SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|¨||REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
|x||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
|¨||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from _________________ to _________________
|¨||SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
Date of event requiring this shell company report _________________
Commission file number: 001-34677
|SCORPIO TANKERS INC.|
|(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)|
|(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)|
|Republic of the Marshall Islands|
|(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)|
|9, Boulevard Charles III Monaco 98000|
|(Address of principal executive offices)|
|Mr. Emanuele Lauro|
|9, Boulevard Charles III Monaco 98000|
|(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile, and address of Company Contact Person)|
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to section 12(b) of the Act.
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common stock, par value $0.01 per share||STNG||New York Stock Exchange|
|7.00% Senior Notes due 2025||SBBA||New York Stock Exchange|
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to section 12(g) of the Act.
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act.
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
As of December 31, 2020 there were 58,093,147 outstanding shares of common stock, par value $0.01 per share.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer x
Accelerated filer ¨
Non-accelerated filer ¨
Emerging growth company ¨
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting
Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
| || ||U.S. GAAP|
|X|| ||International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board|
| || ||Other|
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow:
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides safe harbor protections for forward-looking statements in order to encourage companies to provide prospective information about their business. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, and underlying assumptions and other statements, which are other than statements of historical facts. This document includes assumptions, expectations, projections, intentions and beliefs about future events. These statements are intended as “forward-looking statements.” We desire to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and are including this cautionary statement in connection therewith. This report and any other written or oral statements made by us or on our behalf may include forward-looking statements, which reflect our current views with respect to future events and financial performance, and are not intended to give any assurance as to future results. We caution that assumptions, expectations, projections, intentions and beliefs about future events may and often do vary from actual results and the differences can be material. When used in this document, the words “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “seek,” “plan,” “potential,” “continue,” “contemplate,” “possible,” “target,” “project,” “likely,” “may,” “might,” “would,” “could” and similar expressions, terms, or phrases may identify forward-looking statements.
These forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but rather are based on current expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections about the business and our future financial results and readers should not place undue reliance on them. The forward-looking statements in this report are based upon various assumptions, many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions, including without limitation, management’s examination of historical operating trends, data contained in our records and other data available from third parties. Although we believe that these assumptions were reasonable when made, because these assumptions are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies which are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond our control, we cannot assure you that we will achieve or accomplish these expectations, beliefs or projections.
In addition to important factors and matters discussed elsewhere in this report, and in the documents incorporated by reference herein, important factors that, in our view, could cause our actual results and developments to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include:
•our future operating or financial results;
•the strength of world economies and currencies;
•fluctuations in interest rates and foreign exchange rates;
•the impact of the expected discontinuance of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, after 2021 on interest rates of our credit facilities that reference LIBOR;
•general market conditions, including the market for our vessels, fluctuations in spot and charter rates and vessel values;
•the length and severity of the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including its impact on the demand for seaborne transportation of petroleum products;
•availability of financing and refinancing;
•our business strategy and other plans and objectives for growth and future operations;
•our ability to successfully employ our vessels;
•planned capital expenditures and availability of capital resources to fund capital expenditures;
•planned, pending or recent acquisitions, business strategy and expected capital spending or operating expenses, including drydocking, surveys, upgrades and insurance costs;
•our ability to realize the expected benefits from acquisitions;
•potential liability from pending or future litigation;
•the impact of increasing scrutiny and changing expectations from investors, lenders and other market participants with respect to our Environmental, Social and Governance or ESG policies;
•general domestic and international political conditions;
•potential disruption of shipping routes due to accidents or political events;
•vessel breakdowns and instances of off-hire;
•competition within our industry;
•the supply of and demand for vessels comparable to ours;
•corruption, piracy, militant activities, political instability, terrorism, and ethnic unrest in locations where we may operate;
•delays and cost overruns in construction projects;
•our level of indebtedness;
•our ability to obtain financing and to comply with the restrictive and other covenants in our financing arrangements;
•our need for cash to meet our debt service obligations;
•our levels of operating and maintenance costs, including bunker prices, drydocking and insurance costs;
•our ability to successfully identify, consummate, integrate, and realize the expected benefits from acquisitions, including our 2019 acquisition of the leasehold interests in 19 vessels from Trafigura Maritime Logistics Pte. Ltd., or Trafigura, by way of acquisition of the companies that hold the vessels;
•availability of skilled workers and the related labor costs and related costs;
•the recent implementation of the MARPOL convention, Annex VI Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships which will reduce the maximum amount of sulfur that ships can emit into the air, which was applicable from January 2020;
•the recent implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM) in September 2019;
•compliance with governmental, tax, environmental and safety regulation;
•any non-compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) or other applicable regulations relating to bribery;
•general economic conditions and conditions in the oil and natural gas industry;
•effects of new products and new technology in our industry;
•the failure of counterparties to fully perform their contracts with us;
•our dependence on key personnel;
•adequacy of insurance coverage;
•our ability to obtain indemnities from customers;
•changes in laws, treaties or regulations applicable to us;
•the volatility of the price of our common shares and our other securities;
•other factors that may affect our future results; and
•these factors and other risk factors described in this annual report and other reports that we furnish or file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC.
These factors and the other risk factors described in this report are not necessarily all of the important factors that could cause actual results or developments to differ materially from those expressed in any of our forward-looking statements. Other unknown or unpredictable factors also could harm our results. Consequently, there can be no assurance that actual results or developments anticipated by us will be realized or, even if substantially realized, that they will have the expected consequences to, or effects on, us. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of our future performance, and actual results and future developments may vary materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Given these uncertainties, prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates. We undertake no obligation, and specifically decline any obligation, except as required by law, to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Please see our Risk Factors in "Item 3. Key Information - D. Risk Factors" of this annual report for a more complete discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties.
ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION
Unless the context otherwise requires, when used in this annual report, the terms “Scorpio Tankers,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” and “us” refer to Scorpio Tankers Inc. and its subsidiaries. “Scorpio Tankers Inc.” refers only to Scorpio Tankers Inc. and not its subsidiaries. Unless otherwise indicated, all references to “dollars,” “US dollars” and “$” in this annual report are to the lawful currency of the United States. We use the term deadweight tons, or dwt, expressed in metric tons, each of which is equivalent to 1,000 kilograms, in describing the size of tankers.
As used herein, “SLR2P” refers to the Scorpio LR2 Pool, “SLR1P” refers to the Scorpio LR1 Pool, “SMRP” refers to the Scorpio MR Pool, and “SHTP” refers to the Scorpio Handymax Tanker Pool, which are spot market-oriented tanker pools in which certain of our vessels operate.
A. Selected Financial Data
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk Factors
The following risks relate principally to the industry in which we operate and our business in general. Other risks relate principally to the securities market and ownership of our securities. The occurrence of any of the events described in this section could significantly and negatively affect our business, financial condition, operating results or cash available for the payment of dividends on our common shares and interest on our debt securities, or the trading price of our securities.
The following is a summary of the risk factors which are described in further detail in subsequent sections.
•The tanker industry is cyclical and volatile.
•We are dependent on spot-oriented pools and spot charters.
•An over-supply of tanker capacity may prolong or further depress the current low charter rates.
•Acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels could adversely affect our business.
•Changes in fuel, or bunkers, prices may adversely affect our profits.
•Tanker rates also fluctuate based on seasonal variations in demand.
•A shift in consumer demand from oil towards other energy sources or changes to trade patterns for refined oil products may have a material adverse effect on our business.
•An inability to effectively time investments could negatively impact our results of operations and financial
•Volatility in economic conditions throughout the world could have an adverse impact on our business.
•We are exposed to volatility in the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR.
•If we cannot meet our customers' quality and compliance requirements we may not be able to operate our
•We are required to make significant investments in ballast water management.
•Sulfur regulations to reduce air pollution from ships are likely to cause us to incur significant costs.
•We are subject to complex laws and regulations, including environmental laws and regulations.
•If we fail to comply with international safety regulations, we may be subject to increased liability.
•Developments in safety and environmental requirements relating to the recycling of vessels may result
escalated and unexpected costs.
•We operate tankers worldwide, and as a result, we are exposed to inherent operational and international risks.
•Increased inspection procedures could increase costs and disrupt our business.
•Outbreaks of epidemic and pandemic diseases, including COVID-19, and governmental responses thereto
could adversely affect our business.
•Political instability, terrorist or other attacks, and war or international hostilities can affect the tanker industry, which may adversely affect our business.
•The U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union may have a negative effect on our business.
•We may experience adverse consequences if our vessels call on ports located in countries or territories that
are subject to sanctions or embargoes.
•The smuggling of drugs or other contraband onto our vessels may lead to governmental claims.
•Maritime claimants could arrest or attach our vessels.
•Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency.
•Technological innovation could reduce our charterhire income and the value of our vessels.
•Breakdowns in our information technology, including as a result of cyberattacks, may negatively impact our business.
•Increasing scrutiny and changing expectations from investors, lenders and other market participants with
respect to our Environmental, Social and Governance policies may impose additional costs on us or expose us to additional risks.
•Our business could be affected if labor interruptions are not resolved in a timely manner.
•We may not realize all of the anticipated benefits of our investment scrubbers.
•We cannot assure you that our internal controls over financial reporting will be sufficient.
•We may have difficulty managing our planned growth properly.
•We operate secondhand vessels, which exposes us to increased operating costs.
•An increase in operating costs would decrease earnings and available cash.
•We will be required to make additional capital expenditures should we determine to expand the number of
vessels in our fleet and to maintain all our vessels.
•Declines in charter rates and other market deterioration have caused, and could cause us to incur impairment charges.
•Our stock price has been historically volatile.
•The market values of our vessels may decrease.
•If we are unable to operate our vessels profitably, we may be unsuccessful in competing in the highly
competitive international tanker market.
•If we do not set aside funds and are unable to borrow or raise funds for vessel replacement, at the end of a
vessel’s useful life our revenue will decline.
•Our ability to obtain additional financing may be dependent on the performance of our then existing charters and the creditworthiness of our charterers.
•We cannot guarantee that our Board of Directors will declare dividends.
•United States tax authorities could treat us as a “passive foreign investment company”.
•We may have to pay tax on United States source shipping income.
•We are subject to certain risks with respect to our counterparties on contracts.
•Our insurance may not be adequate to cover our losses.
•Because we obtain some of our insurance through protection and indemnity associations, which result in
significant expenses to us, we may be required to make additional premium payments.
