Frontline: Tanker Market Has Exited the Cycle Trough
Oil tanker company Frontline reported a net income of USD 2.2 million for the third quarter of 2018, bouncing back from a loss of USD 22.9 million in the previous quarter and USD 34.3 million loss from last year.
Frontline added that during the quarter net loss attributable to the company adjusted for certain non-cash items was USD 8.4 million.
According to Robert Hvide Macleod, Chief Executive Officer of Frontline Management AS, tanker markets are beginning to rebalance following 18 months of extremely challenging conditions.
“We are optimistic that the market has now exited the cycle trough. Oil inventory draws, fleet growth and production cuts have been against us, but these important factors are now turning in our favor. The most important factor, oil demand, remains strong,” he said.
“We have a large fleet of modern and fuel-efficient vessels, with an average age of 4.1 years and our cash breakeven levels are among the most competitive in the industry. We expects that our positioning for IMO 2020, with our equity investment in FMSI and the planned installation of scrubbers on a number of our vessels, will result in a significant increase in cash generation should our market view unfold.”
According to Frontline, although there is current talk of OPEC cutting back on production, volumes are expected to remain healthy heading in to 2019. Another factor positively impacting tankers are rising U.S. oil export volumes, which are generally long-haul trades, boosting ton-mile demand.
“Sanctions on crude oil imports from Iran, notwithstanding any short-term waivers, have the potential to create significant dislocation in the crude oil markets, leading to periods of strong volatility as the market adapts to new trading patterns. We have already seen imports of Iranian crude oil into India and China decrease and replaced with crude from other markets,” Frontline said.
With regard to supply-demand balance, the net effect is expected to be zero regarding the VLCC fleet growth in 2018.
For the next year, the company expects vessel recycling to continue, despite the stronger spot market, but at a slower pace than seen in 2018.
64 VLCCs are scheduled for delivery in 2019, and the current VLCC order book equals approximately 14.5% of the global VLCC fleet. The tanker company believes that the seemingly large figure is counter-balanced by approximately 20% of the existing global VLCC fleet which is in excess of 15 years of age, making them likely candidates for scrapping.