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DHT Bets on Super-Profits from Scrubber Retrofits as It Considers Host of Financing Options

Bermuda-headquartered crude oil tanker company DHT Holdings has received numerous proposals to finance the scrubber retrofitting project for 12 of its very large crude carriers, the company said.

Image Courtesy: DHT Holdings

The tanker owner and operator has inked a deal with Swedish company Alfa Laval for the supply of scrubbers, and has secured shipyard capacity to install all systems within 2019, making them ready for the IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap.

As disclosed by Svein Moxnes Harfjeld, Co-Chief Executive Officer of DHT Holdings, the decision making on the financing for the project is work in progress.

“We have a whole host of avenues available to us,” he said in a conference call. “We are considering upping existing mortgage step, refinancing or expert credit agencies as the most attractive.”

“In addition, we have investors keen to get in on economics, customers willing to fund through employment as well as commodity traders and fuel suppliers offering various structures. As such, we are confident to finance the majority of the project at attractive terms,” he added.

As disclosed, the total budget for these 12 retrofits is USD 55 million. The retrofitting will keep the ships on an off-hire period of 30 days.

“But keep in mind that 3 of the 12 ships already have natural drydock days next year. So, then the retrofit will be done in connection with that drydock. So, it’s really nine ships. Then each have say 30 days, off-hire,” Trygve Munthe,  Co-Chief Executive Officer, said.

“The ships, once fitted with scrubbers, will potentially create a super-profit through their ability to consume regular heavy fuel oil versus compliant fuels that are expected to be priced at a meaningful payment,” Harfjeld added.

“When we talk about super-profits, the current theoretical spread of USD 250 per ton, you’re looking at USD 12,000 a day on average VLCC, on say a standard Middle East, Far East out. And then, this will of course vary a bit when you’re looking at ships with more economic consumption or whether you do longer out so to speak. But, also, I think there are expectations that this spread could widen. So, of course, that drives even better economics. Therefore, the payback is certainly well short of one year given these economics.”

Harfjeld explained that these ships, once retrofitted, would be kept on the spot market to tap into the potential of the scrubber-fitted vessels once the regulation enters into force. He further noted that following the project announcement the company received a considerable interest from customers wanting to secure tonnage with scrubbers.

“But, we are mindful of one thing in particular, namely, we are not so keen on fixing them out at sort of fixed rate money. So, we want to participate in the potential that this equipment has. And there are opportunities to do that,” he pointed out.

Aside to the 12 VLCCs, the company has two newbuildings fitted with scrubbers. For the rest of the fleet, on the assumption that no scrubber is installed, the company plans to comply with the new regulations by fuelling its tankers with compliant fuels.

Speaking on the global ability to install scrubbers ahead of 2020, Munthe said that he expects the vast majority of tankers to show up without the scrubber.

“Whether it’s going to be 10-90, or 20-80 that percentage, it’s difficult to tell. We just don’t see it possible that we’ll see the majority being fitted over the next 17 months,” he added.

DHT has a fleet of 27 VLCCs, 26 in the water and one under construction scheduled for delivery in Q3 2018, as well as two Aframaxes.

World Maritime News Staff