•Penalties can occur for the failure to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
•We are incorporated in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of corporate law.
•Because we are a foreign corporation, it may be difficult to serve process on or enforce a United States
judgment against us.
•The international nature of our operations may make the outcome of any bankruptcy proceedings difficult to predict.
•We rely on our information systems to conduct our business, and failure to protect these systems against security breaches could adversely affect our business.
•There may be conflicts of interest between us and our managers that may not be resolved in our favor.
•Our founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Vice President have affiliations with our administrator and commercial and technical managers which may create conflicts of interest.
•Certain of our officers do not devote all of their time to our business.
•Our commercial and technical managers are each privately held companies.
•Servicing our current or future indebtedness limits funds available for other purposes.
•Our debt and lease financing agreements contain restrictive and financial covenants.
RISKS RELATED TO OUR INDUSTRY
The tanker industry is cyclical and volatile, which may adversely affect our earnings and available cash flow.
The tanker industry is both cyclical and volatile in terms of charter rates and profitability. Periodic adjustments to the supply of and demand for oil tankers cause the industry to be cyclical in nature. We expect continued volatility in market rates for our vessels in the foreseeable future with a consequent effect on our short and medium-term liquidity. A worsening of current global economic conditions may cause tanker charter rates to decline and thereby adversely affect our ability to charter or re-charter our vessels or to sell them on the expiration or termination of their charters, and the rates payable in respect of our vessels currently operating in tanker pools, or any renewal or replacement charters that we enter into, may not be sufficient to allow us to operate our vessels profitably. Fluctuations in charter rates and vessel values result from changes in the supply and demand for tanker capacity and changes in the supply and demand for oil and oil products. The factors affecting the supply and demand for tankers are outside of our control, and the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions are unpredictable.
The factors that influence demand for tanker capacity include:
•supply and demand for energy resources and oil and petroleum products;
•regional availability of refining capacity and inventories compared to geographies of oil production regions;
•national policies regarding strategic oil inventories (including if strategic reserves are set at a lower level in the future as oil decreases in the energy mix);
•global and regional economic and political conditions, including armed conflicts, terrorist activities, embargoes and strikes;
•currency exchange rates;
•the distance over which oil and oil products are to be moved by sea;
•changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns;
•changes in governmental or maritime self-regulatory organizations’ rules and regulations or actions taken by regulatory authorities;
•environmental and other legal and regulatory developments;
•weather and natural disasters;
•developments in international trade, including those relating to the imposition of tariffs;
•competition from alternative sources of energy; and
•international sanctions, embargoes, import and export restrictions, nationalizations and wars.
The factors that influence the supply of tanker capacity include:
•supply and demand for energy resources and oil and petroleum products;
•demand for alternative sources of energy;
•the number of newbuilding orders and deliveries, including slippage in deliveries;
•the number of vessel casualties;
•technological advances in tanker design and capacity;
•the number of shipyards and ability of shipyards to deliver vessels;
•availability of financing for new vessels and shipping activity;
•the degree of scrapping or recycling rate of older vessels, depending, amongst other things, on scrapping or recycling rates and international scrapping or recycling regulations;
•price of steel and vessel equipment;
•the number of conversions of tankers to other uses or conversions of other vessels to tankers;
•the number of product tankers trading crude or "dirty" oil products (such as fuel oil);
•the number of vessels that are out of service, namely those that are laid up, drydocked, awaiting repairs
or otherwise not available for hire;
•changes in government and industry environmental and other regulations that may limit the useful lives of tankers and environmental concerns and regulations;
•product imbalances (affecting the level of trading activity);
•developments in international trade, including refinery additions and closures;
•port or canal congestion; and
•speed of vessel operation.
In addition to the prevailing and anticipated freight rates, factors that affect the rate of newbuilding, scrapping and laying-up include newbuilding prices, secondhand vessel values in relation to scrap prices, costs of bunkers and other operating costs, costs associated with classification society surveys, normal maintenance costs, insurance coverage costs, the efficiency and age profile of the existing tanker fleet in the market, and government and industry regulation of maritime transportation practices, particularly environmental protection laws and regulations. These factors influencing the supply of and demand for shipping capacity are outside of our control, and we may not be able to correctly assess the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions.
We anticipate that the future demand for our tankers will be dependent upon economic growth in the world’s economies, seasonal and regional changes in demand, changes in the capacity of the global tanker fleet and the sources and supply of oil and petroleum products to be transported by sea. Given the number of new tankers currently on order with shipyards, the capacity of the global tanker fleet seems likely to increase and there can be no assurance as to the timing or extent of future economic growth. Adverse economic, political, social or other developments could have a material adverse effect on our business and operating results.
Declines in oil and natural gas prices for an extended period of time, or market expectations of potential decreases in these prices, could negatively affect our future growth in the tanker and offshore sector. Sustained periods of low oil and natural gas prices typically result in reduced exploration and extraction because oil and natural gas companies’ capital expenditure budgets are subject to cash flow from such activities and are therefore sensitive to changes in energy prices. These changes in commodity prices can have a material effect on demand for our services, and periods of low demand can cause excess vessel supply and intensify the competition in the industry, which often results in vessels, particularly older and less technologically-advanced vessels, being idle for long periods of time. We cannot predict the future level of demand for our services or future conditions of the oil and natural gas industry. Any decrease in exploration, development or production expenditures by oil and natural gas companies could reduce our revenues and materially harm our business, results of operations and cash available for distribution.
We are dependent on spot-oriented pools and spot charters and any decrease in spot charter rates in the future may adversely affect our earnings.
As of March 30, 2021, all of our vessels were employed in either the spot market or in spot market-oriented tanker pools such as the SLR2P, SLR1P, SMRP or SHTP, which we refer to collectively as the Scorpio Pools and which are managed by companies that are members of the Scorpio group of companies, or Scorpio, exposing us to fluctuations in spot market charter rates. The spot charter market may fluctuate significantly based upon tanker and oil supply and demand. The successful operation of our vessels in the competitive spot charter market, including within the Scorpio Pools, depends on, among other things, obtaining profitable spot charters and minimizing, to the extent possible, time spent waiting for charters and time spent traveling unladen to pick up cargo. The spot market is very volatile, and, in the past, there have been periods when spot charter rates have declined below the operating cost of vessels. If spot charter rates decline, then we may be unable to operate our vessels trading in the spot market profitably, meet our obligations, including payments on indebtedness, or pay dividends in the future. Furthermore, as charter rates for spot charters are fixed for a single voyage which may last up to several weeks, during periods in which spot charter rates are rising, we will generally experience delays in realizing the benefits from such increases.
Our ability to renew expiring charters or obtain new charters will depend on the prevailing market conditions at the time. If we are not able to obtain new charters in direct continuation with existing charters or upon taking delivery of a newly acquired vessel, or if new charters are entered into at charter rates substantially below the existing charter rates or on terms otherwise less favorable compared to existing charter terms, our revenues and profitability could be adversely affected.
An over-supply of tanker capacity may prolong or further depress the current low charter rates, which may limit our ability to operate our tankers profitably.
The market supply of tankers is affected by a number of factors, such as supply and demand for energy resources, including oil and petroleum products, supply and demand for seaborne transportation of such energy resources, and the current and expected purchase orders for newbuildings. If the capacity of new tankers delivered exceeds the capacity of tankers being scrapped and converted to non-trading tankers, tanker capacity will increase. According to Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd., or Drewry, as of February 28, 2021, the newbuilding order book, which extends to 2023 and beyond, equaled approximately 7.9% of the existing world tanker fleet and the order book may increase further in proportion to the existing fleet. If the supply of tanker capacity increases and if the demand for tanker capacity does not increase correspondingly or declines, charter rates could materially decline. A reduction in charter rates and the value of our vessels may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and available cash.
In addition, product tankers may be "cleaned up" from "dirty/crude" trades and swapped back into the product tanker market which would increase the available product tanker tonnage which may in turn affect the supply and demand balance for product tankers. This could have an adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
Acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels could adversely affect our business.
Acts of piracy have historically affected ocean-going vessels trading in regions of the world such as the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Guinea, the Gulf of Aden and the Sulu Sea. Sea piracy incidents continue to occur, with drybulk vessels and tankers particularly vulnerable to such attacks. If these piracy attacks result in regions in which our vessels are deployed being characterized by insurers as “war risk” zones or Joint War Committee “war and strikes” listed areas, premiums payable for such coverage could increase significantly and such insurance coverage may be more difficult to obtain. In addition, crew and security equipment costs, including costs which may be incurred to the extent we employ onboard security guards, could increase in such circumstances. We may not be adequately insured to cover losses from these incidents, which could have a material adverse effect on us. In addition, detention or hijacking as a result of an act of piracy against our vessels, or increases in cost associated with seeking to avoid such events (including increased bunker costs resulting from vessels being rerouted or travelling at increased speeds as recommended by BMP4), or unavailability of insurance for our vessels, could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations, ability to pay dividends, cash flows and financial condition and may result in loss of revenues, increased costs and decreased cash flows to our customers, which could impair their ability to make payments to us under our charters.
Changes in fuel, or bunkers, prices may adversely affect our profits.
Fuel, or bunkers, is typically the largest expense in our shipping operations for our vessels and changes in the price of fuel may adversely affect our profitability. The price and supply of fuel is unpredictable and fluctuates based on events outside our control, including geopolitical developments, supply and demand for oil and gas, actions by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, and other oil and gas producers, war and unrest in oil producing countries and regions, regional production patterns and environmental concerns.
In addition, since the implementation of the IMO’s sulfur oxide emission limits on January 1, 2020, we have been operating our vessels that have not yet been retrofitted with scrubbers using compliant low sulfur fuels, the price of which has increased as a result of increased demand. Fuel may continue to become much more expensive in the future, which may adversely affect the competitiveness of our business compared to other forms of transportation and reduce our profitability.
Tanker rates also fluctuate based on seasonal variations in demand.
Tanker markets are typically stronger in the winter months as a result of increased oil consumption in the northern hemisphere but weaker in the summer months as a result of lower oil consumption in the northern hemisphere and refinery maintenance that is typically conducted in the summer months. In addition, unpredictable weather patterns during the winter months in the northern hemisphere tend to disrupt vessel routing and scheduling. The oil price volatility resulting from these factors has historically led to increased oil trading activities in the winter months. As a result, revenues generated by our vessels have historically been weaker during the quarters ended June 30 and September 30, and stronger in the quarters ended March 31 and December 31.
