IMSK PERFORMANCE 2015 – SUMMARY OF THE YEAR
The I.M. Skaugen Group (IMSK) had a negative result for 2015 of USD4.9 mill, compared to a negative USD27.1 mill for 2014.
The year was another challenging year to achieve what we have set out as goals and thus tried to accomplish. We are pleased about progress made in many areas and the hard work to accomplish this, but the negative results and cash flow due to the market conditions and trading of the ships is a disappointment.
Utilization of the Norgas fleet improved in 2H15 and as a result the underlying earnings per vessel increased with 40% in 3Q15 compared to 2Q15, and in 4Q15 the earnings increased by another 23% compared to 3Q15. From a low point in April the earnings at year doubled (fig 1). The average earnings of the fleet is right now back at or above the 10-year historical average. We have further managed to improve the forward contract coverage for our fleet in 2H15.
This improved performance in 2H15 is supported by an overall improvement in the market conditions. We experience growth in the Atlantic market for seaborne transportation of LPG and petrochemicals and we see that Far East Asia is increasingly short on products that more often needs to be covered by long haul transport. At the same time excess supply is brought on stream in the US (LPG, petrochemical gas and ethane) and also from Iran following the lifting of sanctions in January 2016. This drives a fundamental increase in ton-miles and a gradual improvement in the overall utilization of the semi-ref/ethylene capable fleet (fig 2.).
The lower oil price should further support our LPG and petrochemical gas business. Lower product prices stimulate end user demand, as plastic prices are reduced consumption increases. LPG is being more and more used as feedstock in the petrochemical industry and for transportation and power generation. The lower oil price and the high growth in ethane and LPG supply from the shale revolution in the US will further boost the demand for shipping of petrochemicals as well as for LPG and ethane. There are also other pockets of excess petrochemical gas emerging from a revival of naphtha based crackers in Europe who has seen remarkable margin improvements along with the drop in the oil price. The naphtha based production creates many by-products such as butadiene which in turn generate additional trading opportunities.
In 2015 we successfully performed several LNG voyages in Asia and this continued into 2016. We loaded LNG from a large export terminal in Asia and delivered the LNG to a smaller re-distribution hub. This LNG hub services the regional small scale LNG client base. The main use for the LNG is the fast growing transport market either in the form of LNG or converted into CNG (compressed natural gas). This contract confirms the versatility and flexibility our Multigas carriers have in terms of loading LNG from any source of LNG. It also re-confirms the USD premium our vessels can achieve when performing LNG trade compared to the petrochemical market. These premiums are achievable in the Small Scale LNG niche as we are able to make use our unique know-how built up over many years, Multigas technology and innovative maritime solutions.
We believe that we are seeing the time for Small Scale LNG (SSLNG) developing as we have envisioned for many years; bringing LNG to power generation and replace diesel or naphtha. Lower oil and derivative prices are positive for demand – leading to converging energy prices supporting regional and short haul trade. Lower oil prices have also enabled many countries to reduce and remove subsidies on diesel, supporting the competitive position of gas. Supply of LNG is further set to exceed demand, increasing the need to develop new markets for LNG («stranded customers» without access to pipeline gas) through fast-track and flexible supply solutions. Finally, we should also see increased push for more environmental friendly solutions (LNG vs Diesel/HFO) supporting development of Small Scale LNG solutions.
Since mid-2010 our shore based teams and organization have been centralized, simplified and aligned with the reduction business activities from three into the one operation of a Norgas fleet of 15 vessels. This resulted in some one-off costs in the 1H of the year, but with reduction in headcount and subsequent reduced overhead cost going forward. Since this initiative was taken we have seen a continued sharp downwards trend in administration costs and the trend is expected to continue in 2016. Similarly, we are working harder to reduce vessel operating costs, and have experienced a positive trend throughout the year and into 2016. This trend has been supported by a lower USD/EUR exchange rate as well as positive impacts of lower oil prices on consumables.
A successful sale of the SPT related activities in July 2015 enhanced the Group’s balance sheet and working capital position – an initiative taken to enable the Company to better execute on its LNG strategy. As an integral part of the SPT transaction, IMSK was granted two purchase options for two of its leased Multigas vessels in 2015; one for the vessel Bahrain Vision, and one for the vessel Norgas Unikum. In February 2015 we completed a refinancing, where maturity of IMSK12 and a cross currency swap was deferred to June 2016. The intention with the transaction was to “buy time” for the company to be able to execute its LNG strategy.
SMALL SCALE LNG – regional redistribution of LNG and mainly for the power sector.
