SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
|☐||REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
|☒||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021
|☐||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
|☐||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 _______________________________
For the transition period from ____ to ____.
|Commission file number||000-29106|
| || |
|Golden Ocean Group Limited|
|(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)|
|(Translation of Registrant's name into English)|
|(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)|
Par-la-Ville Place, 14 Par-la-Ville Road, Hamilton, Bermuda, HM 08
|(Address of principal executive offices)|
James Ayers, Telephone: (1) 441 2956935, Facsimile: (1) 441 295 3494,
Par-la-Ville Place, 14 Par-la-Ville Road, Hamilton, HM 08, Bermuda
|(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number 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||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common Shares, Par Value $0.05 Per Share||GOGL||NASDAQ Global Select Market|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.
200,435,621 Common Shares, Par Value $0.05 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 definition of "large accelerated filer", "accelerated filer", and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.:
Large accelerated filer x
Accelerated filer o
Non-accelerated filer o
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 whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. x
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 o
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).
INDEX TO REPORT ON FORM 20-F
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS AND SUMMARY OF RISK FACTORS
Matters discussed in this annual report and the documents incorporated by reference may constitute forward-looking statements. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the "PSLRA"), provides safe harbor protections for forward-looking statements in order to encourage companies to provide prospective information about their business. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, underlying assumptions and other statements, which are other than statements of historical facts.
We are taking advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the PSLRA and are including this cautionary statement in connection with this safe harbor legislation. This annual 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. This annual report includes assumptions, expectations, projections, intentions and beliefs about future events. These statements are intended as "forward-looking statements." 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," "plan," "targets," "projects," "likely," "will," "would," "could," "seeks," "potential," "continue," "contemplate," "possible," "might," "forecasts," "may," "should" and similar expressions or phrases may identify forward-looking statements.
The forward-looking statements in this annual report are based upon various assumptions, including without limitation, management's examination of historical operating trends, data contained in our records and 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. As a result, you are cautioned not to rely on any forward-looking statements.
In addition to these important factors and matters discussed elsewhere herein, and in the documents incorporated by reference herein, important factors that, in our view, could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include among other things:
•general market trends in the dry bulk industry, which is cyclical and volatile, including fluctuations in charter hire rates and vessel values;
•a decrease in the market value of our vessels;
•changes in supply and demand in the dry bulk shipping industry, including the market for our vessels and the number of newbuildings under construction;
•an oversupply of dry bulk vessels, which may depress charter rates and profitability;
•our future operating or financial results;
•our continued borrowing availability under our debt agreements and compliance with the covenants contained therein;
•our ability to procure or have access to financing, our liquidity and the adequacy of cash flows for our operations;
•the failure of our contract counterparties to meet their obligations, including changes in credit risk with respect to our counterparties on contracts;
•the loss of a large customer or significant business relationship;
•the strength of world economies;
•the volatility of prevailing spot market and charter-hire charter rates, which may negatively affect our earnings;
•our ability to successfully employ our dry bulk vessels and replace our operating leases on favorable terms, or at all;
•changes in our operating expenses and voyage costs, including bunker prices, fuel prices (including increased costs for low sulfur fuel), drydocking, crewing and insurance costs;
•the adequacy of our insurance to cover our losses, including in the case of a vessel collision;
•vessel breakdowns and instances of offhire;
•our ability to fund future capital expenditures and investments in the construction, acquisition and refurbishment of our vessels (including the amount and nature thereof and the timing of completion of vessels under construction, the delivery and commencement of operation dates, expected downtime and lost revenue);
•risks associated with any future vessel construction or the purchase of second-hand vessels;
•effects of new products and new technology in our industry, including the potential for technological innovation to reduce the value of our vessels and charter income derived therefrom;
•the impact of an interruption or failure of our information technology and communications systems, including the impact of cyber-attacks, upon our ability to operate;
•potential liability from safety, environmental, governmental and other requirements and potential significant additional expenditures (by us and our customers) related to complying with such regulations;
•changes in governmental rules and regulations or actions taken by regulatory authorities and the impact of government inquiries and investigations;
•the arrest of our vessels by maritime claimants;
•government requisition of our vessels during a period of war or emergency;
•our compliance with complex laws, regulations, including environmental laws and regulations and the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977;
•potential difference in interests between or among certain members of our board of directors, executive officers, senior management and shareholders;
•our ability to attract, retain and motivate key employees;
•work stoppages or other labor disruptions by our employees or the employees of other companies in related industries;
•potential exposure or loss from investment in derivative instruments;
• stability of Europe and the Euro or the inability of countries to refinance their debts;
•fluctuations in currencies, interest rates and foreign exchange rates and the impact of the discontinuance of the London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR"), after June 30, 2023 of our debt that reference LIBOR in the interest rate;
•acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels, public health threats, terrorist attacks and international hostilities and political instability;
•potential physical disruption of shipping routes due to accidents, climate-related (acute and chronic), political instability, terrorist attacks, piracy or international hostilities, including the ongoing developments in the Ukraine region;
•general domestic and international political and geopolitical conditions or events, including any further changes in U.S. trade policy that could trigger retaliatory actions by affected countries;
•the impact of adverse weather and natural disasters;
•the impact of increasing scrutiny and changing expectations from investors, lenders and other market participants with respect to our Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG") policies;
•changes in seaborne and other transportation;
•the length and severity of epidemics and pandemics, including the ongoing global outbreak of COVID-19 ("COVID-19") and governmental responses thereto and the impact on the demand for seaborne transportation in the dry bulk sector;
•fluctuations in the contributions of our joint ventures to our profits and losses;
•the potential for shareholders to not be able to bring a suit against us or enforce a judgement obtained against us in the United States;
•our treatment as a “passive foreign investment company” by U.S. tax authorities;
•being required to pay taxes on U.S. source income;
•our operations being subject to economic substance requirements;
•the volatility of the stock price for our common shares, from which investors could incur substantial losses, and the future sale of our common shares, which could cause the market price of our common shares to decline; and
•other factors discussed in "Item 3. Key Information D. Risk Factors." in this annual report.
We caution readers of this report not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates. Except to the extent required by applicable law or regulation, we undertake no obligation to release publicly any revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this annual report or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. 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.
ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION
On October 7, 2014, Knightsbridge Shipping Limited, (''Knightsbridge''), and Golden Ocean Group Limited, (''Former Golden Ocean''), entered into an agreement and plan of merger ("the Merger Agreement"), pursuant to which the two companies agreed to merge ("the Merger"), with Knightsbridge serving as the surviving legal entity. The Merger was completed on March 31, 2015, and the name of Knightsbridge was changed to Golden Ocean Group Limited. The Merger has been accounted for as a business combination using the acquisition method of accounting, with us selected as the accounting acquirer. See "Item 4. Information on the Company - A. History and Development of the Company" for more information.