A shift in consumer demand from oil towards other energy sources or changes to trade patterns for refined oil products may have a material adverse effect on our business.
A significant portion of our earnings are related to the oil industry. We rely almost exclusively on the cash flows generated from the employment of our vessels that operate in the tanker sector of the shipping industry. Due to our lack of diversification, adverse developments in the tanker shipping industry have a significantly greater impact on our financial condition and results of operations than if we maintained more diverse assets or lines of business. Adverse developments in the tanker business could therefore reduce our ability to meet our payment obligations and our profitability.
“Peak oil” is the year when the maximum rate of extraction of oil is reached. Recent forecasts of “peak oil” range from 2019 to the 2040s, depending on economics and how governments respond to global warming. Irrespective of “peak oil”, the continuing shift in consumer demand from oil towards other energy resources such as wind energy, solar energy, hydrogen energy or nuclear energy, which shift appears to be accelerating as a result of the COVID-19 situation, as well shift in government commitments and support for energy transition programs, may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
Seaborne trading and distribution patterns are primarily influenced by the relative advantage of the various sources of production, locations of consumption, pricing differentials and seasonality. Changes to the trade patterns of refined oil products may have a significant negative or positive impact on the ton-mile and therefore the demand for our product tankers. This could have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
An inability to effectively time investments in and divestments of vessels could prevent the implementation of our business strategy and negatively impact our results of operations and financial condition.
Our strategy is to own and operate a fleet large enough to provide global coverage, but no larger than what the demand for our services can support over a longer period by both contracting newbuildings and through acquisitions and disposals in the second-hand market. Our business is greatly influenced by the timing of investments and/or divestments and contracting of newbuildings. If we are unable able to identify the optimal timing of such investments, divestments or contracting of newbuildings in relation to the shipping value cycle due to capital restraints, this could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
Volatility in economic conditions throughout the world could have an adverse impact on our results of operations and financial condition.
Our business and profitability are affected by the overall level of demand for our vessels, which in turn is affected by trends in global economic conditions. There has historically been a strong link between the development of the world economy and demand for energy, including oil and gas. In the past, declines in global economic activity significantly reduced the level of demand for our vessels. The world economy continues to face a number of challenges and an extended period of deterioration in the outlook for the world economy could reduce the overall demand for oil and gas and for our services. Since the beginning of calendar year 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 has spread throughout the world and resulted in numerous actions by governments and governmental agencies in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus. These measures have resulted in a significant reduction in global economic activity and extreme volatility in the global financial markets which has reduced the global demand for oil and refined petroleum products. While recent actions taken by Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members to increase the production of oil in the near term has resulted in increased tankers rates in the first quarter of 2020, the length of time and impact of these production increases is uncertain. We expect that the impact of the COVID-19 virus and the uncertainty in the supply of oil will continue to cause volatility in the commodity markets. The scale and duration of the impact of these factors remain unknown but could have a material impact on our earnings, cash flow and financial condition for 2021.
If the COVID-19 pandemic continues on a prolonged basis or becomes more severe, and depending on the timing and efficacy of any available vaccines, the rate environment in the crude and product markets may deteriorate further and our operations and cash flows may be negatively impacted. In addition, a prolonged negative rate environment could result in the value of our vessels being impaired which could in turn impair our ability to borrow amounts under our revolving credit facilities or to access to credit and capital markets in the future on favorable terms or at all.
Any such changes could adversely affect our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
We also face risks attendant to changes in interest rates, along with instability in the banking and securities markets around the world, among other factors. Relatedly, certain banks have reduced or ceased lending for oil cargoes, which could have an adverse economic impact on our customers. These risks factors, overall, may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition and may cause the price of our common shares to decline.
In Europe, concerns regarding the possibility of sovereign debt defaults by European Union member countries have in the past disrupted financial markets throughout the world, and may lead to weaker consumer demand in the European Union, or EU, the United States, and other parts of the world. The possibility of sovereign debt defaults by European Union member countries and the possibility of market reforms to float the Chinese renminbi, either of which development could weaken the Euro against the Chinese renminbi, could adversely affect consumer demand in the European Union. Moreover, the revaluation of the renminbi may negatively impact the United States' demand for imported goods, many of which are shipped from China. Future weak economic conditions could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Continued economic slowdown in the Asia Pacific region may exacerbate the effect on us of the recent slowdown in the rest of the world. For example, following the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, China experienced reduced industrial activity with temporary closures of factories and other facilities, labor shortages and restrictions on travel. The International Monetary Fund has warned that continuing geopolitical tensions between the United States and China could derail recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. Although the United States and China signed a trade agreement in early 2020, there is no assurance that the Chinese economy will not experience a significant contraction in the future. As such, our financial condition and results of operations, as well as our future prospects, would likely be impeded by a continuing or worsening economic downturn in any of these countries.
In addition, President Xi Jinping committed his country to achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 at the UN General Assembly despite that carbon emissions are currently a prominent part of China’s economic and industrial structure as it relies heavily on nonrenewable energy sources, generally lacks energy efficiency, and has a rapidly growing energy demand. Depending on how China attempts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, including through the reduction in the use of oil, an overall increase in the use of nonrenewable energy as part of the energy consumption mix and through other means, any
reduction in the demand for oil and oil products and our tanker vessels could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flows and results of operations.
We are exposed to volatility in the London Interbank Offered Rate, which can result in higher than market interest rates and charges against our income.
Interest in most financing agreements in our industry has been based on published rates for LIBOR, which has historically been volatile, with the spread between LIBOR and the prime lending rate widening significantly at times. These conditions are the result of the disruptions in the international credit markets. Because the interest rates borne by our outstanding indebtedness fluctuate with changes in LIBOR, if this volatility were to occur, it would affect the amount of interest payable on our debt, which in turn, could have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flow. Recently, there has been uncertainty relating to the LIBOR calculation process, which may result in the phasing out of LIBOR in the future. Indeed, the banks currently reporting information used to set LIBOR will likely stop such reporting after 2021, when their commitment to reporting information ends. On November 30, 2020, ICE Benchmark Administration, the administrator of LIBOR, with the support of the United States Federal Reserve and the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, announced plans to consult on ceasing publication of U.S. Dollar LIBOR on December 31, 2021 for only the one-week and two-month U.S. Dollar LIBOR tenors, and on June 30, 2023 for all other U.S. Dollar LIBOR tenors. The United States Federal Reserve concurrently issued a statement advising banks to stop new U.S. Dollar LIBOR issuances by the end of 2021. Such announcements indicate that the continuation of LIBOR on the current basis will not be guaranteed after 2021.
In the event of the continued or permanent unavailability of LIBOR, many of our financing agreements contain a provision requiring or permitting us to enter into negotiations with our lenders to agree to an alternative interest rate or an alternative basis for determining the interest rate. These clauses present significant uncertainties as to how alternative rates or alternative bases for determination of rates would be agreed upon, as well as the potential for disputes or litigation with our lenders regarding the appropriateness or comparability to LIBOR of any substitute indices. In the absence of an agreement between us and our lenders, most of our financing agreements provide that LIBOR would be replaced with some variation of the lenders’ cost-of-funds rate. The discontinuation of LIBOR presents a number of potential risks to our business, including volatility in applicable interest rates among our financing agreements, increased lending costs for future financing agreements or unavailability of or difficulty in attaining financing, which could in turn have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
In order to manage our exposure to interest rate fluctuations, we may from time to time use interest rate derivatives to effectively fix some of our floating rate debt obligations. No assurance can however be given that the use of these derivative instruments, if any, may effectively protect us from adverse interest rate movements. The use of interest rate derivatives may affect our results through mark to market valuation of these derivatives. Also, adverse movements in interest rate derivatives may require us to post cash as collateral, which may impact our free cash position.
If we, including the Scorpio Pools, cannot meet our customers' quality and compliance requirements we may not be able to operate our vessels profitably which could have an adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
Customers, in particular those in the oil industry, have an increasingly high focus on quality and compliance standards with their suppliers across the entire value chain, including the shipping and transportation segment. Our, and the Scorpio Pools', continuous compliance with these standards and quality requirements is vital for our operations. Related risks could materialize in multiple ways, including a sudden and unexpected breach in quality and/or compliance concerning one or more vessels, or a continuous decrease in the quality concerning one or more vessels occurring over time. Moreover, continuous increasing requirements from oil industry constituents can further complicate our ability to meet the standards. Any noncompliance by us, or the Scorpio Pools, either suddenly or over a period of time, on one or more vessels, or an increase in requirements by oil operators above and beyond what we deliver, may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
We are required to make significant investments in ballast water management which may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, and financial position.
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Vessels' Ballast Water and Sediments, or the BWM Convention, aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another, by establishing standards and procedures for the management and control of ships' ballast water and sediments. The BWM Convention’s implementing regulations call for a phased introduction of mandatory ballast water exchange requirements, to be replaced in time with mandatory concentration limits, and require all ships to carry a ballast water record book and an international ballast water management certificate. The BWM Convention was ratified in September 2016 and entered into force in September 2017. The IMO has imposed updated guidelines for ballast water management systems specifying the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged from a vessel’s ballast water. Depending on the date of the International Oil Pollution Prevention, or IOPP, renewal survey, existing vessels constructed before September 8, 2017, must comply with the updated D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019. Ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017 are to comply with the D-2 standards on or after September 8, 2017. For most vessels, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms. The cost of such systems, including installation, is expected to be between $1.0 million and $1.5 million per vessel.
121 of the 131 vessels in our owned, finance leased or bareboat chartered-in fleet currently have ballast water treatment systems installed. Additionally, sixteen vessels are under contract to have ballast water treatment systems installed. All vessels will be required to have ballast water treatment systems installed by the third quarter of 2023. We cannot be assured that these systems will be approved by the regulatory bodies of every jurisdiction in which we may wish to conduct our business. Accordingly, we may have to make additional investments in these vessels and substantial investments in the remaining vessels in our fleet that do not carry any such equipment. The investment in ballast water treatment systems could have an adverse material impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations depending on the ability to install effective ballast water treatment systems and the extent to which existing vessels must be modified to accommodate such systems.
Furthermore, United States regulations are currently changing. Although the 2013 Vessel General Permit (“VGP”) program and U.S. National Invasive Species Act (“NISA”) are currently in effect to regulate ballast discharge, exchange and installation, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (“VIDA”), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018, requires that the EPA develop national standards of performance for approximately 30 discharges, similar to those found in the VGP within two years. On October 26, 2020, the EPA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Vessel Incidental Discharge National Standards of Performance under VIDA. By approximately 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard must develop corresponding implementation, compliance, and enforcement regulations regarding ballast water. The new regulations could require the installation of new equipment, which may cause us to incur substantial costs.
