PM: Methanol-fuelled ships mean economic turnaround for Trinidad and Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Stena Pro Patria at the International Waterfront Centre in Port of Spain. – Photo by Sureash Cholai

LESS than a week after the world gathered at the COP27 in Egypt to discuss the effects of climate change and steps to resolve it, the Prime Minister on Thursday afternoon told the world this country is a producer of clean gas and is ready to serve.

Dr Rowley spoke at the naming ceremony for the first of six methanol-fuelled vessels, the Stena Pro Patria, at the Waterfront, Hyatt Regency Hotel. The vessel is the product of a joint venture between energy company Proman Group and tanker operator Stena Bulk. It was named after the late Dennis Patrick, former CEO of Methanol Holdings (Trinidad) Ltd, a subsidiary of Proman companies.

Rowley said now the world is finally accepting that natural gas is the cleaner fuel and this country is one of the world’s leaders in methanol production, he invited shipping companies to think of TT, because of its proximity to the Panama Canal,as a refuelling hub, should they decide to “go clean.”

“We in TT know that there is an opportunity here for us if we get up and take that opportunity. We are one of the largest producers and exporters of methanol in the world, and we happen to be placed at the tip of South America and east of Panama, where all these vessels are being encouraged to change their fuel consumption from dirty fuel to clean fuel, and that fuel is available in TT.”

He said the government and Proman had the same thoughts on that issue and deepened their partnership to transform the country into a refuelling hub for vessels using methanol. This, he said, encouraged Proman to go a step further and build vessels that use methanol.

“Bunkering in TT is to be a major part of our economic development, because we have something that we normally sell to the world thousands of miles away that we can sell to passers-by. This will be a major, a major development with respect to the response in fighting climate-change issues as well as expanding the economy.”

He said methanol is not the fuel of the future but the fuel of the present, as he reminded Proman that while the company’s headquarters is in Zurich, Switzerland, its navel string is buried in TT.

Continuing the discussion of economic growth with methanol fuel, David Cassidy, chief executive of the Proman Group, told those gathered that the first group of cadets who will man the ship were trained at the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

“We will help to drive the decarbonisation of shipping, which must meet and exceed local and regional regulations, exceeding the demands of our customers in their transition and exceeding personal expectations. Methanol will play a leading role in energy transition. It is the only alternative marine fuel currently available to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.”

He said as TT is the largest producer and exporter of methanol, there is a huge opportunity for both the company and the country to benefit both economically and through its skill set. Cassidy said with this country’s reputation for its management of petrochemical, operational and plant management expertise, it is poised to develop the next generation of low-carbon renewable-methanol plants.