IMSK vision is to become the leading, go-to specialist for Small Scale LNG (SSLNG) logistics solutions within 5 years and to employ all of the groups 6 Multigas carriers on LNG contracts within 2018. The value of LNG contracts based on comparable rates achieved for Small Scale LNG vessels indicate that there is much to gain commercially vs trading the 6 vessels in the traditional LPG/petrochemical market with regards to both the level of earnings and the duration of the contracts. With our fleet of six smaller LNG carriers, we can provide a LNG logistics solution with a very short lead time. In addition to transporting the LNG, our vessels can be used to provide a stop-gap solution for LNG storage and re-gas while a more permanent infrastructure is developed. Our small scale concept can provide cost savings within 3-12 months’ lead time as compared to the customer waiting at least another 3-4 years in order to build a vessel and a permanent land based re-gas facility.
From the historical position where LNG was not readily available and priced based on oil indexation, we currently have an abundance of LNG supply (fig3.). Pricing is increasingly based on the supply and demand of LNG. The LNG infrastructure is expanding, not only with more production units coming on stream but also new import terminals. We also note the trend that existing conventional LNG import terminals are commissioned for re-export of LNG. However, no matter which source of LNG, our Multigas vessels are designed for maximum flexibility and will be able to load at most types of LNG sources.
Looking at the potential markets for our small-scale LNG concept, islands in South East Asia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean are all within economical distance from a LNG source for our Multigas vessels. The same is true for most coastal locations in the developing economies in Asia, Africa and The Americas. We see the strongest interest for our concept from the growing economies in Asia where energy is needed “yesterday” to support growth of the local economies. We also note an increasing interest from the regional markets which in the future will benefit from low cost US based LNG. Smaller power plants will provide the base load for these supply chains and thereafter will the local transport and industrial markets be developed from the existing LNG infrastructure long term.
The lower oil price has also allowed many Governments to remove fuel subsidies and make the local energy markets more transparent and more competitive. This will open up for many smaller users, like island based power plants, to switch their energy source from diesel to gas, supplied in the form of LNG – and make significant savings in the process, as well as the environmental benefits (fig 4).
PETROCHEMICAL GASES AND LPG
Norgas Carriers is directly involved in the 8-17k cbm part or segment of the semi-ref / ethylene market. These are the vessels that primarily cover long-haul transportation of petrochemicals and short/medium haul transportation of LPG.
In the period 2011 to 2013 we witnessed a decline in ton-miles for long haul petrochemical gases and an increase in ton miles for Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The additional LPG volumes have not been enough to cover for the shortfall or decline in the long haul petrochemical gas trade (since these LPG cargoes were mostly carried on the larger Handy size vessels). We therefore experienced a sharp reduction in the overall fleet utilization in this period. The decline is driven by lack of supply of petrochemical gases, especially ethylene and mainly out of the Gulf region or Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and Iran (decline from 1,5 to 0,5 mill tons per annum of exports – fig 4). The lower supply of products from GCC/Iran region was often replaced by short haul seaborne volumes from Japan and Korea up to 2013 and into Far East Asia incl of China.
From 2013/14 there has been a gradual, but slow recovery in long haul seaborne petrochemical trade driven by increased propylene volumes. This combined with strong growth in LPG trade. In the same period the volumes available from Japan and Korea for short haul transportation has been reduced and we have seen a general lack of petrochemical product available for seaborne transportation. This recovery has however not been enough to lead to an increase in freight rates for our sized vessels before 2H15.
Going into 2016 we now see additional surplus of lower cost supply of petrochemical gas, and this is primarily expected to come from both Iran and the US (ethane based production). Iran accounted for approximately 30% of long haul ethylene exports pre – sanctions introduced in 2012. In January 2016, sanctions against Iran was finally lifted. Iran is not yet an active participant in the export of ethylene, but we do expect the country to resume its position as the largest exporter country in the world.
At the same time as supply is set to grow in the US and Iran, we see a continued further reduction in supply and exports from both South Korea and Japan, as well as development of costal non-integrated downstream facilities in China. Far East Asia and South East Asia is thus expected to be increasingly short of ethylene. The lack of supply will need to travel longer haul to fill the demand deficit in Far East Asia. Some of the volumes from Iran and US will probably also find its way to Europe. The additional supply of LPG and Ethane from US will also play a significant role in the recovery for our markets. These products are supply driven and not demand driven and lower prices will stimulate demand.
There have been no major changes to the current order book for semi-ref vessels during 4Q15. The order book for vessels in the 8-17K cbm set to grow by 12% (fig 6). At the same time about 13% of this part of the fleet are more than 25 years and will thus be exiting the competitive fleet in the same period which means there is virtually no growth in this part of the fleet. The larger than 17k cbm vessels on order (26 vessels) are all expected to be absorbed into the growing LPG (and possibly also ethane) trade on the back of increased US and Iranian exports and specially when new US based export terminal capacity will come on-line in 2016.