Sulfur regulations to reduce air pollution from ships are likely to require retrofitting of vessels and may cause us to incur significant costs.
Effective January 1, 2020, the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency for maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by vessels requires vessels to comply with its low sulfur fuel oil requirement, which cuts sulfur levels from 3.5% to 0.5%. The interpretation of "fuel oil used on board" includes use in main engines, auxiliary engines and boilers. Shipowners may comply with this regulation by (i) using 0.5% sulfur fuels on board, which is available around the world but at a higher cost due to increased market demand; (ii) installing exhaust gas cleaning systems, known as scrubbers, for cleaning of the exhaust gas; or (iii) by retrofitting vessels to be powered by liquefied natural gas, which may not be a viable option for shipowners due to the lack of supply network and high costs involved in this process. Costs of compliance with these regulatory changes may be significant and may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
We have entered into agreements with third parties to purchase and install Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems, known as “scrubbers”, on 98 vessels in our fleet for an estimated cost of $2.5 million per vessel, which we have financed and plan to continue to finance through new loan facilities, increases in current loan facilities, and working capital. As of March 30, 2021, we have successfully installed scrubbers on 79 of the vessels in our fleet. Additionally, all of the vessels acquired as part of the 2019 Trafigura Transaction (as defined below) were scrubber fitted upon acquisition. For our vessels that have not yet been retrofitted with scrubbers, we are complying with current IMO standards by using compliant bunkers and fuels with 0.5% sulfur content.
We are subject to complex laws and regulations, including environmental laws and regulations that can increase our liability and adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and our available cash.
Our operations are subject to numerous laws and regulations in the form of international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and national and international regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate or are registered, which can significantly affect the ownership and operation of our vessels. Compliance with such laws and regulations, where applicable, may require installation of costly equipment or operational changes and may affect the resale value or useful lives of our vessels. We may also incur additional costs in order to comply with other existing and future regulatory obligations, including, but not limited to, costs relating to air emissions including greenhouse gases, the management of ballast and bilge waters, maintenance and inspection, elimination of tin-based paint, development and implementation of emergency procedures and insurance coverage or other financial assurance of our ability to address pollution incidents.
A failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations may result in administrative and civil penalties, criminal sanctions or the suspension or termination of our operations. Environmental requirements can also affect the resale value or useful lives of our vessels, could require a reduction in cargo capacity, ship modifications or operational changes or restrictions, could lead to decreased availability of insurance coverage for environmental matters or could result in the denial of access to certain jurisdictional waters or ports or detention in certain ports. Under local, national and foreign laws, as well as international treaties and conventions, we could incur material liabilities, including clean-up obligations and natural resource damages liability, in the event that there is a release of hazardous materials from our vessels or otherwise in connection with our operations. Environmental laws often impose strict liability for remediation of spills and releases of oil and hazardous substances, which could subject us to liability without regard to whether we were negligent or at fault. We could also become subject to personal injury or property damage claims relating to the release of hazardous substances associated with our existing or historic operations. Violations of, or liabilities under, environmental requirements can result in substantial penalties, fines and other sanctions, including, in certain instances, seizure or detention of our vessels, and could harm our reputation with current or potential charterers of our tankers.
In addition, many environmental requirements are designed to reduce the risk of pollution, such as from oil spills, and our compliance with these requirements could be costly. To comply with these and other regulations, including: (i) the sulfur emission requirements of Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships, or MARPOL, which instituted a global 0.5% (lowered from 3.5% as of January 1, 2020) sulfur cap on marine fuel consumed by a vessel, unless the vessel is equipped with a scrubber, and (ii) the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments of the International Maritime Organization, or the IMO, which requires vessels to install expensive ballast water treatment systems, we may be required to incur additional costs to meet new maintenance and inspection requirements, develop contingency plans for potential spills, and obtain insurance coverage. The increased demand for low sulfur fuels may increase the costs of fuel for our vessels that do not have scrubbers. Additional conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted that could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of doing business and which may materially and adversely affect our operations. Further, we are required to satisfy insurance and financial responsibility requirements for potential oil (including marine fuel) spills and other pollution incidents. Although we have arranged insurance to cover certain environmental risks, there can be no assurance that such insurance will be sufficient to cover all such risks or that any claims will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition and available cash.
Please see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Environmental and Other Regulations in the Shipping Industry” for a discussion of the environmental and other regulations applicable to us.
If we fail to comply with international safety regulations, we may be subject to increased liability, which may adversely affect our insurance coverage and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports.
The operation of our vessels is affected by the requirements set forth in the IMO’s International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention, or the ISM Code, promulgated by the IMO and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974, or SOLAS Convention. The ISM Code requires the party with operational control of a vessel to develop and maintain an extensive “safety management system” that includes, among other things, the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for safe operation and describing procedures for dealing with emergencies. Failure to comply with the ISM code may subject us to increased liability and may invalidate existing insurance or decrease available insurance coverage for our affected vessels and such failure may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. The U.S. Coast Guard and European Union authorities enforce compliance with the ISM and International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, or the ISPS Code, and prohibit non-compliant vessels from trading in U.S. and European Union ports. This could have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position. Given that the IMO continues to review and introduce new regulations, it is impossible to predict what additional regulations, if any, may be passed by the IMO and what effect, if any, such regulations might have on our operations.
Because such conventions, laws, and regulations are often revised, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with such conventions, laws and regulations or the impact thereof on the resale prices or useful lives of our vessels. Additional conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted which could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of our doing business and which may materially adversely affect our operations. We are required by various governmental and quasigovernmental agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses, certificates, and financial assurances with respect to our operations.
Recent action by the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee and United States agencies indicate that cybersecurity regulations for the maritime industry are likely to be further developed in the near future in an attempt to combat cybersecurity threats. For example, cyber-risk management systems must be incorporated by ship-owners and managers by 2021. This might cause companies to cultivate additional procedures for monitoring cybersecurity, which could require additional expenses and/or capital expenditures. However, the impact of such regulations is hard to predict at this time.
Please see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Environmental and Other Regulations in the Shipping Industry” for a discussion of the environmental and other regulations applicable to us.
Developments in safety and environmental requirements relating to the recycling of vessels may result in escalated and unexpected costs.
The 2009 Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, or the Hong Kong Convention, aims to ensure ships being recycled once they reach the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to the environment, human health and safety. The Hong Kong Convention has yet to be ratified by the required number of countries to enter into force. Upon the Hong Kong Convention’s entry into force, each ship sent for recycling will have to carry an inventory of its hazardous materials. The hazardous materials, whose use or installation are prohibited in certain circumstances, are listed in an appendix to the Hong Kong Convention. Ships will be required to have surveys to verify their inventory of hazardous materials initially, throughout their lives and prior to the ship being recycled. The Hong Kong Convention, which is currently open for accession by IMO member states, will enter into force 24 months after the date on which 15 IMO member states, representing at least 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, have ratified or approved accession. As of the date of this annual report, 16 countries have ratified or approved accession of the Hong Kong Convention but the requirement of 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage has not yet been satisfied.
On November 20, 2013, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU adopted the Ship Recycling Regulation, which retains the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention and requires that certain commercial seagoing vessels flying the flag of an EU member state may be recycled only in facilities included on the European list of permitted ship recycling facilities.
Apart from that, any vessel, including ours, is required to set up and maintain an Inventory of Hazardous Materials from December 31, 2018 for EU flagged new ships and from December 31, 2020 for EU flagged existing ships and Non-EU flagged ships calling at a port or anchorage of an EU member state. Such a system includes information on the hazardous materials with a quantity above the threshold values specified in relevant EU Resolution and that are identified in ship’s structure and equipment. This inventory should be properly maintained and updated, especially after repairs, conversions or unscheduled maintenance on board the ship.
These regulatory requirements may lead to cost escalation by shipyards, repair yards and recycling yards. This may then result in a decrease in the residual recycling value of a vessel, which could potentially not cover the cost to comply with the latest requirements, which may have an adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
We operate tankers worldwide, and as a result, we are exposed to inherent operational and international risks, which may adversely affect our business and financial condition.
The operation of an ocean-going vessel carries inherent risks. Our vessels and their cargoes will be at risk of being damaged or lost because of events such as marine disasters, bad weather, and other acts of God, business interruptions caused by mechanical failures, grounding, fire, explosions and collisions, human error, war, terrorism, piracy and other circumstances or events. Changing economic, regulatory and political conditions in some countries, including political and military conflicts, have from time to time resulted in attacks on vessels, mining of waterways, piracy, terrorism, labor strikes and boycotts. These hazards may result in death or injury to persons, loss of revenues or property, payment of ransoms, environmental damage, higher insurance rates, damage to our customer relationships, market disruptions, and interference with shipping routes (such as delay or rerouting), which may reduce our revenue or increase our expenses and also subject us to litigation. In addition, the operation of tankers has unique operational risks associated with the transportation of oil. An oil spill may cause significant environmental damage, and the associated costs could exceed the insurance coverage available to us. Compared to other types of vessels, tankers are exposed to a higher risk of damage and loss by fire, whether ignited by a terrorist attack, collision, or other cause, due to the high flammability and high volume of the oil transported in tankers.
If our vessels suffer damage, they may need to be repaired at a drydocking facility. The costs of drydock repairs are unpredictable and may be substantial. We may have to pay drydocking costs that our insurance does not cover in full. The loss of revenues while these vessels are being repaired and repositioned, as well as the actual cost of these repairs, may adversely affect our business and financial condition. In addition, space at drydocking facilities is sometimes limited and not all drydocking facilities are conveniently located. We may be unable to find space at a suitable drydocking facility or our vessels may be forced to travel to a drydocking facility that is not conveniently located to our vessels’ positions. The loss of earnings while these vessels are forced to wait for space or to travel to more distant drydocking facilities may adversely affect our business and financial condition. Further, the total loss of any of our vessels could harm our reputation as a safe and reliable vessel owner and operator. If we are unable to adequately maintain or safeguard our vessels, we may be unable to prevent any such damage, costs, or loss which could negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and available cash.
Increased inspection procedures could increase costs and disrupt our business.
