Proman Stena Bulk, the joint venture between tanker company Stena Bulk and methanol producer Proman, has announced the successful completion of the first barge-to-ship methanol bunkering on the US Gulf Coast.

The JV tankers Stena Pro Marine and Stena Prosperous were refuelled with methanol via barge while discharging clean petroleum products at a terminal in the Port of Houston in the first week of April.

Stena Pro Marine was bunkered with 1,408MT of methanol, and Stena Prosperous was refuelled with 1,203MT during the operation. Both ships were time-chartered to a global trading house at the time of the refuelling.

The barge bunkering operation was conducted jointly with Kirby Corporation, the largest tanker barge provider in the US.

“Completing the first barge-to-ship methanol bunkering on the US Gulf Coast is a tremendous achievement for the Proman Stena Bulk joint venture. 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,” said Anita Gajadhar, executive director of marketing, logistics and shipping at Proman.

“Proman Stena Bulk continues to work with partners across the supply chain to develop methanol bunkering facilities worldwide and at key strategic bunker hubs. Announcements like today’s continue to prove the viability of the methanol marine fuel supply chain.”

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The landmark first bunkering supports wider efforts by US ports and shipping companies to make the industry more sustainable. The Port of Houston aims to become carbon neutral in the next 30 years and a key pillar of the port’s strategy is the deployment of alternative fuels and clean energy sources.

The bunkering also supports US commitments to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030 under the Global Methane Pledge, which was announced at the COP26 climate summit in 2021. Methanol as a marine fuel clearly supports the ambitions of the pledge to cut back on methane emissions across the energy value chain in the near term.

“Kirby was pleased to be the service provider for this job. It was a natural for us: we have extensive expertise with methanol as a cargo, with conventional bunkering, and with barge-to-ship lightering of all manner of products,” said Kirby Marine Group President Christian O’Neil.

“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.”

Proman says it is investing in its own low-carbon and green methanol production capabilities, including a new 100,000-tonne-per-year methanol facility in development in North America.

The project is currently being constructed with a target start of operations in 2025. The facility will produce bio-methanol from non-recyclable forestry residues and municipal solid waste and will substantially contribute to the circular economy.