Shipping firm Stolt Tankers is considering retrofits to methanol propulsion for six newly-ordered tankers.
The firm announced the order of the six 38,000 DWT vessels from Wuhu Shipyard this week.
At the point of order the vessels are due to be conventionally fuelled, but the use of methanol may come in future, a company representative told Ship & Bunker. Retrofits to include battery power are also an option.
"They're conventionally fuelled today, but ready to be retrofitted for the fuels of tomorrow," the representative said.
The ships are due for delivery between 2026 and 2028. With a commercial life of around 25 years after that, conventional fuels are unlikely to be enough to comply with future GHG emissions regulations, and biofuels may not be available in sufficient quantities as a drop-in replacement.
"This deal positions Stolt Tankers for the future by improving flexibility and maintaining our fleet size as we retire older ships from our network between 2026 and 2030," Udo Lange, CEO of parent company Stolt-Nielsen, said in a press release announcing the order earlier this week.
"It also reflects our strategy to add modern, fuel-efficient ships to our fleet to support our customers by improving our service offering and making their supply chains simpler and more sustainable."
Methanol is rapidly gaining in popularity as an alternative marine fuel, with orders of methanol-fuelled tonnage now coming in regularly from a variety of shipping segments. The main challenge for this market will be the scaling-up of green methanol supply in time to meet the needs of the new ships as they are delivered.