This was a substantial improvement from a loss of USD 151.4 million posted in the corresponding period a year earlier and a loss of USD 38 million seen in the third quarter of 2018, as explained by NAT.
For the full year 2018, net loss was reduced to USD 95.3 million from USD 205 million reported in 2017.
Additionally, net operating earnings stood at USD 5.4 million in Q4 2018, compared to a net operating loss of USD 143.6 million posted in Q4 2017 and a loss of USD 15.4 million recorded in Q3 2018.
Time charter equivalent (TCE) for NAT’s vessels was USD 20,000 per day per ship during the fourth quarter, compared to USD 12,000 in the previous quarter.
Last week, NAT concluded a USD 306 million refinancing of the company with CSG Investments, funded by the US Beal Bank, retiring the old revolving credit facility (RTF) in full.
“This refinancing strengthens the position of NAT going forward,” the company said, adding that the new loan allows NAT for greater financial flexibility.
Specifically, the company’s existing RCF syndicated by three banks was nearing its final year before maturity and would be classified as short term within this year. During the last 18 months, NAT reduced its debt under the RCF with about USD 150 million and now it has taken out the remaining portion through the new financing.
With this new US based debt facility, together with the three 2018 newbuildings financed by a leasing arrangement with Ocean Yield, all long term financing is now in place for NAT, the company explained.
As the world economy is enjoying its strongest upswing since 2010, the crude oil tanker segment is also stronger. At the end of Q4 2018, the world Suezmax fleet counted 495 vessels. A total of 28 units were delivered, with 26 vessels expected in 2019 and 16 in 2020.
However, in the short-term, the supply of tanker tonnage is inelastic and short-term tanker rates may be volatile, according to NAT. Despite this volatility, NAT stressed that its strategy remains steadfast.
Speaking of its strategy focused on expanding and maintaining a homogenous fleet, NAT said that employment of its ships with big oil companies is a priority.
NAT’s fleet comprises 23 Suezmax tankers with an aggregate cargo capacity of 23 million barrels of crude oil and an average age of 10.8 years.
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