Throughout this report, unless the context otherwise requires, "Golden Ocean," the "Company," "we," "us" and "our" refer to Golden Ocean Group Limited and its subsidiaries.
The term deadweight ton ("dwt"), is used in describing the capacity or size of vessels. Dwt, expressed in metric tons, each of which is equivalent to 1,000 kilograms, refers to the maximum weight of cargo and supplies that a vessel can carry.
We own and operate dry bulk vessels of the following sizes:
•Newcastlemax, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 200,000 dwt and 210,000 dwt;
•Capesize, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 105,000 dwt and 200,000 dwt;
•Panamax, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 65,000 and 105,000 dwt; and
•Ultramax, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 55,000 and 65,000 dwt.
Unless otherwise indicated, all references to "USD", "US$" and "$" in this report are to, and amounts are presented in U.S. dollars.
B. CAPITALIZATION AND INDEBTEDNESS
C. REASONS FOR THE OFFER AND USE OF PROCEEDS
D. RISK FACTORS
Our assets are primarily engaged in international dry bulk shipping. The risk factors summarized in the Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward Looking Statements and Summary of Risk Factors and detailed below, summarize the risks that may materially affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. Unless otherwise indicated in this annual report on Form 20-F, all information concerning our business and our assets is as of March 23, 2022.
Risk Factors Summary
The principal risks that could adversely affect, or have adversely affected, our Company’s business, operation results and financial conditions are categorized and detailed below.
•Risk Related to Our Industry
Our assets operate worldwide within the dry bulk shipping sector which is volatile and unpredictable. Several risk factors including but not limited to our global and local market presence will impact our widespread operations. We are exposed to regulatory, statutory, operational, technical, counterpart, environmental, and political risks, developments and regulations that may impact and or disrupt our business. Details of specific risks relating to our industry are described below.
•Risks Related to our Business
Our Company is subject to a significant number of external and internal risks. As an entity incorporated in Bermuda with operations in different jurisdictions, markets and industries, with numerous employees, shareholders, customers and other stakeholders with varying interests, we engage activities, operations and actions that would result in harming our Company, financial performance, position and ability to maintain. Details of specific risks relating to our Company are described below.
•Risk Related to an Investment in Our Securities
Our common shares are subject to a significant number of external and internal risks. The market price of our common shares has historically been unpredictable and volatile. As a holding company, we depend on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute funds to satisfy our financial and other obligations. As we are a foreign corporation, our shareholders may not have the same rights as a shareholder in a U.S. corporation may have. In addition, our shareholders may not be able to bring suit against us or enforce a judgement obtained in the U.S. against us since our offices and the majority of our assets are located outside of the U.S. Furthermore sales of our common shares or conversions of our convertible notes could cause the market price of our common shares to decline. Details of specific risks relating to our common shares are described below.
Some risks are static while other risks may change and will vary depending on global and corporate developments that may occur now or in the future. The risk factors below identify risks relating to our industry, Company and common shares. These risks may not cover all risk factors applicable to the Company.
Risks Related to Our Industry
Charter hire rates for dry bulk vessels are volatile, have fluctuated significantly the past years and may decrease below our break-even rates in the future, which may adversely affect our earnings, revenues and profitability and our ability to comply with our loan covenants.
Substantially all of our revenues are derived from a single market, the dry bulk segment, and therefore our financial results are subject to the cyclicality of the dry bulk shipping industry and any attendant volatility in charter hire rates and profitability. The degree of charter hire rate volatility among different types of dry bulk vessels has varied widely, and time charter and spot market rates for dry bulk vessels have in the recent past declined below operating costs of vessels.
The dry bulk charter market, from which we derive and plan to continue to derive our revenues, has been extremely strong in 2021, with freight rates at decade-high levels in the start of fourth quarter of 2021 due to a combination of higher demand and supply-side inefficiencies. In January 2022, we saw spot rates fall to low levels, following normal seasonal patterns as well as impacted by the Olympic games in China, which has reduced industrial activity in the region. The rates improved in February and March 2022, however we cannot guarantee any trend towards recovery will continue, including recent hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
Charter rate fluctuations result from changes in the supply and demand for vessel capacity for the major commodities carried on water internationally. Because the factors affecting the supply and demand for vessels are outside of our control and are unpredictable, the nature, timing, direction and degree of changes in charter rates are also unpredictable. Since we charter our vessels principally in the spot market, we are exposed to the cyclicality and volatility of the spot market. Please refer to risk factor "We are dependent on spot charters and any decrease in spot charter rates in the future may adversely affect our earnings and ability to pay our dividends."
Furthermore, a significant decrease in charter rates would cause asset values to decline which may require us to record an impairment charge in our consolidated financial statements, which in turn could adversely affect our financial results. In 2020, we recorded an impairment loss of $94.2 million on our leased assets equal to the difference between the asset's carrying value and fair value, which has been recorded as a result of an impairment review performed on an asset by asset basis. In 2021, we
have not had any impairment losses on our leased assets. Further, because the market value of our vessels may fluctuate significantly, we may also incur losses when we sell vessels, which may adversely affect our earnings. If we sell vessels at a time when vessel prices have fallen and before we have recorded an impairment adjustment to our financial statements, the sale may be at less than the vessel's carrying amount in our financial statements, resulting in a loss and a reduction in earnings. For instance, during the year ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, we recorded impairment losses of $4.2 million and $0.7 million, respectively, related to sales of vessels. There were no sales of vessels in 2019.
Factors that influence demand for vessel capacity include:
•supply of and demand for energy resources, commodities, and semi-finished and finished consumer and industrial products;
•changes in the exploration or production of energy resources, commodities, and semi-finished and finished consumer and industrial products;
•the location of regional and global exploration, production and manufacturing facilities;
•the location of consuming regions for energy resources, commodities, and semi-finished and finished consumer and industrial products;
•the globalization of production and manufacturing;
•global and regional economic and political conditions, armed conflicts, including the recent conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, including developments in international trade and fluctuations in industrial and agricultural production;
•disruptions and developments in international trade;
•changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns, including the distance cargo is transported by sea;
•international sanctions, embargoes, import and export restrictions, nationalizations, piracy and terrorist attacks;
•legal and regulatory changes including regulations adopted by supranational authorities and/or industry bodies, such as safety and environmental regulations and requirements;
•weather and natural disasters;
•currency exchange rates, most importantly versus USD; and
•pandemics, such as the COVID-19 outbreak, and other diseases and viruses, affecting livestock and humans.