International shipping is subject to various security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin and destination and trans-shipment points. Inspection procedures can result in the seizure of the cargo and/or our vessels, delays in loading, offloading or delivery and the levying of customs duties, fines or other penalties against us. It is possible that changes to inspection procedures could impose additional financial and legal obligations on us. Furthermore, changes to inspection procedures could also impose additional costs and obligations on our customers and may, in certain cases, render the shipment of certain types of cargo uneconomical or impractical. Any such changes or developments may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and available cash.
Outbreaks of epidemic and pandemic diseases, including COVID-19, and governmental responses thereto could adversely affect our business.
Global public health threats, such as COVID-19 (as described more fully below), influenza and other highly communicable diseases or viruses, outbreaks of which have from time to time occurred in various parts of the world in which we operate, including China, could adversely impact our operations, as well as the operations of our customers. The ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent spread to other parts of the world has, among other things, caused delays and uncertainties relating to newbuildings, drydockings and scrubber installations at shipyards.
The ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, a virus causing potentially deadly respiratory tract infections first identified in China, has already caused severe global disruptions and may negatively affect economic conditions regionally as well as globally and otherwise impact our operations and the operations of our customers and suppliers. Governments in affected countries are imposing travel bans, quarantines and other emergency public health measures. In response to the virus, many countries have implemented lockdown measures, and other countries and local governments may enact similar policies. Companies are also taking precautions, such as requiring employees to work remotely, imposing travel restrictions and temporarily closing businesses. These restrictions, and future prevention and mitigation measures, are likely to have an adverse impact on global economic conditions, which could materially and adversely affect our future operations. Uncertainties regarding the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak are likely to result in sustained market turmoil, which could also negatively impact our business, financial condition and cash flows. As a result of these measures, our vessels may not be able to call on ports, or may be restricted from disembarking from ports, located in regions affected by the outbreak. In addition, we may experience severe operational disruptions and delays, unavailability of normal port infrastructure and services including limited access to equipment, critical goods and personnel, disruptions to crew change, quarantine of ships and/or crew, counterparty solidity, closure of ports and custom offices, as well as disruptions in the supply chain and industrial production, which may lead to reduced cargo demand, amongst other potential consequences attendant to epidemic and pandemic diseases.
The COVID-19 pandemic and measures to contain its spread have negatively impacted regional and global economies and trade patterns in markets in which we operate, the way we operate our business, and the businesses of our charterers and suppliers. These negative impacts could continue or worsen, even after the pandemic itself diminishes or ends. Companies, including us, have also taken precautions, such as requiring employees to work remotely and imposing travel restrictions, while some other businesses have been required to close entirely. Moreover, we face significant risks to our personnel and operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our crews face risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a result of travel to ports in which cases of COVID-19 have been reported. Our shore-based personnel likewise face risk of such exposure, as we maintain offices in areas that have been impacted by the spread of COVID-19.
Measures against COVID-19 in a number of countries have restricted crew rotations on our vessels, which may continue or become more severe. As a result, in 2020, we experienced and may continue to experience disruptions to our normal vessel operations caused by increased deviation time associated with positioning our vessels to countries in which we can undertake a crew rotation in compliance with such measures. Delays in crew rotations have led to issues with crew fatigue and may continue to do so, which may result in delays or other operational issues. We have had and expect to continue to have increased expenses due to incremental fuel consumption and days in which our vessels are unable to earn revenue in order to deviate to certain ports on which we would ordinarily not call during a typical voyage. We may also incur additional expenses associated with testing, personal protective equipment, quarantines, and travel expenses such as airfare costs in order to perform crew rotations in the current environment. In 2020, delays in crew rotations have also caused us to incur additional costs related to crew bonuses paid to retain the existing crew members on board and may continue to do so.
The COVID-19 pandemic and measures in place against the spread of the virus have led to a highly difficult environment in which to dispose of vessels given difficulty to physically inspect vessels. The impact of COVID-19 has also resulted in reduced industrial activity in China with temporary closures of factories and other facilities, labor shortages and restrictions on travel. We believe these disruptions along with other seasonal factors, including lower demand for some of the cargoes we carry, have contributed to lower tanker rates in 2020.
Epidemics may also affect personnel operating payment systems through which we receive revenues from the chartering of our vessels or pay for our expenses, resulting in delays in payments. Organizations across industries, including ours, are rightly focusing on their employees’ well-being, whilst making sure that their operations continue undisrupted and at the same time, adapting to the new ways of operating. As such employees are encouraged or even required to operate remotely which significantly increases the risk of cyber security attacks.
At present, it is not possible to ascertain the overall impact of COVID-19 on our business and on the tanker industry in general. However, we assess that the tanker charter rates have been reduced significantly as a result of COVID-19 after an initial increase in rates at the start of 2020 and that the shipping industry in general and our Company specifically are likely to continue to be exposed to volatility in the near term. Thus, the occurrence of any of the foregoing events or other epidemics or an increase in the severity or duration of COVID-19 or other epidemics could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, value of our vessels, and ability to pay dividends.
The extent of the COVID-19 outbreak’s effect on our operational and financial performance will depend on future developments, including the duration, spread and intensity of the outbreak, any resurgence or mutation of the virus, the availability of vaccines and their global deployment, the development of effective treatments, the imposition of effective public safety and other protective measures and the public’s response to such measures. There continues to be a high level of uncertainty relating to how the pandemic will evolve, how governments and consumers will react and progress on the approval and distribution of vaccines, all of which are uncertain and difficult to predict considering the rapidly evolving landscape. As a result, although our operations have not been materially affected by the COVID-19 outbreak to date, the ultimate severity of the COVID-19 outbreak is uncertain at this time and therefore we cannot predict the impact it may have on our future operations, which impact could be material and adverse, particularly if the pandemic continues to evolve into a severe worldwide health crisis.
Political instability, terrorist or other attacks, and war or international hostilities can affect the tanker industry, which may adversely affect our business.
We conduct most of our operations outside of the United States, and our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition may be adversely affected by changing economic, political and government conditions in the countries and regions where our vessels are employed or registered. Moreover, we operate in a sector of the economy that is likely to be adversely impacted by the effects of political conflicts, including the current political instability in the Middle East and the South China Sea region and other geographic countries and areas, geopolitical events such as Brexit, terrorist or other attacks, war (or threatened war) or international hostilities, such as those between the United States and North Korea. Terrorist attacks, as well as the frequent incidents of terrorism in the Middle East, and the continuing response of the United States and others to these attacks, as well as the threat of future terrorist attacks around the world, continue to cause uncertainty in the world's financial markets and may affect our business, operating results and financial condition. Continuing conflicts and recent developments in the Middle East, including increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran, as well as the presence of U.S. or other armed forces in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and various other regions, may lead to additional acts of terrorism and armed conflict around the world, which may contribute to further economic instability in the global financial markets. As a result of the above, insurers have increased premiums and reduced or restricted coverage for losses caused by terrorist acts generally. These uncertainties could also adversely affect our ability to obtain additional financing on terms acceptable to us or at all. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our operating results, revenues and costs. Additionally, Brexit, or similar events in other jurisdictions, could impact global markets, including foreign exchange and securities markets; any resulting changes in currency exchange rates, tariffs, treaties and other regulatory matters could in turn adversely impact our business and operations.
Further, governments may turn and have turned to trade barriers to protect their domestic industries against foreign imports, thereby depressing shipping demand. In particular, in recent years, leaders in the United States and China have implemented certain increasingly protective trade measures, including tariffs, which have been somewhat mitigated by the recent trade deal (first phase trade agreement) between the United States and China in early 2020, which, among other things, requires China to purchase over $50 billion of energy products including crude oil. The results of the 2020 presidential election in the United States have created significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United States, China and other exporting countries, including with respect to trade policies, treaties, government regulations and tariffs. However, it is not yet clear how the new United States administration under President Biden may deviate from the former administration’s protectionist foreign trade policies. Protectionist developments, or the perception that they may occur, may have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions, and may significantly reduce global trade. Moreover, increasing trade protectionism may cause an increase in (a) the cost of goods exported from regions globally, (b) the length of time required to transport goods and (c) the risks associated with exporting goods. Such increases may significantly affect the quantity of goods to be shipped, shipping time schedules, voyage costs and other associated costs, which could have an adverse impact on our charterers' business, operating results and financial condition and could thereby affect their ability to make timely charter hire payments to us and to renew and increase the number of their time charters with us. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
In the past, political instability has also resulted in attacks on vessels, mining of waterways and other efforts to disrupt international shipping, particularly in the Arabian Gulf region. Acts of terrorism and piracy have also affected vessels trading in regions such as the South China Sea, the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa and the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia.
Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows, financial position and our ability to pay any cash distributions to our stockholders.
The U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union may have a negative effect on global economic conditions, financial markets and our business.
In June 2016, a majority of voters in the U.K. elected to withdraw from the EU in a national referendum (informally known as “Brexit”), a process that the government of the U.K. formally initiated in March 2017. Since then, the U.K. and the EU have been negotiating the terms of a withdrawal agreement, which was approved in October 2019 and ratified in January 2020. The U.K. formally exited the EU on January 31, 2020, although a transition period remained in place until December 2020, during which the U.K. was subject to the rules and regulations of the EU. On December 24, 2020, the U.K. and the EU entered into a trade and cooperation agreement, or the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which was applied on a provisional basis from January 1, 2021. While the new economic relationship does not match the relationship that existed during the time the U.K. was a member state of the EU, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement sets out preferential arrangements in certain areas such as trade in goods and in services, digital trade and intellectual property. Negotiations between the U.K. and the EU are expected to continue in relation to other areas which are not covered by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The long-term effects of Brexit will depend on the effects of the implementation and application of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and any other relevant agreements between the U.K. and EU. Brexit has also given rise to calls for the governments of other EU member states to consider withdrawal. These developments and uncertainties, or the perception that any of them may occur, have had and may continue to have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets, and may significantly reduce global market liquidity and restrict the ability of key market participants to operate in certain financial markets. Any of these factors could depress economic activity and restrict our access to capital, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and on our consolidated financial position, results of operations and our ability to pay distributions. Additionally, Brexit or similar events in other jurisdictions, could impact global markets, including foreign exchange and securities markets; any resulting changes in currency exchange rates, tariffs, treaties and other regulatory matters could in turn adversely impact our business and operations.
Brexit contributes to considerable uncertainty concerning the current and future economic environment. Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets.
If our vessels call on ports located in countries or territories that are subject to sanctions or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government, the European Union, the United Nations, or other governments, it could result in monetary fines or penalties imposed on us and may adversely affect our reputation and the market for our securities.
