Euronav Expects Tanker Market Momentum to be Maintained Despite Potential Headwinds
Euronav NV reported its non-audited financial results today for the third quarter ended 30 September 2022.
Hugo De Stoop, CEO of Euronav said: “Over the recent months, improving tanker market fundamentals have, together with geopolitical events, driven sustained and significant freight rate improvements which are broad and well supported in all parts of the large crude tanker market. Firstly, ton miles continue to grow owing to primary and secondary effects from Russian crude transportation dislocation. Secondly, the demand for crude is underpinned by the relative low pricing of oil in the current energy mix. Finally, crude supply growth is reinforced by non-OPEC barrels from the Atlantic basin. We believe that potential headwinds from OPEC production cuts will not translate into factors capable of disrupting the current momentum. The proposed combination with Frontline remains on track and we look forward to delivering a scalable and influential crude tanker platform.”
For the third quarter of 2022, the Company realized a net profit of USD 16.4 million or USD
0.08 per share (third quarter 2021: a net loss of 105.9 USD million or USD (0.53) per share). Proportionate EBITDA (a non-IFRS measure) for the same period was USD 99.6 million (third quarter 2021: USD 9.1 million).
The average daily time charter equivalent rates (TCE, a non IFRS-measure) can be summarized as follows:
EURONAV TANKER FLEET
- Fleet rejuvenation
- Sale of older Suezmax vessel
- On 19 October, Euronav announced the sale of the Cap Phillippe (2006 – 158,920 dwt) generating a capital gain of USD 12.9 million. The vessel was debt free and delivered to the new owners during Q4 2022. This brings the total number of vintage Suezmaxes sold during 2022 to 4.
Sale ULCC Europe
On 17 October, Euronav announced the sale of the ULCC (Ultra Large Crude Carrier) Europe (2002 – 441,561 dwt). The vessel is debt free and has been delivered to her new owners. The sale generated a capital gain of USD 34.7 million. The Europe has a capacity of 3 million barrels of crude. This was one of only four ships of such scale constructed in 2002 and 2003. Euronav has an ongoing interest in all of the three other ULCCs. The company retains ownership of the Oceania (2003 – 441,585 dwt) and 100% ownership since June 2022 of the FSO Asia (2002 – 432,023 dwt) and FSO Africa (2002 – 432,023 dwt), with both ULCC vessels converted into purposed-built FSO vessels under long term contract in Qatar.
Two new Eco-Suezmax contracted at Korean yard
Euronav has entered into an agreement with Daehan Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. for two Suezmax newbuilding contracts, subject to refund guarantee. The vessels will be sister ships to our Cedar (2022 -157,310 dwt) and Cypress (2022 – 157,310 dwt), built at the same yard. Both vessels are scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2024. The vessels are the latest generation of Suezmax Eco-type tankers fitted with Exhaust Gas Scrubber technology and Ballast Water Treatment systems. The vessels have the structural notation to be LNG ready, with both parties working closely to also have the structural notation to be Ammonia and Methanol Ready. This provides the option to switch to other fuels at a later stage.
Update – Newbuilding delivery schedule
Outstanding capital expenditure for the 8 vessels (3 VLCCs and 5 Suezmax)
currently under construction at the end of Q3 2022 was USD 474 million, split as follows: USD 70 million in 2022, USD 267 million in 2023 and USD 137 million in 2024.
Combination with Frontline
On 11 July 2022 we announced that Euronav and Frontline entered into a definitive agreement for a stock-for-stock combination based on an exchange ratio of 1.45 Frontline shares for every Euronav share (the “Combination”), which was unanimously approved by all the members of Frontline’s Board of Directors and by all members of Euronav’s Supervisory Board. The agreement confirmed the principal aspects of the previously announced term sheet that was signed on 7 April 2022. More details are provided in the press release of 11 July 2022. https://www.euronav.com/en/investors/company-news- reports/press-releases/2022/frontline-ltd-considers-voluntary-public-takeover-bid-on- euronav-nv/
Indicative Timetable and Next Steps
The combination between Frontline and Euronav is a complex transaction which requires a number of regulatory approvals from various authorities. Frontline will relocate from Bermuda to Cyprus, a member state of the European Union, prior to the launch of the tender offer. This relocation of domicile requires Frontline shareholder approval and regulatory filings in Bermuda and Cyprus. Both Frontline and Euronav are pleased to announce that good progress has been made on the relocation. An updated F-4 prospectus detailing the aspects of the relocation has been filed with the SEC. Once this F-4 has been declared effective, Frontline shareholders will be invited to a special general meeting where they will be requested to approve the relocation. After such approval, final regulatory steps will be undertaken for the relocation to become effective in Cyprus.
