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Successful Completion of the First Barge-to-Ship Methanol Bunkering on the US Gulf Coast
Successful Completion of the First Barge-to-Ship Methanol Bunkering on the US Gulf Coast

Successful Completion of the First Barge-to-Ship Methanol Bunkering on the US Gulf Coast

  • 01-Jun-2023 5:02 PM
  • Journalist: Timothy Greene

US: Proman Stena Bulk, a joint venture between Methanol producer Proman and tanker company Stena Bulk, has announced the successful completion of the first barge-to-ship Methanol bunkering on the U.S. Gulf Coast. In early April, while discharging clean petroleum products at a terminal in the Port of Houston, the JV tankers Stena Pro Marine and Stena Prosperous were refuelled with Methanol via barge.

1,408 MT of Methanol was used to fuel Stena Pro Marine, while 1,203 MT was utilized to refuel Stena Prosperous during the operation. Both vessels were chartered by a global trading house during the time of the refuelling. The partnership with Kirby Corporation, the largest tanker barge provider in the United States, facilitated the barge-to-ship Methanol bunkering.

Anita Gajadhar, Proman's Executive Director of Marketing, Logistics, and Shipping, expressed her delight. She emphasized that the Port of Houston's position as a significant global cargo hub, coupled with its substantial latent Methanol storage capacity, made it an ideal testing ground for their first US ship-to-ship bunkering. Gajadhar added that Proman Stena Bulk remains committed to collaborating with partners across the supply chain to establish Methanol bunkering facilities worldwide at key strategic bunker hubs, and such initiatives prove the viability of the Methanol marine fuel supply chain.

Christian O'Neil, President of Kirby Marine Group, expressed his satisfaction as the service provider for the successful barge-to-ship Methanol bunkering in Houston. He revealed that their extensive experience with Methanol as a cargo, conventional bunkering, and barge-to-ship lightering of all products made it a natural fit. O'Neil added that Kirby is committed to maintaining its leadership position in energy transportation, regardless of the form of energy being transported. Furthermore, due to major petrochemical hubs and significant storage capacity, over 275,000MT of Methanol is available at the Port of Houston, which is the busiest port in the United States in terms of foreign tonnage.

The first-ever barge-to-ship Methanol bunkering marks a significant milestone in the efforts of U.S. ports and shipping companies to promote sustainability within the industry. The Port of Houston, for instance, plans to achieve carbon neutrality within three decades, with a primary focus on transitioning to alternative fuels and clean energy sources. Moreover, the Methanol bunkering aligns with U.S. commitments to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030 under the Global Methane Pledge, announced at the COP26 climate summit in 2021.

Conventional Methanol, which is sourced from natural gas and readily available, effectively eliminates SOx and particulate matter while reducing NOx emissions by 80%. Furthermore, tank-to-wake CO2 emissions from commercial operations of vessels can be decreased by up to 15% when compared to conventional marine fuels. By leveraging Methanol as a marine fuel option, the joint venture vessels are equipped to meet all future emission targets since larger volumes of low-carbon and green Methanol will soon be accessible for blending and bunkering.

There is a growing trend towards producing green Methanol using sustainable sources such as renewable energy or sustainable biomass, which offers substantial scalability. To this end, Proman is investing in the expansion of its low-carbon and green Methanol production capabilities. This includes the development of a new 100,000-tonne-per-year Methanol facility in North America.

The project is presently being constructed with a target start date for operations set in 2025. The upcoming facility will contribute significantly to the circular economy by producing bio-Methanol using non-recyclable forestry residues and municipal solid waste as raw materials.

This first-ever barge-to-ship Methanol bunkering on the U.S. Gulf Coast precedes the naming ceremony for Stena Promise at the Port of Rotterdam. This is particularly noteworthy since Rotterdam was where Proman Stena Bulk carried out its inaugural barge-to-ship Methanol bunkering in August 2022, with Stena Pro Patria receiving the fuel during a scheduled port call.

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