On 23 January, the world’s first methanol ferry, Stena Germanica, was the first non-tanker to complete ship-to-ship (STS) methanol bunkering at the Port of Gothenburg.

The bunkering was made possible by a number of different stakeholders collaborating throughout the whole process. 

Canada-headquartered methanol supplier Methanex Corporation, Swedish ferry operator Stena Line and the Port of Gothenburg have participated in the project.

Methanex provided the methanol, while tanker operator E&S carried out the bunkering itself in practice with its vessel Stolt Sandpiper. The aim was to advance methanol as a cleaner burning marine fuel to support the shipping industry’s shift towards decarbonization. 

The bunkered ship was Stena Line’s ro-ro and passenger vessel Stena Germanica, which until now has been bunkering methanol solely from trucks.

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“The Stena Germanica, connecting Gothenburg, Sweden with Kiel, Germany, became the world’s first methanol-powered ferry when Stena Line converted the 240-meter vessel in 2015 in partnership with Methanex, Wärtsilä, the Port of Gothenburg and the Port of Kiel. We welcome ship to ship bunkering as a tool to achieve a stable and efficient supply chain for methanol which is critical in Stena Line’s shift to alternative fuels and to retain our position as a leader in sustainable shipping,” said Maria Tornvall, Head of Sustainability at Stena Line.

“This is a door-opening demonstration, proving that there is a feasible way to handle ship to ship methanol bunkering. This strengthens our position as a bunker hub and is also showcasing for other ports that this can be done in a safe and efficient way – not only here, but in other ports around the world as well,” said Christoffer Lillhage, Senior Business Development Manager Energy at the Gothenburg Port Authority.

“As the world’s largest producer and supplier of methanol, we’re pleased to continue our collaboration with Stena Line to demonstrate that methanol is a leading alternative, cleaner burning, future-proof marine fuel. This first ship to ship methanol bunkering for a non-tanker, leveraging our partners E&S Tankers and Port of Gothenburg, is further evidence that methanol is globally available, safe to ship, store and handle using procedures similar to those for conventional marine fuels,” said Karine Delbarre, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing & Logistics at Methanex.

The Port of Gothenburg has a long history of advocating and facilitating alternative fuels in the transition to greener shipping. A mix of alternative fuels is required, where methanol is a key component.

“We want to establish the Port of Gothenburg as the primary bunkering hub for alternative marine fuels in northern Europe. Today we are one step closer to that goal and we are ready to receive more methanol vessels,” said Christoffer Lillhage.

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Methanol as a marine fuel has positive environmental and climate properties and is making strong progress in international shipping.

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For example, the world’s largest container shipping company Maersk Line has 19 larger methanol-propelled container ships on order.

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Maersk has set a net-zero emissions target for 2040 across the entire business. The company is also working to achieve tangible near-term targets for 2030, which include a 50% reduction in emissions per transported container in the Maersk Ocean fleet compared to 2020 and only ordering newbuilt vessels that can be operated on green fuels.

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