Where traditionally ethylene vessels were trading ethylene, today, more ethylene vessels have been trading in other gases. The key product that is the driver for this development is LPG, which has seen significant growth in the last few years. In 2013, 11% of the 8-17k cbm ethylene fleet was trading LPG and in 2015, the share of LPG volume has grown to nearly 25%.
The current order book for similar sized vessels for small scale LNG and liquefied gas transportation is virtually zero. For smaller LNG vessels we can note a global order book of only five smaller sized LNG vessels where three are targeted for marine bunkering operations and one vessels is tied up in a long term charter contract. Also, the remainder of the current sailing fleet of small scale LNG vessels is currently tied up in longer charter agreements. This gives the Company a continued and unique position to provide suitable LNG tonnage for our clients in the near to medium term.
We did not acquire or order any ships during the year and as such have no capex commitments, apart from the planned maintenance of our fleet. We did however acquire purchase options on two small scale LNG carriers. Due to the fact that we managed all of our restructuring efforts in 2015, the equity ratio has remained stable at just above 25% during the year and ended at 25.1% (2014: 25.4 %). Our target is to have an equity ratio of at least 30 %. Book equity per share was USD 1.44 (NOK 12.7) by year end.
The Company is engaged in disputes with MAN group in Augsburg, Germany regarding purchase of 12 marine diesel engines. We believe that the MAN company has fraudulently misrepresented the fuel consumption on many of these engines for us and for many other clients and that these engines consume more fuel than promised and agreed when we agreed to acquire these. MAN has admitted to manipulating the FAT tests (and thus the outright fraud) when it comes to 3 of our engines. We have received documents from MAN that shows that these manipulations have been performed on a regular basis for more than 10 years and allegedly was discontinued only in 2011 and evidently affecting many clients and thus many engines. MAN was awarded and accepted a fine in Augsburg local court for the manipulations in march 2013. MAN refuses to compensate our Company for our losses despite of the admitted fraud. MAN also refuses to disclose any material information re the fraud linked to our engines. We thus have had to pursue these claims by litigation.
The Company is currently assessing alternatives for a shorter term deferment of the maturity in June 2016 of our debt obligations, a postponement which would allow us to benefit from the encouraging results of the groups commercial initiatives in both the LNG and the LPG/petrochemical gas segments. The potential longer-term LNG contracts we are pursuing will allow us to visualize the inherent value of our LNG R&D, knowhow and expertise built up over time and the value of our LNG capable vessels we own and/or control. The financial markets are challenging and debt financing is hard to attract for a company of our structure. This is a particular challenge for our company going forward and one the Company is putting a lot of efforts into.
We remain cautiously positive and expect a gradual recovery of the trading opportunities in the longer haul petrochemical gas markets. The recovery that we have seen in 2H15 is expected to continue into 2016/17. We see these quite encouraging signs for 1Q16 vs 1H15 and also vs 2H15. The prevailing situation with lower oil and energy prices should support the growth in demand for the liquefied gasses we transport as well as fuel a faster development of the innovative small-scale LNG business. The continuing growth in global LPG trade will provide complementary trade for our fleet but also ensure a higher utilization of the global gas carrier fleet within our market segment.
LNG will be available at competitive prices and molecule owners (LNG producers) are hard pressed to try to develop new markets for LNG with new clients and new distribution channels and sooner rather than later. During 2015 great efforts and resources have been put to ensure IMSK’s LNG “proof of concept”, but we are still not there yet. The company is currently developing 4 specific LNG projects to supply power plants with LNG and on the back of these projects we could deploy our fleet of LNG capable vessels in in 2016/2017. Our focus has been projects or countries with a required early start-up within 2016/17, and all such projects could enable the company to utilize the unique Small Scale LNG competence and knowhow developed over the past 10 years.
Oslo, 23rd February 2016
I.M. Skaugen SE
Board of Directors
I.M. Skaugen SE
If you have any questions, please contact:
Bente Flø, Chief Financial Officer, on telephone +47 23 12 03 00 /+47 91 64 56 08
or by e-mail: email@example.com.
This press release is also available on the Internet at our website: www.skaugen.com.
I.M. Skaugen SE is a Norway based Marine Transportation Service Company, with a focus on Innovative Maritime Solutions. Our core business activity is to provide logistics solutions for seaborne regional distribution of liquefied gasses such as LNG, petrochemical gases, ethane as well as LPG.
The Skaugen Group of companies currently operates a fleet of 15 advanced gas carriers. In this fleet we have 6 innovative and unique vessels with the capacity to transport LNG in addition to petrochemical gases and LPG. We recruit, train and employ our own team of seafarers.
IMS employs approximately 500 team members globally and with nearly 30 nationalities represented. We manage and operate our activities and service our clients from our offices in Singapore, Oslo and Houston.