Euronav: Positive Outlook on Medium-Term Tanker Market

Euronav

Euronav NV reported its non-audited financial results for the first semester and second quarter ended 30 June 2021.

Hugo De Stoop, CEO of Euronav said: ”Improving crude demand and the tapering of OPEC+ production cuts have yet to translate into freight rate recovery. Key market signals such as global crude inventory levels, rising asset prices and improved recycling rates suggest solid foundations are being established for cyclical recovery. However, for freight rates to gain traction crude demand and supply dynamics will need to go back to their normal pattern and this timing remains uncertain. Our confidence in the development of the medium-term tanker market remains positive. The additional recent counter-cyclical investments in the latest technology bolstered by our Joint Development Program will, we believe, bring future competitive and sustainable advantage to Euronav.”

Key figures

The number of shares issued on 30 June 2021 is 220,024,713. However, the number of shares excluding the owned shares held by Euronav on 30 June 2021 is 201,677,981.

Regulated information

For the second quarter of 2021, the Company realized a net loss of USD 89.7 million or USD (0.44) per share (second quarter 2020: a net profit of 259.6 USD million or USD 1.21 per share). Proportionate EBITDA (a nonIFRS measure) for the same period was USD 22.6 million (second quarter 2020: USD 362.1 million).

TCE

The average daily time charter equivalent rates (TCE, a non IFRS-measure) can be summarized as follows:

*Euronav owned ships in TI Pool (excluding technical offhire days)
**Including profit share where applicable
*** Including profit share where applicable (excluding technical offhire days)

EURONAV TANKER FLEET

Sales

In June Euronav sold the oldest conventional vessel in its fleet, the Suezmax Filikon (2002 – 149,989 dwt) for a net sale price of USD 16.3 million and recording a capital gain of USD 9.4 million.

Newbuildings – VLCC

In April, Euronav entered into an agreement with the Hyundai Samho yard for two VLCC newbuilding contracts. The vessels will both be delivered during Q1 2023, costing USD 186 million en-bloc, including USD 4.2 million in additions and upgrades to the standard specifications. In June, Euronav has exercised the option to contract a third VLCC with the same specifications. The vessel will be delivered in the second quarter of 2023. The vessels will have the LNG Ready structural notation and Euronav is working together with the shipyard and classification society to include an Ammonia Ready structural notation.

Newbuildings – Suezmax

Euronav has contracted three firm Suezmaxes for a total cost of USD 199.2 million (USD 66.4 million each). The vessels will be delivered in the third quarter of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024. The vessels will feature a gradual and increasing degree of readiness to be converted into dual fuel fully fitted Ammonia ships at a later stage, while retaining the possibility to convert them into dual fuel LNG vessels, if it would make more commercial sense.

Since the end of 2019 Euronav has sold its interests in eight older vessels (threeSuezmaxes and five VLCCs) with an average build date of 2005. The capital invested has been recycled into 12 new large tankers, four of which are modern eco-VLCCs on the water since Q1 2021, next to three modern eco-VLCCs and five modern eco-Suezmaxes still under construction. The vessels are due for delivery in 2022, early 2023 and the first quarter of 2024. All these newbuildings will be delivered in a staggered timing, enabling sustained progress towards the development of ammonia-fitted tankers and the vessels to benefit from the application of the joint development partnership established in July with Hyundai Heavy Industries, Lloyds List, DNV and Euronav.

Updated Delivery schedule

Maintenance

On our existing fleet, we will continue to take advantage of the current challenging freight rate background to accelerate a number of scheduled dry dockings. 27 dry dockings are scheduled to take place in 2021 (17 VLCCs and 10 Suezmaxes) of which 17 have been completed already (14 VLCCs and 3 Suezmaxes).

Cash dividend related to Q2 2021

Euronav will distribute a dividend of USD 3 cents for the second quarter.

Q2-2021 dividend (coupon 26):

Ex dividend 30 August 2021
Record date 31 August 2021
Payment date 8 September 2021

In view of the record date of Tuesday 31 August 2021, shareholders may not reposition shares between the Belgian Register and the U.S. Register during the period from Monday 30 August 2021 at 9.00 a.m. (Belgian time) until Wednesday 8 September at 9.00 a.m. (Belgian time).

FINANCING 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 June 2021, the Company had liquidity of USD 905 million, comprising USD 183 million cash and USD 722 million undrawn committed credit facilities.

COVID-19 UPDATE

Crew changes have remained a challenging operation throughout the second quarter as once again increases in Covid-19 cases sprang up in various regions and nations. There is still a long way to go before we are back to a normal crew change regime. Crews have worked tirelessly at the heart of the world trade, to keep moving crude. Despite difficulties with port access, repatriation, crew changes and many more challenges, there can be no denying that seafarers have gone beyond the call of duty.