Demand for our dry bulk oceangoing vessels is dependent upon economic growth in the world's economies, seasonal and regional changes in demand and changes to the capacity of the global dry bulk fleet and the sources and supply of dry bulk cargo transported by sea. Continued adverse economic, political or social conditions or other developments could further negatively impact charter rates and therefore have a material adverse effect on our business results, results of operations and ability to pay dividends.
Factors that influence the supply of vessel capacity include:
•number of newbuilding orders and deliveries;
•the number of shipyards and ability of shipyards to deliver vessels;
•port and canal congestion;
•potential disruption, including supply chain disruptions, of shipping routes due to accidents or political events;
•scrapping of older vessels;
•speed of vessel operation;
•the degree of recycling of older vessels, depending, among other things, on recycling rates and international recycling
•number of vessels that are out of service, namely those that are laid-up, drydocked, awaiting repairs or otherwise not available for hire;
•availability of financing for new vessels and shipping activity;
•changes in national or international regulations that may effectively cause reductions in the carrying capacity of vessels or early obsolescence of tonnage; and
•changes in environmental and other regulations that may limit the useful lives of vessels.
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 dry bulk 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.
Further, the market may fluctuate widely based on a variety of factors including changes in overall market movements, political and economic events, wars, acts of terrorism, natural disasters (including disease, epidemics and pandemics) and changes in interest rates or inflation rates.
Global economic conditions may negatively impact the dry bulk shipping industry and we face risks attendant in economic and regulatory conditions around the world.
Major market disruptions and adverse changes in market conditions and regulatory climate in China, the United States, the European Union and worldwide may adversely affect our business or impair our ability to borrow amounts under credit facilities or any future financial arrangements.
Chinese dry bulk imports have accounted for the majority of global dry bulk transportation growth annually over the last decade. Accordingly, our financial condition and results of operations, as well as our future prospects, would likely be hindered by an economic downturn in any of these countries or geographic regions. While global economic activity levels, led by China, have improved, the outlook for China and the rest of the world remains uncertain and is highly dependent on the path of COVID-19 and measures taken by governments around the world in response to it. Global vaccination rates and effectiveness, together with the development of COVID-19 variants, could impact sustainability of this recovery, in addition to dry-bulk-specific seasonality described in further detail below. In addition, the International Monetary Fund has warned that continuing trade tensions, including significant tariff increases, between the United States and China could derail recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.
While global economic conditions have generally improved, any renewed adverse economic and governmental factors, together with the concurrent volatility in charter rates and vessel values, may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows and could cause the price of our common shares to decline. An extended period of deterioration in the outlook for the world economy could reduce the overall demand for our services and could also adversely affect our ability to obtain financing on acceptable terms or at all.
An over-supply of dry bulk vessel capacity may lead to reductions in charter hire rates, vessel values and profitability.
In the past, the supply of dry bulk vessels has outpaced vessel demand growth over the past few years, thereby causing downward pressure on charter rates. In such cases, if the supply of dry bulk vessels is not fully absorbed by the market, charter rates and value of the vessels may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, our ability to pay dividends and our compliance with current or future covenants in any of our agreements.
Risks involved with operating ocean-going vessels could result in the loss of life or harm to our seafarers, environmental accidents or otherwise affect our business and reputation, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
The operation of an ocean-going vessel carries inherent risks. These risks include the possibility of:
•loss of life or harm to seafarers;
•an accident involving a vessel resulting in damage to the asset or a total loss of the same;
•a marine disaster;
•piracy or robbery;
•cargo and property losses and damage; and
•business interruptions caused by mechanical failure, human error, war, political action in various countries, labor strikes, or adverse weather conditions.
Any of these circumstances or events could increase our costs or lower our revenues. The involvement of our vessels in an environmental disaster may harm our reputation as a safe and reliable dry bulk operator.
Political instability, terrorist or other attacks, war, international hostilities and global public health threats can affect the seaborne transportation industry, which could adversely affect our business.
We conduct most of our operations outside the United States, and our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends, if any, in the future 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.
Currently, the world economy faces a number of challenges, including trade tensions between the United States and China, stabilizing growth in China, geopolitical events such as Brexit, continuing threat of terrorist attacks around the world, continuing instability and conflicts and other recent occurrences in the Middle East, Ukraine, and in other geographic areas and countries, as well as the public health concerns stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
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 and most recently in the Black Sea in connection with the recent conflicts between Russia and Ukraine. Acts of terrorism and piracy have also affected vessels trading in regions such as the South China Sea 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 operation, cash flows and financial position.
Beginning in February of 2022, President Biden and several European leaders announced various economic sanctions against Russia in connection with the aforementioned conflicts in the Ukraine region, which may adversely impact our business. Our business could also be adversely impacted by trade tariffs, trade embargoes or other economic sanctions that limit trading activities by the United States or other countries against countries in the Middle East, Asia or elsewhere as a result of terrorist attacks, hostilities or diplomatic or political pressures. Any violations of sanctions by our charter parties, any extension or worsening of the conflict in these regions, as well as any significant sanctions resulting from the conflicts that affect, among other things, the performance of our charter party agreements specifically or the dry bulk industry more generally, may have a material adverse impact on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
In addition, public health threats, such as COVID-19, 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, Japan and South Korea, which may even become pandemics, such as the COVID-19 virus, could lead to a significant decrease of demand for the transportation of dry bulk cargoes. Such events may also adversely impact our operations, including timely rotation of our crews, the timing of completion of any outstanding or future newbuilding projects or repair works in drydock as well as the operations of our customers. Delayed rotation of crew may adversely affect the mental and physical health of our crew and the safe operation of our vessels as a consequence.
Our financial results and operations have been and may continue to be adversely affected by the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, and related governmental responses thereto.
