Euronav Says Tanker Rate Uplift Continues to Have Momentum
Euronav NV reported its non-audited financial results today for the first quarter ended 31 March 2022.
Hugo De Stoop, CEO of Euronav said: “The conflict in Ukraine has driven considerable dislocation in tanker market freight patterns as sanctions and so-called self-sanctioning by market participants has driven ton-mile growth. The uplift to freight rates continues to have momentum as oil supplies have increased driven by higher prices, OPEC+ production rising and strategic reserve releases. Medium term industry fundamentals remain constructive with orderbook ratios at a 24 year low and no new VLCC orders for 9 months. These are being augmented with factors such as US crude exports hitting 4 year highs and evidence that surplus tonnage in key markets like the Middle East is reducing. Euronav has been very active in positioning itself for the next stage of the cycle with a programme of fleet rejuvenation, a detailed outline of our decarbonisation pathway, and of course via further sector consolidation since quarter end with our proposed combination with Frontline. We expect to make progress on all fronts during the rest of 2022.”
* In order to improve the relevancy of the accounting information of the income statement, the Company reclassified certain cost elements without impact on profit (loss) for the period. These changes have been adopted in 2021 to improve comparability within the
sector. They have been applied retrospectively and comparative information has been revised.
For the first quarter of 2022, the Company realized a net loss of USD 43.4 million or USD (0.22) per share (first quarter 2021: a net loss of 71 USD million or USD (0.35) per share). Proportionate EBITDA (a non-IFRS measure) for the same period was USD 42.9 million
(first quarter 2021: USD 33.1 million)
The average daily time charter equivalent rates (TCE, a non IFRS-measure) can be summarized as follows:
EURONAV TANKER FLEET
In January, Euronav NV announced that upon the redelivery of 4 VLCCs, which occurs at the maturity of a five-year sale and leaseback agreement, the Company will book a USD 18 million capital gain on disposal of assets. The four VLCCs are: the Nautilus (2006 – 307,284 dwt), Navarin (2007 – 307,284 dwt), Neptun (2007 – 307,284 dwt) and the Nucleus (2007 – 307,284 dwt). As the first ship was redelivered on 15 December 2021, USD 4.5 million was booked in the fourth quarter of 2021, whereas the remaining USD
13.5 million was booked in the first quarter of 2022.
In April Euronav purchased two eco-vessels, the Chelsea (2020 – 299,995 dwt) and the Ghillie (2019 – 297,750 dwt), for USD 179 million in total. They are sisters of our D-class VLCC vessels Delos, (2021 – 300,200 dwt), Diodorus (2021 – 300,200 dwt), Doris (2021
– 300,200 dwt) and Dickens (2021 – 299,550 dwt). These vessels were all built in Korea at DSME, are fitted with scrubbers and are the latest generation of eco-type VLCC.
In parallel to this transaction, Euronav sold four older S-class VLCCs for an en-bloc price of USD 198 million. A capital gain of USD 1.2 million will be recorded on the sale of these ships. The four vessels are the Sandra (2011 – 323, 527 dwt), Sara (2011 – 323,183 dwt), Simone (2012 – 315,988 dwt) and the Sonia (2012 – 314,000 dwt). All four vessels are non-eco VLCCs with higher consumptions than modern versions of such tankers.
After the end of Q1 Euronav agreed to sell the Suezmax Bari (2005 – 159,186 dwt). The Suezmax was held in our 50/50 joint venture with Ridgebury Tankers and clients of Tufton Oceanic. 50% of the capital gain of USD 6.5 million (which equals USD 3.25 million) is attributable to Euronav shareholders.
This active approach has significantly reduced the average age of our tanker fleet. On 1 January 2021 the average age of our VLCC and Suezmax fleet was 9 years old. On 1 January 2022 this had decreased to 8.3 years. This is the result of our active fleet rejuvenation management that consists of replacing older tonnage with younger vintages and also adding newbuildings to our fleet without adding to worldwide tanker capacity.
Update – Newbuilding delivery schedule
In January, two newbuilding Suezmaxes, Cedar and Cypress, joined our fleet. Cedar was delivered on the 7th of January and Cypress on the 20th of January. Both were constructed at Daehan shipbuilding (DHSC) in South Korea. Six more vessels are currently under construction, of which three VLCCs that are scheduled for delivery in the first and second quarter of 2023 and three Suezmaxes, of which one scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2023, and two in the first quarter of 2024.
Outstanding capital expenditure for the six vessels at the end of Q1 2022 was USD 363.2 million.
On our existing fleet, we continue to take advantage of the current challenging freight rate background to accelerate a number of scheduled dry dockings during 2022, with 16 dry dockings scheduled (11 VLCCs and 5 Suezmaxes) and 2 Suezmaxes completed already.
Distribution to shareholders
Following the decision of the shareholders meeting of November 2021 to make the issue premium reserve account available for distribution, the fixed distribution of USD 3 cents related to Q4 2021 and for Q1 2022 will be paid via a repayment from that issue premium reserve. This distribution approach will be optimal for shareholders as there will be zero withholding tax (WHT) associated with such a payment. Shareholders will therefore receive USD 6 cents per share subject to approval by the shareholders at the annual general meeting on May 19.
FINANCING AND ACCOUNTING AT EURONAV
Euronav continues to maintain a strong financial base and excellent relationships with its capital providers: commercial banks, equity and debt investors. At the end of March 2022, the Company had liquidity of USD 614 million, comprised of USD 169.6 million cash and USD 444.4 million undrawn committed credit facilities.
