Safe Bulkers Delays 5 Scrubber Installations amid Coronavirus Impact

Monaco-based dry bulk shipping company Safe Bulkers has pushed the installation of scrubbers on five of its vessels for the second quarter of the year amid shipyard closures and delays in China caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Namely, shipyards in China, many of which would otherwise be busy with IMO 2020 scrubber retrofitting, have remained closed and declared force majeure in many cases as workers are advised to stay home to curb the outbreak.

An estimated 150 vessels are currently under retrofit at Chinese yards, according to Clarksons.

Until now, Safe Bulkers has completed scrubber retrofits on 15 out of 20 vessels in total. Returns on investment were already visible in 2019 as fuel prices started to jump ahead of the entrance into force of the IMO 2020.

Loukas Barmparis, President of the company, said that the company closed 2019 profitably.

“We have refinanced a large portion of our debt increasing our liquidity to over USD 170 million, positioned ahead of uncertainties and opportunities that markets may offer. During the first quarter of 2020 the charter market has shown weakness due to seasonality, intensified by the novel coronavirus outbreak, the full impact of which is not yet known,” he added.

“Our management is closely monitoring the evolving situation, having rescheduled the remaining five scrubber installations for the second quarter of 2020.”

The company booked a net income for the fourth quarter of 2019 of USD 3.6 million, down from USD9.5 million recorded during the same period in 2018, mainly due to lower net revenues resulting from the weak chartering market and higher vessel expenses driven by drydockings.

The company has over 40 bulkers in its fleet, and one Post-Panamax class newbuilding with a scheduled delivery date in the second quarter of 2020.