In response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in late 2019 governments and governmental agencies around the world took numerous actions, including travel bans, quarantines, and other emergency public health measures, including lockdown measures, which resulted in a significant reduction in global economic activity and extreme volatility in the global financial markets. By 2021, however, many of these measures were relaxed and as part of a broader economic recovery, freight rates reached unprecedented levels in the year. Nonetheless, we cannot predict whether and to what degree emergency public health and other measures will be reinstituted in the event of any resurgence in the COVID-19 virus or any variants thereof. If the COVID-19 pandemic continues on a prolonged basis or becomes more severe, the adverse impact on the global economy and the rate environment for dry bulk and other cargo vessels may deteriorate further and our operations and cash flows may be negatively impacted. Relatively weak global economic conditions during periods of volatility have and may continue to have a number of adverse consequences for dry bulk and other shipping sectors, as we experienced in 2020 and we may experience in the future including, among other things:
•low charter rates, particularly for vessels employed on short-term time charters or in the spot market;
•decreases in the market value of dry bulk vessels and limited second-hand market for the sale of vessels;
•limited financing for vessels;
•loan covenant defaults; and
•declaration of bankruptcy by certain vessel operators, vessel owners, shipyards and charterers.
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 2021, 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 2021, 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.
This and future epidemics may 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. We continue to focus on our employees well-being, whilst making sure that our operations continue undisrupted and at the same time, adapting to the new ways of operating. As such employees are encouraged and in certain cases required to operate remotely which significantly increases the risk of cyber security attacks.
The occurrence or continued occurrence of any of the foregoing events or other epidemics or an increase in the severity or duration of the 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.
Changes in the economic and political environment in China and policies adopted by the government to regulate its economy may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Chinese economy differs from the economies of western countries in such respects as structure, government involvement, level of development, growth rate, capital reinvestment, allocation of resources, bank regulation, currency and monetary policy, rate of inflation and balance of payments position. Since 1978, there has been an increasing level of freedom and autonomy in areas such as allocation of resources, production, pricing and management and a gradual shift in emphasis to a ''market economy'' and enterprise reform. Many of the reforms are unprecedented or experimental and may be subject to revision, change or abolition based upon the outcome of such experiments. The level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by the failure to continue market reforms or changes to existing pro-export economic policies. For example, China imposes a tax for non-resident international transportation enterprises engaged in the provision of services of passengers or cargo, among other items, in and out of China using their own, chartered or leased vessels. The regulation may subject international transportation companies to Chinese enterprise income tax on profits generated from international transportation services passing through Chinese ports. This tax or similar regulations, such as the recently promoted environmental taxes on coal, by China may result in an increase in the cost of raw materials imported to China and the risks associated with importing raw materials to China, as well as a decrease in any raw materials shipped from our charterers to China. This 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. The level of imports to and exports from China may also be adversely affected by changes in political, economic and social conditions (including a slowing of economic growth) or other relevant policies of the Chinese government, such as changes in laws, regulations or export and import restrictions, internal political instability, changes in currency policies, changes in trade policies and territorial or trade disputes. In recent years, China and the United States have implemented certain increasingly protective trade measures with continuing trade tensions, including significant tariff increases, between these countries. Although the United States and China successfully reached an interim trade deal in January 2020 that de-escalated the trade tensions with both sides rolling back tariffs, the extent to which the trade deal will be successfully implemented is unpredictable. A decrease in the level of imports to and exports from China could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.
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 coal, an overall increase in the use of nonrenewable energy as part of the energy consumption mix and through other means and any reduction in the demand for coal and related products could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flows and results of operations.
We conduct a substantial amount of business in China. The legal system in China has inherent uncertainties that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Chinese legal system is based on written statutes and their legal interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Prior court decisions may be cited for reference but have limited precedential value. Since 1979, the Chinese government has been developing a comprehensive system of commercial laws dealing with economic matters such as foreign investment, corporate organization and governance, commerce, taxation and trade. However, because these laws and regulations are relatively new, there is a general lack of internal guidelines or authoritative interpretive guidance and because of the limited number of published cases and their non-binding nature, interpretation and enforcement of these laws and regulations involve uncertainties. Any administrative and court proceedings in China may be protracted, resulting in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. Since Chinese administrative and court authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory and contractual terms, it may be more difficult to evaluate the outcome of administrative and court proceedings and the level of legal protection we enjoy than in more developed legal systems.
To the extent our charters, shipbuilding contracts and financing agreements that are governed by English law, if we are required to commence legal proceedings against a customer, a shipbuilder or a lender based in China, we may have difficulties in enforcing any judgment rendered by an English court (or other non-Chinese court) in China.
Changes in laws and regulations, including with regards to tax matters, and their implementation by local authorities could affect our vessels that are either chartered to Chinese customers or that call to Chinese ports and our vessels that undergo drydocking, or to which we install scrubbers, at Chinese shipyards, and the financial institutions with whom we have entered into financing agreements, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
If our vessels may call at ports located in countries or territories that are the subject of sanctions or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government, the European Union, the United Nations or other governmental authorities, it could lead to monetary fines or penalties and adversely affect our reputation and the market for our shares of common stock and its trading price.
None of our vessels called on ports located in countries or territories that are the subject of country-wide or territory-wide sanctions or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government or other applicable governmental authorities (“Sanctioned Jurisdictions”) in 2021 in violation of applicable sanctions or embargo laws. Although we intend to maintain compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws during 2021, and we endeavor to take precautions reasonably designed to mitigate such risks, it is possible that in the future our vessels may call on ports located in Sanctioned Jurisdictions on charterers’ instructions and/or without our consent. If such activities result in a violation of sanctions or embargo laws, we could be subject to monetary fines, penalties, or other sanctions, and our reputation and the market for our common shares could be adversely affected.
The applicable 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 expanded 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 United States, EU and 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.
Although we believe that we have been in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations in 2021, and intend to maintain such compliance, there can be no assurance that we will be in compliance in the future, particularly as the scope of certain laws may be unclear and may be subject to changing interpretations. Any such violation 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 or territories 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 common shares may adversely affect the price at which our common shares trade. 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. Investor perception of the value of our common shares may be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in countries or territories that we operate in.
Compliance with safety and other vessel requirements imposed by classification societies may require additional investments and could reduce our net cash flows and net income.
A classification society authorized by the country of registry of a commercial vessel must certify such vessel as being "in class" and safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and the Safety of Life at Sea Convention. Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage and lending that a vessel be certified “in class” by a classification society which is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies, the IACS. The IACS has adopted harmonized Common Structural Rules, or “the Rules,” which apply to oil tankers and bulk carriers contracted for construction on or after July 1, 2015. The Rules attempt to create a level of consistency between IACS Societies. All of our vessels are certified as being “in class” by all the applicable Classification Societies (e.g., American Bureau of Shipping, Lloyd's Register of Shipping).
Additionally a vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys, drydockings and special surveys. Alternatively, a vessel's machinery may be placed on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period. We expect our vessels to be on special survey cycles for hull inspection and continuous survey cycles for machinery inspection.
