MOL to boost methanol footprint with Waterfront stake

Japanese shipping giant Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has announced that it will acquire 40% of Methanex Corporation’s subsidiary Waterfront Shipping (WFS) to expand its involvement in methanol-fueled ships.

Under the agreement worth $145 million, the companies will establish a strategic partnership, which will enable Methanex and WFS to benefit from MOL’s broad shipping experience.

Furthermore, Methanex will retain the remaining 60% majority interest in WFS, while the WFS’ daily activities remain unchanged.

The company also noted that the definitive agreements are subject to formal approval by MOL’s Board of Directors. If all customary conditions are met, the acquisition will be completed by the end of the year.

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

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“We have worked with MOL for over 30 years on methanol shipping since the era of Cape Horn Methanol Ltd., a predecessor to Methanex’s Chile operations, and we are confident that our new strategic relationship will help develop the market for methanol as a lower emission marine fuel,” John Floren, President & CEO of Methanex, said.

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

The Japanese shipping giant has pledged to invest approximately ¥200 billion ($1.81 billion) in low carbon/decarbonization fields over three years from the 2021 to 2023 fiscal year.

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Over the recent period, the company has revealed several initiatives aimed at switching from fossil fuels to alternative fuels such as methanol.

Methanol as a marine fuel is believed to reduce sulphur oxides (SOx)
by up to 99 percent, particulate matter (PM) emissions by up to 95 percent, and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by up to 80 percent compared to conventional marine fuels.

Moreover, methanol produced from renewable sources can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 95 percent compared to conventional marine fuels, providing a pathway to meet the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) decarbonization goals.

According to the shipping consultancy firm Drewry, half of the vessels ordered after 2025 are expected to have dual-fuel engines, with a large percentage using methanol as a marine fuel.