Safe Bulkers keeping eye on the prize with ambitious fleet renewal, eco-upgrades

Monaco-based dry bulk shipping company Safe Bulkers is set to welcome eight eco-newbuilds in the upcoming two years pushing its fleet with improved energy efficiency to 23 ships.

Illustration/Source: GOGL

The company’s fleet currently consists of 44 vessels, with 12 of them being eco-ships built after 2014, and three of them being IMO GHG Phase 3 – NOx Tier III ships built from 2022 onwards. The new ships scheduled for delivery include four newbuilds in 2023, three newbuilds in 2024, and one newbuild in 2025.

All of these new ships will comply with the IMO GHG Phase 3 – NOx Tier III regulation, further improving the fleet’s energy efficiency.

Back in 2020, the company decided to gradually renew its fleet with modern designs compliant with the new environmental regulations. Since then, Safe Bulkers has been on an ordering spree and offloading older, less-efficient tonnage.

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By early 2025, Safe Bulkers’ fleet is expected to include 23 vessels with improved energy efficiency as Safe Bulkers moves to greener operations in order to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving regulatory environment.

The bulker owner said it was resuming its vessel environmental upgrade program for the existing ships, which will involve the application of low-friction paints and the installation of energy-saving devices.

The company has scheduled to upgrade 20 existing vessels by the end of 2023. The effort builds on last year’s upgrades on five vessels, including the MVs Efrossini, Pedhoulas Rose, Venus Horizon, Sophia, and Pelopidas. The company also partially completed environmental upgrades on the MV Maria.

The budget for environmental upgrades in 2023 is approximately $6.9 million.

The bulker owner has been a strong supporter of scrubber technology as a pathway for becoming compliant with the IMO 2020 Sulphur cap.

The company has installed scrubbers on 19 vessels and has agreed to four additional scrubber installations on the remaining four of its Capesize class vessels. Three are expected to be installed within 2023 and the fourth in 2024, ahead of the expected establishment of sulfur oxides (SOX) emissions controlled area (ECA) in the Mediterranean Sea.

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The fleet renewal update was shared in the company’s business report for Q4 and the full year 2022, with Safe Bulkers reporting a net income of $34.8 million for Q4 and $172.5 million for 2022.

“Revenues and EBITDA, although still strong, declined from the 3rd quarter and year ago 4th quarter levels. Our balance sheet is strong, with significant cash and revolver capacity,” Dr. Loukas Barmparis, President of the Safe Bulkers, said.

“Our net debt per vessel reflects the conservative nature of our capital structure. We are focused on renewing our fleet through our extensive orderbook, while reducing the footprint of our existing vessels implementing a program of environmental upgrades.”