Every vessel is also required to be drydocked every 30 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater parts of the vessel. If any vessel does not maintain its class and/or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey, drydocking or special survey, the vessel will be unable to carry cargo between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable which could cause us to be in violation of certain covenants in our loan agreements. Any such inability to carry cargo or be employed, or any such violation of covenants, could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Compliance with the above requirements may require significant additional investments by us. If any vessel does not maintain its class or fails any annual, intermediate or special survey or drydocking, the vessel will be unable to trade between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable, which could cause us to be in violation of certain covenants in our loan agreements. Any such inability to carry cargo or be employed, or any such violation of covenants, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.
Increasing scrutiny and changing expectations from investors, lenders and other market participants with respect to our ESG 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. Additionally, 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. Certain investors and lenders may exclude transportation companies, such as us, from their investing portfolios altogether due to environmental, social and governance factors. 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, costs related to litigation, and the business, financial condition, and/or stock price of such a company could be materially and adversely affected.
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.
Many environmental requirements are designed to reduce the risk of pollution and our compliance with these requirements could be costly. For example, Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships (“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 As of March 23, 2022, 23 of our vessels have been equipped with scrubbers to comply with this change in regulation ("Scrubber Program") and as of January 1, 2020, we have transitioned to burning IMO compliant fuels in our non-scrubber equipped vessels as necessary.
In addition, regulations relating to ballast water discharge may adversely affect our revenues and profitability. 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 (the "IOPP") renewal survey, existing vessels constructed before September 8, 2017, must comply with the updated D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019. For most vessels, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms. Ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017 are to comply with the D-2 standards upon delivery. We currently have 10 vessels in our fleet constructed prior to September 8, 2017 that do not have ballast water management systems installed and will need such systems installed on the first upcoming IOPP renewal in order to be D-2 compliant. Costs in order to become D-2 compliant for these vessels is estimated to be approximately $8.0 million in total.
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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) develop national standards of performance for approximately 30 discharges, similar to those found in the VPG 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. Within two years after the EPA publishes its final Vessel Incidental Discharge National Standards of Performance, 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.
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 Safety Management Code (the “ISM Code”). The ISM Code requires shipowners, ship managers and bareboat charterers to develop and maintain an extensive "Safety Management System" that includes the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for safe operation and describing procedures for dealing with emergencies. If we fail to comply with the ISM Code, we may be subject to increased liability, or 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 (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 quasi-governmental agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses, certificates, and financial assurances with respect to our operations.
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 (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, 17 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 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.
Maritime claimants could arrest or attach one or more of our vessels, which could interrupt our customers' or our cash flows.
Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers of cargo 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 judicial or foreclosure proceedings. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels could interrupt the cash flow of the charterer and/or our cash flow and require us to pay a significant amount of money to have the arrest lifted, which would have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, in jurisdictions where the "sister ship" theory of liability applies, such as South Africa, a claimant may arrest the vessel that is subject to the claimant's maritime lien and any "associated" vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner. In countries with "sister ship" liability laws, claims may be asserted against us or any of our vessels for liabilities of other vessels that we own.
Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency resulting in a loss of earnings.
A government of a vessel's registry could requisition for title or seize one or more of our vessels. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes the owner. Such government could also requisition one or more of 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 could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.
Risks Related to Our Business
The market values of our vessels may decline, which could limit the amount of funds that we can borrow, cause us to breach certain financial covenants in our credit facilities, or result in an impairment charge, and cause us to incur a loss if we sell vessels following a decline in their market value.
The fair market values of dry bulk vessels, including our vessels, have generally experienced high volatility and may decline in the future. The fair market value of vessels may increase and decrease depending on but not limited to the following factors:
•general economic and market conditions affecting the shipping industry;
•the balance between the supply of and demand for ships of a certain type;
•competition from other shipping companies;
•the availability of ships of the required size and design;
•the availability of other modes of transportations;
•cost of newbuildings;
•governmental or other regulations;
•changes in environmental and other regulations that may limit the useful lives of vessels;
•distressed asset sales, including newbuilding contract sales below acquisition costs due to lack of financing;
•types, sizes and ages of vessels;
•prevailing level of charter rates;
•the need to upgrade secondhand and previously owned vessels as a result of charterer requirements, and
•technological advances in vessel design or equipment or otherwise.
During the period a vessel is subject to a charter, we might not be permitted to sell it to take advantage of increases in vessel values without the charterer's consent. If we sell a vessel at a time when ship prices have fallen, the sale may be at less than the vessel's carrying amount in our financial statements, with the result that we could incur a loss and a reduction in earnings. During the year ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, we recorded impairment losses of $4.2 million and $0.7 million, respectively, related to the sales of vessels. There were no sales of vessels in 2019. The carrying values of our owned and leased vessels are reviewed quarterly or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the vessel may no longer be recoverable. We assess recoverability of the carrying value by estimating the future net cash flows expected to result from the vessel, including eventual disposal for owned vessels. If the future net undiscounted cash flows and the estimated fair market value of the vessel are less than the carrying value, an impairment loss is recorded equal to the difference between the vessel's carrying value and fair value. In 2020, we recorded an impairment loss of $94.2 million on our leased vessels equal to the difference between the asset's carrying value and fair value, which was recorded as a result of an impairment review performed on an asset by asset basis. Any impairment charges incurred as a result of declines in charter rates and other market deterioration could negatively affect our business, financial condition or operating results or the trading price of our common shares.
Conversely, if vessel values are elevated at a time when we wish to acquire additional vessels, the cost of acquisition may increase and this could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flow and financial condition.
We are dependent on spot charterers and any decrease in spot charter rates in the future may adversely affect our earnings and ability to pay dividends.
As of December 31, 2021, 84 of the 92 vessels, which are owned, leased or chartered-in by us, were employed in the spot market or on short-term or variable time rate charters, and we are therefore exposed to fluctuations in spot market charter rates. We may also employ any additional vessels that we acquire to take delivery of in the spot market.
Although the number of vessels in our fleet that participate in the spot market will vary from time to time, we anticipate that a significant portion of our fleet will participate in this market. As a result, our financial performance will be significantly affected by conditions in the dry bulk spot market and only our vessels that operate under fixed-rate time charters may, during the period such vessels operate under such time charters, provide a fixed source of revenue to us.
