2022, with a further three Proman-owned and mutually operated dual-fuel vessels due in 2023.
“Methanol is the only available alternative marine fuel that offers immediate emissions reductions, dramatically improving air quality and delivering a clear shipping decarbonization pathway for 2050 and beyond. Unlike other alternative marine fuels, methanol utilizes existing technology and is safe and widely available,” said David Cassidy, Chief Executive of Proman.

By developing the solution based on their experience with methanol, the companies hope to make methanol more widely available to vessel owners around the world and help facilitate the transition to a cleaner shipping industry.