Although no vessels owned or operated by us called on ports located in countries or territories subject to country-wide or territory-wide sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government or other authorities or countries identified by the U.S. government or other authorities as state sponsors of terrorism (“Sanctioned Jurisdictions”) during 2020, and we intend to maintain compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, our vessels may call on ports in Sanctioned Jurisdictions in the future on charterers’ instructions and without our consent. If such activities result in a sanctions violation, we could be subject to monetary fines, penalties, or other sanctions, and our reputation and the market for our ordinary shares could be adversely affected. Although we endeavor to take precautions reasonably designed to mitigate such activities, including relevant provisions in charter agreements forbidding the use of our vessels in trade that would violate economic sanctions, there can be no assurance that we will maintain such compliance, particularly as the scope of certain laws may be unclear and may be subject to changing interpretations.
The sanctions and embargo laws and regulations vary in their application, as they do not all apply to the same covered persons or proscribe the same activities, and such sanctions and embargo laws and regulations may be amended or strengthened over time. Current or future counterparties of ours may be affiliated with persons or entities that are or may be in the future the subject of sanctions imposed by the U.S. administration, the EU, and/or other international bodies. If we determine that such sanctions require us to terminate existing or future contracts to which we or our subsidiaries are party or if we are found to be in violation of such applicable sanctions, our results of operations may be adversely affected or we may suffer reputational harm. Currently, we do not believe that any of our existing counterparties are affiliated with persons or entities that are subject to such sanctions.
Any future violation of applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations could result in fines, penalties or other sanctions that could severely impact our ability to access U.S. capital markets and conduct our business, and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us. In addition, certain institutional investors may have investment policies or restrictions that prevent them from holding securities of companies that have contracts with countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. The determination by these investors not to invest in, or to divest from, our securities may adversely affect the price at which our securities trade. Additionally, some investors may decide to divest their interest, or not to invest, in our company simply because we do business with companies that do business in sanctioned countries or territories. Moreover, our charterers may violate applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations as a result of actions that do not involve us or our vessels, and those violations could in turn negatively affect our reputation. In addition, our reputation and the market for our securities may be adversely affected if we engage in
certain other activities, such as entering into charters with individuals or entities in countries or territories subject to U.S. sanctions and embargo laws that are not controlled by the governments of those countries or territories, or engaging in operations associated with those countries or territories pursuant to contracts with third parties that are unrelated to those countries or territories or entities controlled by their governments. Investor perception of the value of our securities may also be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in these and surrounding countries.
The smuggling of drugs or other contraband onto our vessels may lead to governmental claims against us.
We expect that our vessels will call in ports where smugglers attempt to hide drugs and other contraband on vessels, with or without the knowledge of crew members. To the extent our vessels are found with contraband, whether inside or attached to the hull of our vessel and whether with or without the knowledge of any of our crew, we may face governmental or other regulatory claims which could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.
Maritime claimants could arrest or attach our vessels, which would have a negative effect on our cash flows.
Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers of cargo, lenders, and other parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against a vessel for unsatisfied debts, claims or damages. In many jurisdictions, a maritime lien holder may enforce its lien by arresting or attaching a vessel through foreclosure proceedings. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels could interrupt our business or require us to pay large sums of money to have the arrest lifted, which would have a negative effect on our cash flows.
In addition, in some jurisdictions, such as South Africa, under the “sister ship” theory of liability, a claimant may arrest both the vessel which is subject to the claimant’s maritime lien and any “associated” vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner. Claimants could try to assert “sister ship” liability against one vessel in our fleet for claims relating to another of our ships.
Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency, which may negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and available cash.
A government could requisition one or more of our vessels for title or hire. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes the owner. Also, a government could requisition our vessels for hire. Requisition for hire occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and effectively becomes the charterer at dictated charter rates. Generally, requisitions occur during a period of war or emergency. Government requisition of one or more of our vessels may negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and available cash.
Technological innovation could reduce our charterhire income and the value of our vessels.
The charterhire rates and the value and operational life of a vessel are determined by a number of factors including the vessel’s efficiency, operational flexibility and physical life. Efficiency includes speed, fuel economy and the ability to load and discharge cargo quickly. Flexibility includes the ability to enter harbors, utilize related docking facilities and pass through canals and straits. The length of a vessel’s physical life is related to its original design and construction, its maintenance and the impact of the stress of operations. If new tankers are built that are more efficient or more flexible or have longer physical lives than our vessels, competition from these more technologically advanced vessels could adversely affect the amount of charterhire payments we receive for our vessels and the resale value of our vessels could significantly decrease. As a result, our available cash could be adversely affected.
Breakdowns in our information technology, including as a result of cyberattacks, may negatively impact our business, including our ability to service customers, and may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
Our ability to operate our business and service our customers is dependent on the continued operation of our information technology, or IT, systems, including our IT systems that relate to, among other things, the location, operation, maintenance and employment of our vessels. Our IT systems may be compromised by a malicious third party, man-made or natural events, or the intentional or inadvertent actions or inactions by our employees or third-party service providers. If our IT systems experience a breakdown, including as a result of cyberattacks, our business information may be lost, destroyed, disclosed, misappropriated, altered or accessed without consent, and our IT systems, or those of our service providers, may be disrupted.
Cybercrime attacks could cause disclosure and destruction of business databases and could expose the Company to extortion by making business data temporarily unreadable. As cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated, and as tools and resources become more readily available to malicious third parties, there can be no guarantee that our actions, security measures
and controls designed to prevent, detect or respond to intrusion, to limit access to data, to prevent destruction or alteration of data or to limit the negative impact from such attacks, can provide absolute security against compromise.
Any breakdown in our IT systems, including breaches or other compromises of information security, whether or not involving a cyberattack, may lead to lost revenues resulting from a loss in competitive advantage due to the unauthorized disclosure, alteration, destruction or use of proprietary information, including intellectual property, the failure to retain or attract customers, the disruption of critical business processes or information technology systems and the diversion of management's attention and resources. In addition, such breakdown could result in significant remediation costs, including repairing system damage, engaging third-party experts, deploying additional personnel, training employees and compensation or incentives offered to third parties whose data has been compromised. We may also be subject to legal claims or legal proceedings, including regulatory investigations and actions, and the attendant legal fees as well as potential settlements, judgments and fines.
Even without actual breaches of information security, protection against increasingly sophisticated and prevalent cyberattacks may result in significant future prevention, detection, response and management costs, or other costs, including the deployment of additional cybersecurity technologies, engaging third-party experts, deploying additional personnel and training employees. Further, as cyberthreats are continually evolving, our controls and procedures may become inadequate, and we may be required to devote additional resources to modify or enhance our systems in the future. Such expenses could have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
Increasing scrutiny and changing expectations from investors, lenders and other market participants with respect to our Environmental, Social and Governance policies may impose additional costs on us or expose us to additional risks.
Companies across all industries are facing increasing scrutiny relating to their ESG policies. Investor advocacy groups, certain institutional investors, investment funds, lenders and other market participants are increasingly focused on ESG practices and in recent years have placed increasing importance on the implications and social cost of their investments. The increased focus and activism related to ESG and similar matters may hinder access to capital, as investors and lenders may decide to reallocate capital or to not commit capital as a result of their assessment of a company’s ESG practices. Companies which do not adapt to or comply with investor, lender or other industry shareholder expectations and standards, which are evolving, or which are perceived to have not responded appropriately to the growing concern for ESG issues, regardless of whether there is a legal requirement to do so, may suffer from reputational damage and the business, financial condition, and/or stock price of such a company could be materially and adversely affected.
We may face increasing pressures from investors, lenders and other market participants, who are increasingly focused on climate change, to prioritize sustainable energy practices, reduce our carbon footprint and promote sustainability. As a result, we may be required to implement more stringent ESG procedures or standards so that our existing and future investors and lenders remain invested in us and make further investments in us, especially given the highly focused and specific trade of crude oil transportation in which we are engaged. If we do not meet these standards, our business and/or our ability to access capital could be harmed.
Additionally, certain investors and lenders may exclude oil transport companies, such as us, from their investing portfolios altogether due to ESG factors. These limitations in both the debt and equity capital markets may affect our ability to grow as our plans for growth may include accessing the equity and debt capital markets. If those markets are unavailable, or if we are unable to access alternative means of financing on acceptable terms, or at all, we may be unable to implement our business strategy, which would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations and impair our ability to service our indebtedness. Further, it is likely that we will incur additional costs and require additional resources to monitor, report and comply with wide ranging ESG requirements. The occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
If labor interruptions are not resolved in a timely manner, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and available cash.
We, indirectly through Scorpio Ship Management S.A.M., or SSM, our technical manager, employ masters, officers and crews to man our vessels. If not resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner, industrial action or other labor unrest could prevent or hinder our operations from being carried out as we expect and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and available cash.
RISKS RELATED TO OUR COMPANY
We may not realize all of the anticipated benefits of our investment in exhaust gas cleaning systems, or 'scrubbers.'
We expect to retrofit a substantial majority of our vessels with exhaust gas cleaning systems, or scrubbers. The scrubbers will enable our ships to use high sulfur fuel oil, which is less expensive than low sulfur fuel oil, in certain parts of the world. As of March 30, 2021, we have installed scrubbers on 79 vessels in our fleet, with an additional 19 vessels scheduled to be retrofitted with scrubbers by the beginning of 2022. Additionally, all of the vessels acquired as part of the 2019 Trafigura Transaction (as defined below) were scrubber fitted upon acquisition. The total estimated investment for these systems, including estimated installation costs is expected to be approximately $2.5 million per vessel, which we are financing through new loan facilities, increases in current loan facilities, and working capital.
There is a risk that some or all of the expected benefits of our investment in scrubbers may fail to materialize. The realization of such benefits may be affected by a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control, including but not limited to the pricing differential between high and low sulfur fuel oil, the availability of low sulfur fuel oil in the ports in which we operate and the impact of changes in the laws and regulations regulating the discharge and disposal of wash water.
Failure to secure financing, or to realize the anticipated benefits of our investment in scrubbers, could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and available cash.
We cannot assure you that our internal controls and procedures over financial reporting will be sufficient.