Historically, the dry bulk markets have been volatile as a result of the many conditions and factors that can affect the price, supply of and demand for dry bulk capacity. Weak global economic trends may further reduce demand for transportation of dry bulk cargoes over longer distances, which may materially affect our revenues, profitability and cash flows. The spot market may fluctuate significantly based upon supply of and demand for vessels and cargoes. The successful operation of our vessels in the competitive spot market depends upon, 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 volatile and there have been periods when spot rates have declined below the operating cost of vessels. If future spot market rates decline, then we may be unable to operate our vessels trading in the spot market profitably, or meet our obligations, including payments on indebtedness, or to 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 the charters on our vessels on the expiration or termination of our current charters, or on vessels that we may acquire in the future, or the charter rates payable under any replacement charters and vessel values will depend upon, among other things, economic conditions in the sectors in which our vessels operate at that time, changes in the supply and demand for vessel capacity and changes in the supply and demand for the seaborne transportation of energy resources.
Our credit facilities impose operating and financial restrictions, which could significantly limit our ability to execute our business strategy and increase the risk of default under our debt obligations.
As of December 31, 2021, we had $1,273.7 million of outstanding indebtedness under our credit facilities and debt securities, of which $105.9 million was classified as current portion of long-term debt. We cannot assure you that we will be able to generate
cash flow in amounts that is sufficient to satisfy these obligations. If we are not able to satisfy these obligations, we may have to undertake alternative financing plans or sell our assets. In addition, debt service payments under our credit facilities may limit funds otherwise available for working capital, capital expenditures, payment of cash distributions and other purposes. If we are unable to meet our debt obligations, or if we otherwise default under our credit facilities, our lenders could declare the debt, together with accrued interest and fees, to be immediately due and payable and foreclose on our fleet, which could result in the acceleration of other indebtedness that we may have at such time and the commencement of similar foreclosure proceedings by other lenders
Our credit facilities impose operating and financial restrictions on us that limit our ability, or the ability of our subsidiaries party thereto, as applicable, to:
•pay dividends and make capital expenditures if there is an event of default under our credit facilities;
•incur additional indebtedness, including the issuance of guarantees, or refinance or prepay any indebtedness, unless certain conditions exist;
•create liens on our assets, unless otherwise permitted under our credit facilities;
•change the flag, class or management of our vessels or terminate or materially amend the management agreement relating to each vessel;
•merge or consolidate with, or transfer all or substantially all our assets to, another person; or
•enter into a new line of business.
In addition, our loan agreements, which are secured by liens on our vessels, contain various financial covenants. Among those covenants are requirements that relate to our financial position, operating performance and liquidity. For example, there are financial covenants that require us to maintain (i) an equity ratio fixing a minimum value of adjusted equity that is based, in part, upon the market value of the vessels securing the loans, (ii) minimum levels of free cash, (iii) positive working capital, and (iv) a minimum value, or loan-to-value, covenant, which could require us to post collateral or prepay a portion of the outstanding borrowings should the value of the vessels securing borrowings decrease below a required level.
Our ability to comply with the covenants and restrictions contained in our current or future credit facilities may be affected by events beyond our control, including prevailing economic, financial and industry conditions, interest rate developments, changes in the funding costs of our banks and changes in vessel earnings and asset valuations. If market or other economic conditions deteriorate, our ability to comply with these covenants may be impaired. For example, the market value of dry bulk vessels is likewise sensitive to, among other things, changes in the dry bulk market, with vessel values deteriorating in times when dry bulk rates are falling or anticipated to fall and improving when charter rates are rising or anticipated to rise. Such conditions may result in us not being in compliance with our loan covenants. In such a situation, unless our lenders are willing to provide further waivers of covenant compliance or modifications to our covenants, or would be willing to refinance our indebtedness, we may have to sell vessels in our fleet and/or seek to raise additional capital in the equity markets in order to comply with our loan covenants. Furthermore, if the value of our vessels deteriorates significantly, we may have to record an impairment adjustment in our financial statements, which would adversely affect our financial results and further hinder our ability to raise capital. The fair market values of our vessels may decline, which could limit the amount of funds that we can borrow, cause us to breach certain financial covenants in our credit facilities, or result in an impairment charge, and cause us to incur a loss if we sell vessels following a decline in their market value.
If we are not in compliance with our covenants and are not able to obtain covenant waivers or modifications, our lenders could require us to post additional collateral, enhance our equity and liquidity, increase our interest payments, pay down our indebtedness to a level where we are in compliance with our loan covenants, sell vessels in our fleet, or they could accelerate our indebtedness, any of which would impair our ability to continue to conduct our business. If our indebtedness is accelerated, we might not be able to refinance our debt or obtain additional financing and could lose our vessels if our lenders foreclose on their liens. In addition, if we find it necessary to sell our vessels at a time when vessel prices are low, we will recognize losses and a reduction in our earnings, which could affect our ability to raise additional capital necessary for us to comply with our loan agreements.
Furthermore, certain of our credit facilities contain a cross-default provision that may be triggered by a default under one of our other credit facilities. A cross-default provision means that a default on one loan would result in a default on certain of our other loans. Because of the presence of cross-default provisions in certain of our credit facilities, the refusal of any one lender under our credit facilities to grant or extend a waiver could result in certain of our indebtedness being accelerated, even if our other lenders under our credit facilities have waived covenant defaults under the respective credit facilities. If our secured indebtedness is accelerated in full or in part, it would be very difficult for us to refinance our debt or obtain additional financing and we could lose our vessels securing our credit facilities if our lenders foreclose their liens, which would adversely affect our ability to conduct our business.
Also, any contemplated vessel acquisitions will have to be at levels that do not impair the required ratios set out above. The global economic downturn that occurred within the past several years had an adverse effect on vessel values, which may occur again if an economic slowdown arises in the future. If the estimated asset values of the vessels in our fleet decrease, such decreases may limit the amounts we can draw down under our future credit facilities to purchase additional vessels and our ability to expand our fleet. In addition, we may be obligated to prepay part of our outstanding debt in order to remain in compliance with the relevant covenants in our current or future credit facilities. If funds under our current or future credit facilities become unavailable as a result of a breach of our covenants or otherwise, we may not be able to perform our business strategy, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to pay dividends.
Technological innovation and quality and efficiency requirements from our customers could reduce our charter hire income and the value of our vessels.
Our customers have a high and increasing focus on quality and compliance standards with their suppliers across the entire supply chain, including the shipping and transportation segment. Our continued compliance with these standards and quality requirements is vital for our operations. The charter hire 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. We face competition from companies with more modern vessels with more fuel efficient designs than our vessels, or eco vessels, and if new dry bulk vessels are built that are more efficient or more flexible or have longer physical lives than the current eco vessels, competition from the current eco vessels and any more technologically advanced vessels could adversely affect the amount of charter hire payments we receive for our vessels and the resale value of our vessels could significantly decrease. Similarly, technologically advanced vessels are needed to comply with environmental laws the investment in which along with the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, charter hire payments and resale value of vessels. This could have an adverse effect on our results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.
