MOL buys into the world’s largest methanol tanker fleet

Japan’s largest shipowner by fleet size, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), is buying into the world’s most advanced methanol shipper.

MOL is paying $145m to take a 40% stake in Waterfront Shipping (WFS), the tanker subsidiary of methanol producer Methanex. Paul Hexter is set to remain as president at WFS, running the world’s largest methanol ocean tanker fleet.

The strategic partnership strengthens a relationship established over 30 years between Methanex, WFS and MOL who, in 2016 in conjunction with other partners, jointly built the first ocean-going dual-fuel vessel capable of running on methanol.

“With Methanex as the world-leading methanol producer, WFS as the world’s leading methanol shipper, and MOL’s vast shipping experience, the parties intend to advance the commercialization of methanol, including renewable methanol, as a viable marine fuel,” the parties stated in a release.

Takeshi Hashimoto, president of MOL, said, “This transaction is consistent with MOL’s Environmental Vision 2.1, which regards our active involvement in methanol-fuelled ships as one of the measures for adopting clean alternative fuels.”

The move to buy into the methanol sector mirrors MOL’s decision earlier this year to buy into Norway-based Larvik Shipping, a pioneer in the shipping of carbon dioxide. MOL has been exploring methanol as a fuel for the last six years. Last month it was hit hard when an American methanol project it had invested in, along with Hafnia, was cancelled.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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