Euronav executes a 100% hedging programme to manage volatility of the Company’s fuel stock. This program continues to contribute positively to the company. The paper position which is booked in the financial result of this quarter for a total amount USD -16.3 million is more than compensated by the realised gains on consumption and unrealised gains on the fuel stock for a total amount of USD 20.2 million.
PROPOSED MERGER WITH FRONTLINE
On April 7th, Euronav announced that it had signed a term sheet with Frontline to combine businesses. We believe it is the most value creating strategy available, through maximizing service levels and realizing significant synergies, in terms of business and sustainability.
The combined business would provide a platform that would extend Euronav’s leading position in sustainable shipping and would allow the combined company to further advance Euronav’s industry leading sustainability practices.
On a practical level, the global economy will still require crude oil for many years to come as the global energy transition advances. The proposed combination with Frontline will facilitate the emergence of a sustainable custodian in this process. The combination would create a global independent oil tanker operator with leading operational break-even levels for the combined fleet, improved overall utilization and cost synergies, unparalleled leadership and expertise in the shipping industry, and the ability to attract and retain future world-class talent.
The enlarged fleet would enable the combined group to provide better service to customers on a global basis and maximize value creation throughout the tanker market cycle. We are convinced that the plan we will present offers the best value, in the short and longer term, to our shareholders and we will update the markets after our AGM.
EURONAV AGM MAY 19 2022
Euronav encourages all shareholders to exercise their right to vote at the company’s annual general meeting to be held next week in Antwerp. The resolutions include the (re-) election of three Euronav directors which the Supervisory and Management Boards recommend to vote in favour for. Three non-independent directors were proposed by CMB to be voted onto the Supervisory board. Euronav strongly recommends voting against these resolutions. Our positioning on this matter has been publicised in our recent press releases including recommendations from the proxy advisor ISS. (https://www.euronav.com/en/investors/company-news-reports/press- releases/2022/euronav-opposes-resolutions-proposed-by-cmb)/ (Euronav – Leading proxy advisory firm ISS supports all of Euronav’s Supervisory Board candidates and recommends against CMB’s non-independent nominees)
TANKER MARKET & OUTLOOK
The tanker freight rate spectrum and market activity has been considerably and positively impacted from disruption following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This tragic catalyst has been most impactful on Aframax and Suezmax segments of the market but also indirectly into VLCC markets. Russia has never featured as a VLCC territory as these vessels are physically unable to dock at Russian terminals. Before March Russia exported 4.5 million bpd of crude, mostly to Europe. These barrels will require new markets most likely in the Far East, and Europe will likely continue to increase both Atlantic (US, Brazil, Caribbean, West Africa) barrels and those from the Middle East to replace Russian crude.
Put simply, on average Russian seaborne crude has an average voyage of 2,000 nautical miles; the global average voyage is 5,000 nautical miles and crude transiting from the Atlantic on average needs 9,000 nautical miles to reach its destination. Russian barrels will have to travel further and imports to the EU will cover longer distances. US crude exports have already increased by 1 million bpd based on 4 weeks rolling average since January and the first VLCC cargo for two years between Abu Dhabi and Europe set sail in April.
Headwinds remain however with downgrades to the IEA crude demand 2022 forecasts, still scheduled for growth, but now at 1.9 million bpd, a cut of 250k bpd from March. Recycling
remains elusive and puzzling with 1 VLCC and 6 Suezmax (all 6 in April 2022) exiting the fleet this year despite record steel prices (VLCC scrap value USD 28.3 million and Suezmax scrap value USD 15.3 million at the end of April 2022).
However, Aframax recycling is running at cycle highs of 4% and historically Aframax recycling has been ahead of VLCC and Suezmax demolition rates in terms of timing for the past three cycles. The lack of recycling dovetails with our thesis that the 60-70 VLCC and 35-45 Suezmax engaged in the illicit Iranian crude trade have been dominated by older, privately held tankers that would ordinarily have been recycled by this stage of the cycle but have been incentivised to continue trading illegally instead. The return of Iranian crude to the global oil market remains an important potential catalyst for the large crude tanker market.
The broader and medium-term outlook for the tanker sector however remains constructive. We believe that core fundamentals – orderbook/fleet ratio (25-year lows at 7% VLCC and 6% for Suezmax), aged fleet (27% VLCC aged over 15 years with same ratio at 31% for Suezmax) and incoming emissions regulations (e.g. EEXI in 2023) – provide a supportive base for recovery. The catalyst for recapturing higher and sustained freight rates will come from delivery in oil supply, consumption, and inventory restocking that key commentators such as the IEA are forecasting for later this 2022.
So far in the second quarter of 2022, the Euronav VLCC fleet that operated in the Tankers International Pool has earned about USD 14,000 per day and 43% of the available days have been fixed. Euronav’s Suezmax fleet trading on the spot market has earned about USD 19,700 per day on average with 44% of the available days fixed.
Award recognition for sustainability financing
Euronav has been awarded the ‘Sustainability linked deal of the year 2021’ by Marine Money 2022 for our 80 million sustainability linked credit facility signed with a number of commercial banks. This additional financing agreed last year matches a key proportion of our operational costs (in Euro currency) in the same currency and has performance features embedded within the facility. Euronav will therefore benefit from a lower coupon should we meet or beat emission-based targets, but will also pay a higher coupon should we not meet such targets. The banks included with the financing are KBC, ABN AMRO, Belfius, ING Belgium, Société Générale, BNP Paribas Fortis and Gigarant – infrastructure funding arm of Flemish Government. Euronav now has over 40% of its funding with sustainability linked features.
Sustainability Presentation May 5th
On May 5th 2022 Euronav management gave a comprehensive and detailed outline on how we intend to be net zero by 2050. Details on this presentation are given below.