We may be unable to successfully compete with other vessel operators for charters, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial position.
The operation of dry bulk vessels and transportation of dry bulk cargoes is extremely competitive. Competition for the transportation of dry bulk cargoes by sea is intense and depends on price, location, size, age, condition and the acceptability of the vessel and its operators to the charterers. Through our operating subsidiaries, we compete with other vessel owners, and, to a lesser extent, owners of other size vessels. The dry bulk market is highly fragmented. Due in part to the highly fragmented market, competitors with greater resources could enter the dry bulk shipping industry and operate larger fleets through consolidations or acquisitions and may be able to offer lower charter rates and higher quality vessels than we are able to offer. As a result, we cannot assure you that we will be successful in finding continued timely employment of our existing vessels, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial position.
We are subject to certain risks with respect to our counterparties on contracts, and failure of such counterparties to meet their obligations could cause us to suffer losses or otherwise adversely affect our business.
We have entered, and may enter in the future, into various contracts, including charter parties with our customers, loan agreements with our lenders, and vessel management, pooling arrangements, newbuilding contracts and other agreements with other entities, which subject us to counterparty risks. The ability of each of the counterparties to perform its obligations under a contract with us or contracts entered into on our behalf 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 shipping sector, the overall financial condition of the counterparty, charter rates received for our vessels and the supply and demand for commodities. Should a counterparty fail to honor its obligations under any such contract, we could sustain significant losses which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Charterers are sensitive to the commodity markets and may be impacted by market forces affecting commodities. In addition, in depressed market conditions, charterers may have incentive to renegotiate their charters or default on their obligations under charters. Should a charterer in the future fail to honor its obligations under agreements with us, it may be difficult to secure substitute employment for such vessel, and any new charter arrangements we secure on the spot market or on charters may be at lower rates, depending on the then existing charter rate levels, compared to the rates currently being charged for our vessels. In
addition, if the charterer of a vessel in our fleet that is used as collateral under one or more of our loan agreements defaults on its charter obligations to us, such default may constitute an event of default under our loan agreements, which may allow the bank to exercise remedies under our loan agreements. If our charterers fail to meet their obligations to us or attempt to renegotiate our charter agreements, we could sustain significant losses which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and compliance with covenants in our loan agreements.
Volatility of LIBOR and potential changes of the use of LIBOR as a benchmark could affect our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
As certain of our current financing agreements have, and our future financing arrangements may have, floating interest rates, typically based on LIBOR, movements in interest rates could negatively affect our financial performance. The publication of U.S. Dollar LIBOR for the one-week and two-month U.S. Dollar LIBOR tenors ceased on December 31, 2021, and the ICE Benchmark Administration (“IBA”), the administrator of LIBOR, with the support of the United States Federal Reserve and the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, announced the publication of all other U.S. Dollar LIBOR tenors will cease on June 30, 2023. The United States Federal Reserve concurrently issued a statement advising banks to cease issuing U.S. Dollar LIBOR instruments after 2021. As such, any new loan agreements we enter into will not use LIBOR as an interest rate, and we will need to transition our existing loan agreements from U.S. Dollar LIBOR to an alternative reference rate prior to June 2023.
In response to the anticipated discontinuation of LIBOR, working groups are converging on alternative reference rates. The Alternative Reference Rate Committee, a committee convened by the Federal Reserve that includes major market participants, has proposed an alternative rate to replace U.S. Dollar LIBOR: the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or “SOFR”. At this time, it is not possible to predict how markets will respond to SOFR or other alternative reference rates. The impact of such a transition from LIBOR to SOFR or another alternative reference rate could be significant for us.
In order to manage our exposure to interest rate fluctuations under LIBOR, SOFR or any other alternative rate, we have and 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. Interest rate derivatives may also be impacted by the transition from LIBOR to SOFR or other alternative rates.
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 in anticipation of the cessation of LIBOR. These clauses present significant uncertainties as to how alternative reference 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, such as SOFR, and any credit adjustment spread between the two benchmarks. 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 risks to our business, including volatility in applicable interest rates among our financing agreements, potential increased borrowing 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.
Certain of our directors, executive officers and major shareholders may have interests that are different from the interests of our other shareholders.
Certain of our directors, executive officers and major shareholders may have interests that are different from, or are in addition to, the interests of our other shareholders. In particular, Hemen Holding Limited ("Hemen") and certain related companies whose shares are indirectly held by trusts settled by Mr. Fredriksen, our director, for the benefit of his family beneficially own approximately 39.2% of our issued and outstanding common shares as of March 23, 2022.
Hemen is also a principal shareholder of a number of other large publicly traded companies involved in various sectors of the shipping and oil services industries (the "Hemen Related Companies"). In addition, certain of our directors, including Mr. Lorentzon, Mr. Fredriksen, Mr. O'Shaughnessy, Mr. Svelland and Mr. Jensen, also serve on the boards of one or more of the Hemen Related Companies, including but not limited to, Frontline Ltd. (NYSE:FRO) ("Frontline"), SFL Corporation Ltd. (NYSE:SFL) ("SFL"), Archer Limited (OSE:ARCHER) ("Archer"), Avance Gas Holding Ltd. (OSE:AGAS) ("Avance"), ST Energy Transition 1 Ltd. (NASDAQ: STET) (''ST ENERGY'') and Flex LNG Ltd. (OSE:FLNG) ("FLEX"). There may be real or apparent conflicts of interest with respect to matters affecting Hemen and other Hemen Related Companies whose interests in some circumstances may be adverse to our interests.
To the extent that we do business with or compete with other Hemen Related Companies for business opportunities, prospects or financial resources, or participate in ventures in which other Hemen Related Companies may participate, these directors and officers may face actual or apparent conflicts of interest in connection with decisions that could have different implications for us. These decisions may relate to corporate opportunities, corporate strategies, potential acquisitions of businesses, newbuilding acquisitions, inter-company agreements, the issuance or disposition of securities, the election of new or additional directors and other matters. Such potential conflicts may delay or limit the opportunities available to us, and it is possible that conflicts may be resolved in a manner adverse to us or result in agreements that are less favorable to us than terms that would be obtained in arm's-length negotiations with unaffiliated third-parties.