We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and the other rules and regulations of the SEC, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Sarbanes-Oxley. Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley requires that we evaluate and determine the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting. If we have a material weakness in our internal controls over financial reporting, we may not detect errors on a timely basis and our financial statements may be materially misstated. We dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to ensure compliance with these regulatory requirements. We will continue to evaluate areas such as corporate governance, corporate control, internal audit, disclosure controls and procedures and financial reporting and accounting systems. We will make changes in any of these and other areas, including our internal control over financial reporting, which we believe are necessary. However, these and other measures we may take may not be sufficient to allow us to satisfy our obligations as a public company on a timely and reliable basis.
We may have difficulty managing our planned growth properly.
We have and may continue to grow by expanding our operations and adding to our fleet. Any future growth will primarily depend upon a number of factors, some of which may not be within our control, including our ability to effectively identify, purchase, finance, develop and integrate any tankers or businesses. Furthermore, the number of employees that perform services for us and our current operating and financial systems may not be adequate as we expand the size of our fleet, and we may not be able to effectively hire more employees or adequately improve those systems. Finally, acquisitions may require additional equity issuances or debt issuances (with amortization payments), or entry into other financing arrangements which could, among other things, reduce our available cash. If any such events occur, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected and the amount of cash available for distribution as dividends to our shareholders may be reduced.
Growing any business by acquisition presents numerous risks such as undisclosed liabilities and obligations, difficulty in obtaining additional qualified personnel and managing relationships with customers and suppliers and integrating newly acquired operations into existing infrastructures. The expansion of our fleet may impose significant additional responsibilities on our management and staff, and the management and staff of our commercial and technical managers, and may necessitate that we, and they, increase the number of personnel. We cannot give any assurance that we will be successful in executing our growth plans or that we will not incur significant expenses and losses in connection with our future growth.
We operate secondhand vessels, which exposes us to increased operating costs which could adversely affect our earnings and, as our fleet ages, the risks associated with older vessels could adversely affect our ability to obtain profitable charters.
We have acquired and may continue to acquire secondhand vessels. We are entitled to inspect such vessels prior to purchase, but this does not provide us with the same knowledge about their condition that we would have had if these vessels had been built for and operated exclusively by us. Generally, we do not receive the benefit of warranties from the builders for the secondhand vessels that we acquire.
In general, the costs to maintain a vessel in good operating condition increase with the age of the vessel. Older vessels are typically less fuel-efficient than more recently constructed vessels due to improvements in engine technology. Cargo insurance rates increase with the age of a vessel, making older vessels less desirable to charterers.
Governmental regulations, safety or other equipment standards related to the age of vessels may require expenditures for alterations, or the addition of new equipment, to our vessels and may restrict the type of activities in which the vessels may engage. As our vessels age, market conditions may not justify those expenditures or enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of their useful lives.
An increase in operating costs would decrease earnings and available cash.
Under time charter agreements, the charterer is responsible for voyage costs and the owner is responsible for the vessel operating costs. We currently do not have any vessels on long-term time charter-out agreements (with initial terms of one year or greater). We have 22 vessels operating under bareboat chartered-in agreements and the remaining vessels in our fleet are either owned or finance leased. When our owned, finance leased vessels, or bareboat chartered-in vessels are employed in one of the Scorpio Pools, the pool is responsible for voyage expenses and we are responsible for vessel costs. As of March 30, 2021, all of our owned, finance leased vessels and bareboat chartered-in vessels were employed through the Scorpio Pools. When our vessels operate directly in the spot market, we are responsible for both voyage expenses and vessel operating costs. Our vessel operating costs include the costs of crew, fuel (for spot chartered vessels), provisions, deck and engine stores, insurance and maintenance and repairs, which depend on a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Further, if our vessels suffer damage, they may need to be repaired at a drydocking facility. The costs of drydocking repairs are unpredictable and can be substantial. Increases in any of these expenses would decrease earnings and available cash. Please see “We will be required to make additional capital expenditures should we determine to expand the number of vessels in our fleet and to maintain all our vessels.”
We will be required to make additional capital expenditures should we determine to expand the number of vessels in our fleet and to maintain all our vessels.
Our business strategy is based in part upon the expansion of our fleet through the purchase of additional vessels. If we are unable to fulfill our obligations under any memorandum of agreement for any current or future vessel acquisitions, the sellers of such vessels may be permitted to terminate such contracts and we may forfeit all or a portion of the down payments we have already made under such contracts, and we may be sued for, among other things, any outstanding balances we are obligated to pay and other damages.
In addition, we will incur significant maintenance costs for our existing and any newly-acquired vessels. A newbuilding vessel must be drydocked within five years of its delivery from a shipyard, and vessels are typically drydocked every 30 months thereafter, not including any unexpected repairs. We estimate the cost to drydock a vessel to be between $500,000 and $1,500,000, excluding costs relating to compliance with applicable ballast water treatment requirements and costs related to the installation of scrubbers, depending on the size and condition of the vessel and the location of drydocking.
If we do not generate or reserve enough cash flow from operations to pay for our capital expenditures, we may need to incur additional indebtedness or enter into alternative financing arrangements, which may be on terms that are unfavorable to us. If we are unable to fund our obligations or to secure financing, it would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
Please also see "We are required to make significant investments in ballast water management which may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, and financial position", "We may not realize all of the anticipated benefits of our investment in exhaust gas cleaning systems, or 'scrubbers'" and "We are subject to complex laws and regulations, including environmental laws and regulations that can adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial conditions, and our available cash."
Declines in charter rates and other market deterioration caused us to incur impairment charges of $16.8 million during the year ended December 31, 2020.
We evaluate the carrying amounts of our vessels to determine if events have occurred that would require an impairment of their carrying amounts. The recoverable amount of vessels is reviewed based on events and changes in circumstances that would indicate that the carrying amount of the assets might not be recovered. The review for potential impairment indicators and projection of future cash flows related to the vessels is complex and requires us to make various estimates including future freight rates, earnings from the vessels and discount rates. All of these items have been historically volatile.
In accordance with IFRS, we evaluate the recoverable amount as the higher of fair value less costs to sell and value in use. If the recoverable amount is less than the carrying amount of the vessel, the vessel is deemed impaired. The carrying values of our vessels may not represent their fair market value at any point in time because the new market prices of secondhand vessels tend to fluctuate with changes in charter rates and the cost of newbuildings. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we evaluated the recoverable amount of our vessels and recognized $14.2 million of impairment charge related to certain MR vessels where the value in use calculations were below their carrying amounts. The recoverable amount of goodwill is tested in a similar manner, and our carrying value of goodwill relating to the LR1 reportable segment (which arose from the acquisition of Navig8 Product Tankers Inc. in 2017), resulted in an additional impairment charge of $2.6 million. During the year ended December 31, 2019, we did not record an impairment charge. Please see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects-Critical Accounting Policies-Vessel Impairment.”
We cannot assure you that we will not recognize additional impairment losses in future years. Any impairment charges incurred as a result of further declines in charter rates could negatively affect our business, financial condition, operating results or the trading price of our securities.
Our stock price has fluctuated in the past, has recently been volatile and may be volatile in the future, and as a result, investors in our common stock could incur substantial losses.
Our stock price has fluctuated in the past, has recently been volatile and may be volatile in the future. Our stock prices may experience rapid and substantial decreases or increases in the foreseeable future that are unrelated to our operating performance or prospects. In addition, the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 has caused broad stock market and industry fluctuations. The stock market in general and the market for shipping companies in particular have experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. As a result of this volatility, investors may experience substantial losses on their investment in our common stock. The market price for our common stock may be influenced by many factors, including the following:
•investor reaction to our business strategy;
•our continued compliance with the listing standards of the NYSE;
•regulatory or legal developments in the United States and other countries, especially changes in laws or regulations applicable to our industry;
•variations in our financial results or those of companies that are perceived to be similar to us;
•our ability or inability to raise additional capital and the terms on which we raise it;
•declines in the market prices of stocks generally;
•trading volume of our common stock;
•sales of our common stock by us or our stockholders;
•general economic, industry and market conditions; and
•other events or factors, including those resulting from such events, or the prospect of such events, including war, terrorism and other international conflicts, public health issues including health epidemics or pandemics, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, adverse weather and climate conditions could disrupt our operations or result in political or economic instability.
These broad market and industry factors may seriously harm the market price of our common stock, regardless of our operating performance, and may be inconsistent with any improvements in actual or expected operating performance, financial condition or other indicators of value. Since the stock price of our common stock has fluctuated in the past, has been recently volatile and may be volatile in the future, investors in our common stock could incur substantial losses. In the past, following periods of volatility in the market, securities class-action litigation has often been instituted against companies. Such litigation, if instituted against us, could result in substantial costs and diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. There can be no guarantee that our stock price will remain at current prices.
Additionally, recently, securities of certain companies have experienced significant and extreme volatility in stock price due short sellers of shares of common stock, known as a “short squeeze”. These short squeezes have caused extreme volatility in those companies and in the market and have led to the price per share of those companies to trade at a significantly inflated rate that is disconnected from the underlying value of the company. Many investors who have purchased shares in those companies at an inflated rate face the risk of losing a significant portion of their original investment as the price per share has declined steadily as interest in those stocks have abated. While we have no reason to believe our shares would be the target of a short squeeze, there can be no assurance that we will not be in the future, and you may lose a significant portion or all of your investment if you purchase our shares at a rate that is significantly disconnected from our underlying value.
The market values of our vessels may decrease, which could limit the amount of funds that we can borrow or trigger certain financial covenants under our current or future debt facilities and we may incur a loss if we sell vessels following a decline in their market value.
The fair market values of our vessels have generally experienced high volatility. The fair market values for tankers declined significantly from historically high levels reached in 2008 and remain at relatively low levels. Such prices may fluctuate depending on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the prevailing level of charter rates and day rates, general economic and market conditions affecting the international shipping industry, types, sizes and ages of vessels, supply and demand for vessels, availability of or developments in other modes of transportation, competition from other tanker companies, cost of newbuildings, applicable governmental or other regulations and technological advances. In addition, as vessels grow older, they generally decline in value. If the fair market values of our vessels decline we may not be in compliance with certain covenants contained in our secured credit facilities, which may result in an event of default. In such circumstances, we may not be able to refinance our debt, obtain additional financing or make distributions to our shareholders and our subsidiaries may not be able to make distributions to us. The prepayment of certain debt facilities may be necessary to cause us to maintain compliance with certain covenants in the event that the value of the vessels falls below certain levels. If we are not able to comply with the covenants in our secured credit facilities, and are unable to remedy the relevant breach, our lenders could accelerate our debt and foreclose on our fleet.
