Stena Line has bought the Ventspils ferry and ro-ro port operations.
The Latvian acquisition is the latest among several moves to support Stena Line’s long-term expansion in the growing Baltic Sea region, the company said.
Stena has been operating between Ventspils and Nynäshamn, Sweden since 2012.
Direct ownership of the Ventspils operations will give Stena Line the initiative in future expansion opportunities, as Latvia continues to grow its importance as a maritime nation with increasing trade volumes.
“The Baltic Sea is a major growth region for Stena Line and our investment in Ventspils shows how committed we are to develop our business with Latvia,” said Niclas Mårtensson, Stena Line CEO.
“With this strategic move, we have secured a long-term position in an essential part in our European network and I am looking forward to working with our customers and partners to continue expanding in the region,” he said.
The growing customer demand on the Latvia and Sweden connection recently resulted in a capacity boost through two ferries – ‘Stena Baltica’ and ‘Stena Scandica’.
These larger ferries added 30% of freight capacity on the route, as well as offering a more modern on board experience for a maximum of 970 pax per vessel.
A similar expansion project was seen on the route between Liepaja, Latvia and Travemünde, Germany in 2021 and 2022, adding 40% freight capacity through the introduction of ‘Stena Livia’ and ‘Stena Flavia’, which also shortened the crossing time substantially.
Stena’s Baltic Sea expansion also included the opening of a new route between Nynäshamn, Sweden and Hanko, Finland in February, 2022. This new route has seen growing freight, as well as private car volumes.
Norvik Port in Nynäshamn, just south of Stockholm, Sweden has recently been expanded, adding capacity and infrastructure, which supports Stena Line’s operations to both Latvia and Finland.
Last year, the company also took delivery of two new E-Flexer ropaxes – ‘Stena Estelle’ and ‘Stena Ebba’ – to serve its growing route between Karlskrona, Sweden and Gdynia, Poland. Karlskrona’s Verkö Port has recently gained added capacity, while Gdynia inaugurated a new terminal in 2022.
The acquisition of the Ventspils ferry and ro-ro port operations is still subject to authority approval for competition compliance.
In addition, Stena Line has ordered two hybrid propulsion freight ferries designed to run on methanol, while adding 80% to the capacity, on its Irish Sea Belfast/Heysham operation.
Construction of the so called NewMax vessels will begin shortly for delivery on the route in 2025.
Each of the two new 147 m long vessels has been designed to maximise freight volumes and will provide 2,800 lane meters of capacity, which is an 80% increase on current ship capacities on the route. They will be equipped to carry 12 passengers and 26 crew.
Stena Line said that it is currently working closely with the methanol supply chain and has secured future volumes of e-methanol to fulfil its ambition of moving to renewable fuels and cutting 30% of its CO2 emissions by 2030.
Stena Line became the first ferry operator to run a ferry on methanol when the ‘Stena Germanica’ was converted in 2015.
Future proofing the new vessels for electrification has been another priority during construction providing in-built technologies that can take advantage of both battery propulsion and shore power, where this is available.
Heysham’s unique tidal systems can be challenging, so each vessel will be fitted with a bespoke marine technology configuration making them more resilient to the prevailing weather conditions.
Three bow thrusters will provide optimum manoeuvrability and reliability and a specially designed engine/propeller configuration will further enhance berthing capability in extreme weather.
Construction work on the two new vessels is about to start in Weihai, China overseen by Stena RoRo and both ships are due to go into service on the route in Autumn 2025, based at Stena Line’s Belfast port.