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Stone Oil powers fleet, supplies marine industry with renewable diesel in Gulf Coast


Stone Oil's Gretna, Louisiana, facility (Photo: John W. Stone Oil Distributor LLC)

John W. Stone Oil Distributor LLC (Stone Oil), one of the Gulf Coast region’s largest marine-fuel suppliers, has begun distributing renewable diesel to the marine industry, helping the shipping sector meet its decarbonization goals in a significant, impactful way.


Stone Oil currently has 15 locations in the Gulf Coast region to serve its marine customers and expects more soon as the fuel distributor expands to meet growing demand for marine biofuel.


The company has recently signed supply arrangements to secure ratable volumes of renewable diesel from a refinery in the region.


John W. Stone Jr., son of the founder of the family owned and operated Stone Oil, pictured with the MV John W. Stone (Photo: John W. Stone Oil Distributor LLC)

In addition to offering renewable diesel to its maritime customers, Stone Oil has begun to convert its entire fleet of marine vessels and on-road vehicles to the hydrotreated biofuel, including 11 inland tug/tow boats, 47 inland barges and three offshore tanker units, along with several over-the-road Class 8 trucks.


“We expect to have 50 percent of our fleet that spans the Lower Mississippi, Intracoastal Waterways, and Gulf of Mexico converted by the end of July,” said Anthony Odak, the chief operating officer for Stone Oil. “With our distribution network of 15 locations and leveraging our marine fleet, we expect to have the remainder of the vessels on renewable diesel by the end of August.”


Stone Oil’s internal marine-fuel consumption for the past three years has averaged approximately 2.35 million gallons per year. When factoring in the company’s on-road fleet as well as its diesel-fuel consumption at various terminals, the annual diesel use for the company is about 2.7 million gallons.


“Although this is a big story, as we will be the first U.S. inland company to add renewable diesel entirely across our fleet in the region, what’s even more important is that we will be distributing renewable diesel to our customers throughout our network of marine terminals, delivery barges and supply ventures,” Odak said.


Most renewable diesel in the U.S. is consumed on the West Coast in markets buoyed by subsidies, mandates and regulations.


“Our particular region has none of these,” Odak said. “These purely voluntary decarbonization efforts are driven by what we term as internal or external stakeholders. Those stakeholders can vary from corporate- or employee-driven mandates to customer mandates and even financial-institution requests. These help drive the decarbonization model when there is not a subsidy.”


Odak added, “We will continue to offer conventional marine diesel, as there still isn’t enough renewable diesel to cover our geographic requirements in comparison to the interest—particularly at the offering price. Should the end customer want to consider a blend, they will likely ‘blend on board’ as this is a ‘drop-in’ fuel, fully front and backwards compatible with conventional marine diesel.”


Stone Oil’s current renewable diesel supply agreements cover approximately an additional 20 percent over the company’s existing contracted supply of conventional diesel, with additional barrels coming online through the rest of the year.


“In subsequent years we expect to secure greater volumes from additional refineries in the region,” Odak said, adding that it is difficult to compete with arbitrage opportunities on the West Coast, Illinois and, soon, the East Coast for these barrels. “With our distribution network, marketing plan and most importantly our tremendous customer base, however, we feel that as those markets become saturated, we will have developed a nonsubsidized market for the product.” Furthermore, recent announcements by the International Maritime Organization on greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions reductions open up additional opportunities for deep-draft visiting-trade business.


Stone Oil has been committed for nearly a decade to what is now being referred to as “ESG,” or environmental, social and corporate governance.


“Well before this acronym became popular, Stone Oil was committed to a greener environment, a more sustainable company and community, and governance that we hope would make us the standard bearer for the industry,” Odak said. “From repowering our marine fleet to the use of shore power (cold ironing), conversion to LED lighting and, more recently, the testing of B20 biodiesel blends and now our commitment to renewable diesel, Stone Oil has always been an innovator in the marine space. It is our intention to continue to be on the leading edge of the move toward decarbonization. We feel that renewable diesel is the logical next step for us and will easily be the logical first step for much of the maritime industry. With renewable diesel being a fully compatible drop-in fuel at a reasonable price and needing no engine or operational changes, it’s easy to see why this will be the first step.”


According to Odak, Stone Oil has long sought to reduce its carbon footprint while being both fiscally and operationally responsible. “We have found that meeting these goals and being fiscally responsible are not mutually exclusive,” he said. “Rather, the pursuit of these ESG initiatives has had a positive impact on our top and bottom lines. We will continue to work with our customers, suppliers and OEMs to bring other innovative, low-carbon fuels and products to market.”

Family owned and operated since 1946, John W. Stone Oil Distributor LLC is the local leader in dockside, midstreaming and offshore fueling, lubricant blending and distribution along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to Venice, Louisiana, the Intracoastal Waterway system and into the Gulf of Mexico.


Stone Oil has more than 3 million barrels of fuel-storage capacity, 11 inland vessels and 47 barges to service tugboats, push boats, line boats and harbor tugs as well larger vessels including international ships, work barges and drill ships in need of offshore delivery. The company’s strong relationships with major refiners allow for competitive pricing and a consistent supply of fuel.

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