SUSTAINABLE SHIPPING AND PHYSICAL PRESENCE ARE SUCCESS FACTORS FOR
STENA RORO IN CHINA
“It is a tremendous advantage having our own office in Asia, especially in China,” says John Kollander, Chartering Manager for Stena RoRo globally and head of the company's Shanghai office. He highlights the position of StenaSphere and Stena RoRo as a driver of sustainability and a success factor in Asia.
Stena RoRo builds and refits vessels that are chartered out to customers all over the world. The company has special expertise in customizing vessels for specific purposes. One example is the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Global Mercy, which was built at a shipyard in Tianjin in northern China and delivered this past spring. Stena RoRo is also helping to drive the move towards more sustainable shipping – something that is becoming increasingly important in Asia and which, according to John, will create future opportunities for Stena RoRo in China.
“Our development of new ship types is increasingly about environmental adaptation, and we are working hard with suppliers and shipyards, in China and elsewhere, to find solutions to match future environmental requirements,” says John. “Here, sustainability is much more in demand now than in the past, from both shipowners and banks. A clear example is green finance, which has thus far been mainly seen in the US and Europe. It’s now a matter of interest and importance for the Chinese banks as well.”
OPENING DOORS FOR OTHER STENA COMPANIES
John works globally in buying and selling, and chartering and leasing vessels. The job also involves negotiating shipbuilding projects at various shipyards in China. Work usually involves considerable travel, mainly in Asia. But China’s zero tolerance regarding covid currently makes it almost impossible to travel in and out of the country.
“In some respects, I could do much of the same work from Gothenburg, but being on the ground in China is a huge benefit and enables business that would otherwise be more difficult or impossible. Physical presence is also important for long-term business development, perhaps especially in a country like China where GuanXi*(밑溝) is in many cases absolutely crucial closing a deal.”
John Kollander and the Shanghai office frequently represent other business areas within the Stena Group: Stena Finans, Stena Bulk and Stena Fastigheter, for example.
“We seize opportunities, serve as on-site representatives when needed and are door openers at an early stage. Thanks to Stacy Tao, our office administrator manager, we also have good access to the Swedish Chamber of Commerce here in Shanghai, which is good in many ways.”
* GuanXi is a difficult-to-translate word with a meaning similar to our words for relation-ships and connections.
METHANOL AND BATTERIES NEXT STEP
An important objective for Stena RoRo just now is to increase the number of orders for the E-Flexer vessels in the RoPax class. So far, twelve vessels have been ordered, half of which have now been completed and delivered from the Weihai shipyard in Shandong province. The latest vessels ordered will be able to run on LNG (natural gas), biogas and other, not yet commercially available, new fuels. The vessels will also be equipped with a large battery-hybrid package for propulsion and maneuvering in port.
“We’re now looking at building RoPax E-flexer vessels for methanol propulsion in combination with batteries. That will be the next big challenge,” says John.
To date, E-Flexer vessels have been built for one North American customer and two European, as well as for Stena Line. But there is interest from other quarters, according to John, mentioning that talks on E-Flexer vessels are also being held with Asian shipowners as well. More to follow.
The increasing business importance of sustainability is one of the reasons why John is very positive about Stena RoRo’s continued opportunities in China.
“Our joint venture with Proman (the world’s second-largest methanol producer) to develop alternative fuels for shipping can also create opportunities for us to scale up in China.”
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