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US Gulf’s First Barge-to-Ship Methanol Bunkering Completed at Port Houston

Stena Prosperous. Photo courtesy Proman Stena Bulk

US Gulf’s First Barge-to-Ship Methanol Bunkering Completed at Port Houston

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1685
April 21, 2023

Proman Stena Bulk has announced the successful execution of the first-ever barge-to-ship methanol bunkering operation on the US Gulf Coast.

The joint venture was formed in 2019 and is a 50/50 collaboration between tanker company Stena Bulk and methanol producer Proman. The milestone bunkering involved its tankers, Stena Pro Marine and Stena Prosperous, which were refueled with methanol by a Kirby tanker barge while discharging clean petroleum products at a terminal in the Port Houston earlier this month.

During the bunkering operation, Stena Pro Marine received 1,408 metric tons (MT) of methanol, while Stena Prosperous was refueled with 1,203 MT.

“Completing the first barge-to-ship methanol bunkering on the US Gulf Coast is a tremendous achievement for the Proman Stena Bulk joint venture,” said Anita Gajadhar, executive director of marketing, logistics and shipping at Proman. “The Port of Houston is a major global cargo hub with significant latent methanol storage capacity. These qualities made it a natural testbed for our first US ship-to-ship bunkering.”

Delivered in 2022, Stena Pro Marine and Stena Prosperous are two of Proman Stena Bulk’s six methanol-fueled IMOIIMeMax series vessels. Conventional methanol from natural gas, which is widely available, virtually eliminates SOx and particulate matter, cuts NOx by 60%, and reduces CO2 emissions from the vessel’s operations by up to 15% on a tank-to-wake basis, compared to conventional marine fuels.

This pioneering bunkering operation aligns with ongoing efforts by US ports and shipping companies to increase sustainability in the industry. As part of its strategy to become carbon neutral within the next 30 years, the Port of Houston is focusing on the deployment of alternative fuels and clean energy sources. The bunkering also supports the US’s commitment to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030 under the Global Methane Pledge, which was announced at the COP26 climate summit in 2021.

Kirby Corporation, the largest tanker barge provider in the US, partnered with Proman Stena Bulk to carry out the operation.

Kirby Marine Group President Christian O’Neil expressed the company’s enthusiasm for providing services for the project, citing their extensive expertise with methanol as a cargo, conventional bunkering, and barge-to-ship lightering of various products. “We are committed to remaining a leader in energy transportation, regardless of the form that energy takes. We look forward to doing this again and again in Houston and beyond,” he said.

Proman is also investing in its own low-carbon and green methanol production capabilities, including the development of a new 100,000-tonne-per-year methanol facility in North America. The facility, set to commence operations in 2025, will produce bio-methanol from non-recyclable forestry residues and municipal solid waste, contributing significantly to the circular economy.

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