If we are to resolve this crisis and ensure that seafarers are treated humanely so that their travel to and from work is properly facilitated, more countries need to recognize the “key worker” status that seafarers deserve. Vaccination scheme for seafarers continue to gain traction in many countries, including Belgium, the US and Singapore, which is a very positive evolution. On the 2nd of June, Belgium started a vaccination campaign for seafarers. In July this vaccination campaign was expanded to seafarers from all nationalities who arrive in a Belgian port. We recognize that many seafarers have endured intense hardship while working to keep trade flowing, and we are grateful to them for their service.

TANKER MARKET & OUTLOOK

A recovery in the tanker cycle has continued to be deferred during the second quarter of 2021. Freight markets remained difficult driven by three key factors. Firstly, long awaited oil production rises has not translated into sustainable increases in global crude exports. This is mainly from OPEC+ tapering production cuts and non-OPEC nations (e.g. Brazil & US shale) responding to higher crude prices. Secondly, persistent localized outbreaks of Covid-19 have continued to curb economic activity, thus slowing the return to the full pre- covid oil-demand. This is particularly the case for Jet Fuel demand. Thirdly, available tonnage, whilst not increasing, has remained stubbornly elevated in particular in key export markets like the Middle East.

The anticipated timeline of Iran’s return to global oil markets has also been pushed back. Crude tanker markets would benefit from a resolution of this situation via (1) a return of additional barrels to the commercial sector and (2) increasing pressure to exit the market on those (largely elderly) VLCC/Suezmax tankers engaged in illicit trading activity in recent years.

However, there are a number of improving elements building foundations for future recovery. Asset prices continued to rise – VLCC and Suezmax newbuild prices rising 9% during Q2 alone, as steel prices hit their highest level since August 2008. Recycling also accelerated during the second quarter – year to date 9 VLCCs have exited the global fleet – more than double of the total amount in 2020. The number of phase out candidates continues to accumulate, with 9% of the VLCC fleet for instance already over 20 years of age. Elevated recycle values based on high steel prices, rising bunker prices for higher consuming older tonnage and upcoming emissions regulations, should incentivize more phasing out going forward.

Further pockets of encouragement come from the level of global onshore oil inventories returning to the five-year pre-Covid-19 average. This is an important building block required for tanker market recovery to generate volume demand for crude imports/exports and therefore tanker employment. During the recent quarter there has been a sustained rise in Middle East cargoes, with June’s tanker cargo count in the region being the highest since December 2020. Toward the end of Q2 this was reducing the surplus tonnage in the region.

Higher demand for crude is assumed as economies re-open from Covid-19 restrictions. Economic agencies (IEA/EIA) both expect global demand to be just 1 million bpd below the pre-Covid-19 peak by the fourth quarter of 2021. Strong oil production growth – historically a key driver for tanker ton-miles – is therefore required to meet this anticipated 3-4 million bpd forecast demand increase during the second half of 2021.

The eventual agreement within the OPEC+ coalition to begin increasing production by 400,000 bpd starting this month, could see an additional 2 million barrels in circulation by the year end – with 1 million bpd in crude exports requiring on average 30 VLCCs to transport them. The target to end the entire 5.8 million bpd production cuts by September 2022, if enacted, is particularly encouraging.

These two interlinked factors, demand for and supply of crude, remain the key variables for tanker markets short term. Visibility on demand remains limited. Rising crude demand has largely been and led by OECD nations (US & Europe) where vaccination rates have been highest. Full emerging market engagement (limited due to lower vaccination rates) and international travel (restrictions on movement) remain limited in demand contribution. Increases in production need to translate more fully into exported barrels. Both factors are required to move into equilibrium with one another before freight rates can gain upward traction and prevent the (already high) oil price to move to levels where it could curtail demand. In addition, the recent ramping up of climate change regulations is a structural feature for the tanker market to manage over the medium term.

SUSTAINABILITY ACTIVITY

Further recognition of our strong governance and sustainability positioning

Euronav was pleased to see our strong corporate governance credentials and sustainability focus recognized again by the Webber Research ESG Scorecard. Euronav has consistently been placed in the top quartile of this ranking since it was initiated in 2016. This year, Euronav was ranked 2nd out of 52 US listed shipping companies. The purpose of the scorecard is to provide a comparable quantitative and qualitative corporate governance ranking across the marine universe, including 20% allocated to action and disclosure on carbon. For more information, please go to the sustainability page on our website for this and previous year’s scorecards.

Appointment of dedicated sustainability manager

In May, Euronav welcomed Kostas Papoutsis to spearhead directly our ESG efforts as the crude tanker markets face a challenging set of immediate and medium sustainability challenges. Kostas joins us from the retail sector and will bring a wealth of experience in sustainability logistics with him from the academic and public sectors.

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