Once the relocation is approved by Frontline shareholders, the launch of the tender offer is expected. After the Belgian and US offering documents related to such tender offer have been filed, approved and/or declared effective, the acceptance period of such tender offer will be opened, which is now expected to take place in Q1 2023. Following the results of the tender offer, a full legal merger may be pursued as soon as possible and proposed to the Frontline and Euronav shareholders’ meetings. In the meantime, the parties will pursue all corporate and other steps necessary for the Combination.
Frontline intends to formally launch the tender offer, in which case it will deposit a file for this purpose with the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), including a draft prospectus. The Euronav Supervisory Board will then examine the draft prospectus and present its detailed opinion in a response memorandum. If Frontline decides not to proceed with the tender offer, it will report about this in accordance with its legal obligations.
Distribution to shareholders
- Ex-dividend date 21/11/2022
- Record date 22/11/2022
- Payment date 29/11/2022
Euronav maintains its stated policy of distributing USD 3 cents per share per quarter.
Following the decision of the shareholders meeting of November 2021 to make the issue premium reserve account available for distribution and in line with the decision of the annual shareholders meeting of 19 May 2022, a distribution of USD 3 cents related to Q3 2022 will be paid via a repayment from that issue premium reserve. This distribution approach will again be optimal for shareholders as Euronav anticipates there will be zero withholding tax (WHT) associated with such a payment. USD 3 cents per share will thus be paid to shareholders on 29th of November.
Further expansion of Tankers International VLCC platform
Tankers International is the world’s largest VLCC operating platform and pool and was co- founded by Euronav in 2000. The pool and its partners are moving from strength to strength. The pool is currently operating 69 vessels, which means an expansion of its size by 21 vessels from 5 different owners year to date. More details on Tankers International can be found at www.tankersinternational.com.
TANKER MARKET & OUTLOOK
The large crude tanker market is well positioned to start a multi-year upcycle based on strong fundamentals and well supported tanker market specific catalysts:
•Orderbooks at 25 years plus lows
•Contracting constrained by high vessel prices & incoming regulations
•Shipbuilding capacity constrained until 2025/26 by LNG carrier/container contracts
•Global fleet age average of large tanker segments is the highest seen in the last 20 years.
This sector positioning is augmented by catalysts such as Russian crude/product dislocation which has a further final leg to run when the EU price cap and embargo is applied from 5 December 2022 (for crude oil). This will displace approximately 1 million bpd seaborne crude from Russia to EU, which will likely be re-routed to Far Eastern/South Asian buyers. The EU will continue to replace these lost barrels via the Middle East and Atlantic sourcing from the VLCC-segment. These displacements are expected to translate into longer ton- mile.
Other data points continue to support a positive tanker market narrative. US crude exports for the week ending 20 October hit a new record high of 5.1m bpd reflecting some SPR cargoes but also underlying strong US production growth.
Incoming regulations have been overlooked in the current geopolitical environment but will begin with the application of the CII (Carbon Intensity Indicator) as part of the EEXI (Energy Efficiency eXisting ship Index) family of maritime regulations starting 1 January 2023. Euronav believes that over time the CII will act as a speed limit on maritime transportation pressurising further tanker capacity.
Several additional factors have yet to be fully priced into the current mix. Fuel switching, using crude as a direct fuel/energy source instead of other sources is driving around 0.7 million bpd of oil demand during this winter (source: JP Morgan). This could continue to grow in both size and duration given crude’s relative cheaper pricing and could be supported by inventory rebuild at some point with global oil inventory (ex strategic petroleum reserves) at 2014 levels (source: EIA).
Asset prices continue to rise for new build and second-hand tankers (5 and 10 year old VLCC & Suezmax values are up 20% in the last six months according to Clarksons) providing owners with optionality. Given the positive set up for the market, it is not surprising that only 1x VLCC and 1x Suezmax exited the fleet (recycled) during Q3 2022. Time charter market opportunities continue to grow as highlighted in our Q2 earnings release.
The global crude tanker market positioning remains very favourable and so far without the support of any positive drivers from China. Crude consumption from China for 2022 year- to-date remains below the run rate of 2019 (source: Bloomberg). Recent product export and import quota releases (three months earlier than usual) would suggest China could be returning to previous levels of crude demand. This would be in addition to the supportive factors listed above.
So far in the fourth quarter of 2022, the Euronav VLCC fleet that operated in the Tankers International Pool earned about USD 47,500 USD per day and 45% of the available days have been fixed. Euronav’s Suezmax fleet trading on the spot market has earned about USD 45,000 USD per day on average with 48% of the available days fixed.