Additionally, if we sell one or more of our vessels at a time when vessel prices have fallen, the sale price may be less than the vessel’s carrying value on our consolidated financial statements, resulting in a loss on sale or an impairment loss being recognized, ultimately leading to a reduction in earnings. Furthermore, if vessel values fall significantly, this could indicate a decrease in the recoverable amount for the vessel which may result in an impairment adjustment in our financial statements, which could adversely affect our financial results and condition.
For further information, please see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.”
If we are unable to operate our vessels profitably, we may be unsuccessful in competing in the highly competitive international tanker market, which would negatively affect our financial condition and our ability to expand our business.
The operation of tanker vessels and transportation of crude and petroleum products is extremely competitive, in an industry that is capital intensive and highly fragmented. Demand for transportation of oil and oil products has declined, and could continue to decline, which could lead to increased competition. Competition arises primarily from other tanker owners, including major oil companies as well as independent tanker companies, some of whom have substantially greater resources than we do. Competition for the transportation of oil and oil products can be intense and depends on price, location, size, age, condition and the acceptability of the tanker and its operators to the charterers. We will have to compete with other tanker owners, including major oil companies as well as independent tanker companies.
Our market share may decrease in the future. We may not be able to compete profitably as we expand our business into new geographic regions or provide new services. New markets may require different skills, knowledge or strategies than we use in our current markets, and the competitors in those new markets may have greater financial strength and capital resources than us.
If we do not set aside funds and are unable to borrow or raise funds for vessel replacement, at the end of a vessel’s useful life our revenue will decline, which would adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition, and available cash.
If we do not set aside funds or are unable to borrow or raise funds, including through equity issuances, for vessel replacement, we will be unable to replace the vessels in our fleet upon the expiration of their remaining useful lives, which we expect to occur between 2037 and 2045, depending on the vessel. Our cash flows and income are dependent on the revenues earned by the chartering of our vessels. If we are unable to replace the vessels in our fleet upon the expiration of their useful lives, our business, results of operations, financial condition, and available cash per share would be adversely affected. Any funds set aside for vessel replacement will reduce available cash.
Our ability to obtain additional financing may be dependent on the performance of our then existing charters and the creditworthiness of our charterers.
The actual or perceived credit quality of our charterers, and any defaults by them, may materially affect our ability to obtain the additional capital resources that we will require to purchase additional vessels or may significantly increase our costs of obtaining such capital. Our inability to obtain additional financing at all or at a higher than anticipated cost may materially affect our results of operations and our ability to implement our business strategy.
We cannot guarantee that our Board of Directors will declare dividends.
Our Board of Directors may, in its sole discretion, from time to time, declare and pay cash dividends in accordance with our organizational documents and applicable law. Our Board of Directors makes determinations regarding the payment of dividends in its sole discretion, and there is no guarantee that we will continue to pay dividends in the future.
In addition, the markets in which we operate our vessels are volatile and we cannot predict with certainty the amount of cash, if any, that will be available for distribution as dividends in any period. We may also incur expenses or liabilities or be subject to other circumstances in the future that reduce or eliminate the amount of cash that we have available for distribution as dividends, including as a result of the risks described herein. If additional financing is not available to us on acceptable terms or at all, our Board of Directors may determine to finance or refinance asset acquisitions with cash from operations, which would reduce the amount of any cash available for the payment of dividends. Please see “Item 8. Financial Information - A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information - Dividend Policy.”
United States tax authorities could treat us as a “passive foreign investment company,” which could have adverse United States federal income tax consequences to United States shareholders.
A foreign corporation will be treated as a “passive foreign investment company,” or PFIC, for United States federal income tax purposes if either (1) at least 75% of its gross income for any taxable year consists of certain types of “passive income” or (2) at least 50% of the average value of the corporation’s assets produce or are held for the production of those types of “passive income.” For purposes of these tests, “passive income” includes dividends, interest, and gains from the sale or exchange of investment property and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties which are received from unrelated parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business. For purposes of these tests, income derived from the performance of services does not constitute “passive income.” United States shareholders of a PFIC are subject to a disadvantageous United States federal income tax regime with respect to the income derived by the PFIC, the distributions they receive from the PFIC and the gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their shares in the PFIC.
Based on our current and proposed method of operation, we do not believe that we will be a PFIC with respect to any taxable year. In this regard, we intend to treat the gross income we derive or are deemed to derive from our time chartering activities as services income, rather than rental income. Accordingly, our income from our time and voyage chartering activities should not constitute “passive income,” and the assets that we own and operate in connection with the production of that income should not constitute assets that produce or are held for the production of “passive income.”
There is substantial legal authority supporting this position, consisting of case law and United States Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, pronouncements concerning the characterization of income derived from time charters and voyage charters as services income for other tax purposes. However, it should be noted that there is also authority that characterizes time charter income as rental income rather than services income for other tax purposes. Accordingly, no assurance can be given that the IRS or a court of law will accept this position, and there is a risk that the IRS or a court of law could determine that we are a PFIC. Moreover, no assurance can be given that we would not constitute a PFIC for any future taxable year if the nature and extent of our operations change.
If the IRS were to find that we are or have been a PFIC for any taxable year, our United States shareholders would face adverse United States federal income tax consequences and incur certain information reporting obligations. Under the PFIC rules, unless those shareholders make an election available under the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code (which election could itself have adverse consequences for such shareholders), such shareholders would be subject to United States federal income tax at the then prevailing rates on ordinary income plus interest, in respect of excess distributions and upon any gain from the disposition of their common shares, as if the excess distribution or gain had been recognized ratably over the shareholder’s holding period of the common shares. See “Item 10. Additional Information - E. Taxation - Passive Foreign Investment Company Status and Significant Tax Consequences” for a more comprehensive discussion of the United States federal income tax consequences to United States shareholders if we are treated as a PFIC.
We may have to pay tax on United States source shipping income, which would reduce our earnings.
Under the Code, 50% of the gross shipping income of a corporation that owns or charters vessels, as we and our subsidiaries do, that is attributable to transportation that begins or ends, but that does not both begin and end, in the United States may be subject to a 4% United States federal income tax without allowance for deductions, unless that corporation qualifies for exemption from tax under Section 883 of the Code and the regulations promulgated thereunder by the United States Department of the Treasury.
We and our subsidiaries intend to take the position that we qualify for this statutory tax exemption for United States federal income tax return reporting purposes. However, there are factual circumstances beyond our control that could cause us to lose the benefit of this tax exemption and thereby become subject to United States federal income tax on our United States source shipping income. For example, we may no longer qualify for exemption under Section 883 of the Code for a particular taxable year if shareholders with a five percent or greater interest in our common shares, or 5% Shareholders, owned, in the aggregate, 50% or more of our outstanding common shares for more than half the days during the taxable year, and there do not exist sufficient 5% Shareholders that are qualified shareholders for purposes of Section 883 of the Code to preclude nonqualified 5% Shareholders from owning 50% or more of our common shares for more than half the number of days during such taxable year or we are unable to satisfy certain substantiation requirements with regard to our 5% Shareholders. Due to the factual nature of the issues involved, there can be no assurances on the tax-exempt status of us or any of our subsidiaries.
If we or our subsidiaries were not entitled to exemption under Section 883 of the Code for any taxable year, we or our subsidiaries could be subject for such year to an effective 2% United States federal income tax on the shipping income we or they derive during such year which is attributable to the transport of cargoes to or from the United States. The imposition of this tax would have a negative effect on our business and would decrease our earnings available for distribution to our shareholders.
We are subject to certain risks with respect to our counterparties on contracts, including our vessel employment arrangements, and failure of such counterparties to meet their obligations could cause us to suffer losses or negatively impact our results of operations and cash flows.
We have entered into, and may enter into in the future, various contracts, including, without limitation, charter and pooling agreements relating to the employment of our vessels, newbuilding contracts, debt facilities, and other agreements. Such agreements subject us to counterparty risks. The ability and willingness of each of our counterparties to perform its obligations under a contract with us will depend on a number of factors that are beyond our control and may include, among other things, general economic conditions, the condition of the maritime and offshore industries, and the overall financial condition of the counterparty.
In addition, with respect to our charter arrangements, in depressed market conditions, our charterers may no longer need a vessel that is then under charter or may be able to obtain a comparable vessel at lower rates. As a result, charterers may seek to renegotiate the terms of their existing charter agreements or avoid their obligations under those contracts. If our charterers fail to meet their obligations to us or attempt to renegotiate our charter agreements, it may be difficult to secure substitute employment for such vessel, and any new charter arrangements we secure in the spot market or on time charters may be at lower rates. As a result, we could sustain significant losses which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, as well as our ability to pay dividends on our common shares and interest on our debt securities and comply with covenants in our credit facilities.
Our insurance may not be adequate to cover our losses that may result from our operations due to the inherent operational risks of the tanker industry.
We carry insurance to protect us against most of the accident-related risks involved in the conduct of our business, including marine hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance, which includes pollution risks, crew insurance and war risk insurance. However, we may not be adequately insured to cover losses from our operational risks, which could have a material adverse effect on us. Additionally, our insurers may refuse to pay particular claims and our insurance may be voidable by the insurers if we take, or fail to take, certain action, such as failing to maintain certification of our vessels with applicable maritime regulatory organizations. Any significant uninsured or under-insured loss or liability could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition and our available cash. In addition, we may not be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates in the future during adverse insurance market conditions.
Changes in the insurance markets attributable to terrorist attacks may also make certain types of insurance more difficult for us to obtain due to increased premiums or reduced or restricted coverage for losses caused by terrorist acts generally.
Because we obtain some of our insurance through protection and indemnity associations, which result in significant expenses to us, we may be required to make additional premium payments.
We may be subject to increased premium payments, or calls, in amounts based on our claim records, the claim records of our managers, as well as the claim records of other members of the protection and indemnity associations through which we receive insurance coverage for tort liability, including pollution-related liability. In addition, our protection and indemnity associations may not have enough resources to cover claims made against them. Our payment of these calls could result in significant expense to us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and available cash.
Failure to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act could result in fines, criminal penalties, contract terminations and an adverse effect on our business.
We may operate in a number of countries throughout the world, including countries known to have a reputation for corruption. We are committed to doing business in accordance with applicable anti-corruption laws and have adopted a code of conduct and ethics which is consistent and in full compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, or the FCPA. We are subject, however, to the risk that we, our affiliated entities or our or their respective officers, directors, employees and agents may take actions determined to be i