The great challenge of predicting the tanker market became highly apparent in 2020, which commenced with a first half-year in which demand set new records, only to plummet in September.
With a fleet of 80 owned, managed and controlled tankers in global traffic, Stena Bulk is one of the world’s leading tanker operators. The business idea is to offer secure, innovative and cost-effective marine transport of crude oil, refined oil products, chemicals and LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas). The strategy is to adopt a holistic perspective, from development and construction to technical operation, with the crewing and chartering of first-class tankers and LNG vessels.
HIGH DEMAND IN THE FIRST HALF-YEAR
The tanker sector is affected by extreme volatility and low predictability, and
2020 was no exception. During the early spring, the oil price dived. As the pandemic spread across the world, it led to concern that the restrictions introduced would curtail demand, while oil production remained high. The price drop led many to stockpile oil – and once shore-based tanks were full, tanker shipping companies were hired in order to use ships to store oil. “The contract was for 3–6 months and expired at the end of September. This in turn meant that we enjoyed a record-high first half year, far better than we could have foreseen, but then demand dropped abruptly in early autumn, while OPEC made significant reductions,” says MD Erik Hånell. The vessels are operated in the spot market, where demand during the year corresponded to the general tanker market, with high volatility. Stena Bulk reported an overall profit for the year.
PROGRESS WITH ALTERNATIVE FUELS
Stena Bulk is committed to leading the industry towards reduced carbon emissions. Several new initiatives in this area were presented during the year. In June, Stena Bulk completed its first voyage using biofuel from ExxonMobil. This trial once again shows the potential of biofuel as an alternative to conventional fuel for the operation of commercial vessels. “As a consequence of the successful biofuel trials, during the year we introduced the opportunity for our customers to choose fuel alternatives which reduce carbon emissions,” says Erik Hånell.
Another initiative is the further development of the Proman Stena Bulk joint venture, with an order for an additional methanol tanker. This vessel, the Stena Prosperous, together with the previously ordered Stena ProMare and Stena ProPatria – all three are being built in China – is planned to be put into operation in 2022. Proman Stena Bulk also has an option for a further two vessels. All vessels will be powered by methanol, reducing emissions of SOX (sulphur oxides), NOX (nitrogen oxides), particles and gases. “With methanol as our energy source, we can see a clear path to more sustainable sea tanker transport,” says Erik Hånell.
During the summer, Stena Bulk also presented a prototype for the next-generation product and chemical tanker, IMOFlexMAX, which will be powered by the sun and wind, among other things. This is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25 per cent, compared to other modern tankers. “IMOFlexMAX is leading the way to a more sustainable future as one of the most energy efficient tanker vessels in the market. It was designed by world-leading shipbuilders at Stena Teknik, based on our 40 years’ tanker shipping experience. Our strength lies in our capacity for innovation, combined with our longstanding accumulation of expertise,” says Erik Hånell.
For Stena Bulk, it is important to protect natural resources and the surrounding environment, with zero tolerance for oil spills as the objective. In 2020, CO2 emissions increased from the previous year, since the operated fleet consisted of several large vessels (Suezmax), which use more fuel. Stena Bulk is involved in various initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, including trial runs with biofuel as the sole energy source in 2020. Global statutory requirements for low-sulphur fuel brought a significant reduction of SOX emissions, by 82 per cent in absolute figures compared to 2019. As from 2020, Stena Bulk reports EEOI and AER figures for its vessels. These are both good energy efficiency metrics, as they ensure comparability between years, despite changes in business volumes.
Share of Total income
Capital employed, MSEK