For the tanker bulls, the eagerly anticipated Q4 results from Antwerp’s Euronav did not disappoint this morning.
The Belgian tanker giant posted a stunning $160.8m net profit for the final quarter of 2019, up by 57,534% from the $279,000 profit it eked out in the same quarter of 2018.
Moreover, Q1 looks like it will deliver sizeable profits with its VLCCs so far this month trading at $89,200 per day and the firm’s suezmaxes pocketing an average of $57,000 a day.
Euronav, the largest crude shipping firm by market capitalisation, timed the bull-run seen in the tanker trades since September well. More than 80% of its fleet were traded on the spot in the last few months, picking up huge six-figure deals.
Hugo De Stoop, CEO of Euronav, said today: “Tanker sector fundamentals improved further during Q4 to drive large tanker markets to their highest level since 2008. Specific catalysts have continued to influence short term freight rates – reflecting the current balance in market dynamics.”
De Stoop, who took over from arch-scrubber critic Paddy Rodgers last year, said that thanks to the tanker orderbook standing at 25-year lows and the limited appetite for newbuilds by both owners and banks at the moment the current cyclical upturn was “sustainable”.
Euronav took a different path to most of its VLCC peers when it came to compliance with the global sulphur cap, avoiding scrubbers and contracting instead early last year for huge quantities of VLSFO at cheap prices, which it then stored on its own ultra large crude carrier.
The company discussed how the IMO 2020 transition had gone today, once again hinting that under new management scrubber installations have not been ruled out entirely.
“The fuel procurement strategy implemented so far has provided Euronav adequate protection against higher fuel prices and a high degree of optionality going forward regarding fuel strategies. This includes the potential to install scrubber technology,” the company stated.
Euronav is anticipating that a further 96 VLCCs from the world’s tanker owners still plan to retrofit scrubbers during 2020 reducing the fleet capacity by 1.9%, providing what it described today as “a further positive driver to already robust fundamentals”.
Among other interesting points shared today by Euronav senior management today, it was revealed that last month saw the company hold its first meeting with a new committee – the ESG and Climate Committee.
Euronav also disclosed that this year it will get a rating from the Climate Disclosure Program (CDP) from which it then intends to develop what it described in a release today as “challenging” emission reduction targets.