Creole Sun is powered by a MAN B&W ME-LGIM engine (credit: Waterfront Shipping)
The global methanol fleet is set to grow with shipowners Hafnia and MOL planning to order dual-fuel vessels to support their investment in the Northwest Innovation Works’ methanol production facility the port of Kalama in Washington, USA.
The 36m t/y plant, expected to be operational in 2024, will convert regionally sourced natural gas to methanol which will be shipped to Asia at a rate of one MR cargo every four days.
Hafnia already operates a fleet of 178 vessels including 47 MR tankers, and a spokesperson for the company says the size of the new methanol-fuelled newbuilds will depend on berthing facilities available. The company anticipates a mixture of different sized vessels, and once the details have been decided, it will commence a tender round with shortlisted shipyards. Hafnia’s vessels will transport a third of the methanol produced by the plant.
MOL has also invested in the Washington project and committed to operate purpose-built vessels to service the plant. MOL already operates the world’s first series of methanol carriers with main engines using methanol. The 50,000dwt Cajun Sun, Manchac Sun and Taranaki Sun were delivered in 2016 and chartered to Waterfront Shipping, a subsidiary of Methanex Corporation. They were built at Minaminippon Shipbuilding with engines supplied by licensee Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co.
A Growing Fleet
The global methanol-fuelled fleet continues to grow, most recently when South Korean owner KSS Line ordered a 50,000dwt MR tanker in April. The order marked KSS Line’s entry into the MR tanker market, and when delivered she will be chartered to Waterfront Shipping which currently operates the world’s largest methanol ocean tanker fleet with 11 vessels.
Last year, IINO Kaiun Kaisha took delivery of the Creole Sun, a 49,000dwt methanol carrier equipped with a MAN Energy Solutions second-generation B&W ME-LGIM two-stroke dual-fuel engine. The vessel is on long-term charter to Waterfront Shipping as is NYK Group’s dual-fuel methanol 2019-newbuild Takaroa Sun.
Earlier in 2019, the company took delivery of two other 49,000dwt dual-fuel methanol tankers: Mari Couva and Mari Kokako, both built by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard. The vessels are part of a joint venture between Waterfront Shipping and Marinvest.
Waterfront Shipping now has approximately 40 percent of its long-term charter fleet capable of being powered by methanol. Westfal-Larsen, MOL and Marinvest/Skagerack initially ordered seven dual-fuelled 50,000dwt tankers for charter to Waterfront Shipping: the first in the series, the Lindanger, was the world’s first ocean-going vessel capable of running on methanol when she entered service.