For so long as Hemen owns a significant percentage of our outstanding ordinary shares, it may be able to exercise significant influence over us and will be able to strongly influence the outcome of shareholder votes on other matters, including the adoption or amendment of provisions in our articles of incorporation or bye-laws and approval of possible mergers, amalgamations, control transactions and other significant corporate transactions. This concentration of ownership may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control, merger, amalgamations, consolidation, takeover or other business combination. This concentration of ownership could also discourage a potential acquirer from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us, which could in turn have an adverse effect on the market price of our ordinary shares. Hemen, may not necessarily act in accordance with the best interests of other shareholders. The interests of Hemen may not coincide with the interests of other holders of our ordinary shares. To the extent that conflicts of interests may arise, Hemen may vote in a manner adverse to us or to you or other holders of our securities.
The increased costs associated with operating and maintaining secondhand vessels could adversely affect our earnings.
In general, the costs to operate and maintain a vessel in good operating condition increase with the age of the vessel. As of the date of this annual report, the average age of our dry bulk vessel fleet is approximately 6.9 years. In February 2022, we entered into an agreement to sell en-bloc three older Panamax vessels, Golden Empress, Golden Enterprise and Golden Endeavour. After this sale, the average age of our dry bulk fleet is estimated to be approximately 6.8 years. As our fleet ages, we will incur increased costs. Older vessels are typically less fuel efficient than more recently constructed vessels due to improvements in engine and hull technology. Governmental regulations, safety and other equipment standards related to the age of vessels may require expenditures for alterations or the addition of new equipment to some of our vessels and may restrict the type of activities in which these vessels may engage. We cannot assure you that, as our vessels age, market conditions will justify those expenditures or enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of their useful lives. As a result, regulations and standards could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends.
Delays or defaults by the shipyards in the construction of our newbuildings could increase our expenses and diminish our net income and cash flows.
As of December 31, 2021, we had contracts for seven newbuilding vessels. Vessel construction projects are generally subject to risks of delay that are inherent in any large construction project, which may be caused by numerous factors, including shortages of equipment, materials or skilled labor, unscheduled delays in the delivery of ordered materials and equipment or shipyard construction, failure of equipment to meet quality and/or performance standards, financial or operating difficulties experienced by equipment vendors or the shipyard, unanticipated actual or purported change orders, inability to obtain required permits or approvals, design or engineering changes and work stoppages and other labor disputes, adverse weather conditions or any other events of force majeure. Significant delays could adversely affect our financial position, results of operations and cash flows. Additionally, failure to complete a project on time may result in the delay of revenue from that vessel, and we will continue to incur costs and expenses related to delayed vessels, such as supervision expense and interest expense for the issued and outstanding debt.
Changes in the price of fuel, or bunkers, may adversely affect our profits.
Since we primarily employ our vessels in the spot market, we expect that fuel, or bunkers, will typically be the largest expense in our shipping operations for our vessels. While we believe that we can transfer increased cost to the customer, and will experience a competitive advantage as a result of increased bunker prices due to the greater fuel efficiency of our vessels compared to the average global fleet, 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 Petroleum Exporting Countries (the "OPEC"), and other oil and gas producers, war and unrest in oil producing countries and regions, regional production patterns and environmental concerns. Any future increase in the cost of fuel may reduce the profitability and competitiveness of our business versus other forms of transportation, such as truck or rail.
In addition, if the recent sharp increase in crude oil prices and widening of the spread between the prices of high sulfur fuel and low sulfur fuel resulting from conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues, this might lead to a decrease in the economic viability of older vessels that lack fuel efficiency and a reduction of useful lives of these vessels.
Operational risks and damage to our vessels could adversely impact our performance.
Our vessels and their cargoes are 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, labor strikes, boycotts and other circumstances or events. These hazards may result in death or injury to persons, loss of revenues or property, the payment of ransoms, environmental damage, higher insurance rates, damage to our customer relationships and market disruptions, delay or rerouting. Epidemics and other public health incidents may also lead to crew member illness, which can disrupt the operations of our vessels, or to public health measures, which may prevent our vessels from calling on ports or discharging cargo in the affected areas or in other locations after having visited the affected areas. Please also see "Our financial results and operations have been and may continue to be adversely affected by the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, and related governmental responses thereto,"
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 at all or 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 relative 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 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 cash flows.
The operation of dry bulk vessels has certain unique operational risks. With a dry bulk vessel, the cargo itself and its interaction with the ship can be a risk factor. By their nature, dry bulk cargoes are often heavy, dense and easily shifted, and react badly to water exposure. In addition, dry bulk vessels are often subjected to battering treatment during unloading operations with grabs, jackhammers (to pry encrusted cargoes out of the hold), and small bulldozers. This treatment may cause damage to the dry bulk vessel. Dry bulk vessels damaged due to treatment during unloading procedures may be more susceptible to a breach at sea. Hull breaches in dry bulk vessels may lead to the flooding of their holds. If flooding occurs in the forward holds, the bulk cargo may become so waterlogged that the vessel's bulkheads may buckle under the resulting pressure leading to the loss of the dry bulk vessel. These risks may also impact the risk of loss of life or harm to our crew.
If we are unable to adequately maintain or safeguard our vessels, we may be unable to prevent these events. Any of these circumstances or events could negatively impact our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, the loss of any of our vessels could harm our crew and our reputation as a safe and reliable vessel owner and operator.
We rely on our and our ship managers' information systems to conduct our business, and failure to protect these systems against security breaches could adversely affect our business and results of operations, including on our vessels. Additionally, if these systems fail or become unavailable for any significant period of time, our business could be harmed.
The safety and security of our vessels and efficient operation of our business, including processing, transmitting and storing electronic and financial information, depend on computer hardware and software systems, which are increasingly vulnerable to security breaches and other disruptions. Any significant interruption or failure of our information systems or any significant breach of security could adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Our vessels rely on information systems for a significant part of their operations, including navigation, provision of services, propulsion, machinery management, power control, communications and cargo management. We have in place safety and security measures on our vessels and onshore operations to secure our vessels against cyber-security attacks and any disruption to their information systems. However, these measures and technology may not adequately prevent security breaches despite our continuous efforts to upgrade and address the latest known threats, which are constantly evolving and have become
increasing sophisticated. If these threats are not recognized or detected until they have been launched, we may be unable to anticipate these threats and may not become aware in a timely manner of such a security breach, which could exacerbate any damage we experience. A disruption to the information system of any of our vessels could lead to, among other things, incorrect routing, collision, grounding and propulsion failure.
Beyond our vessels, we rely on industry accepted security measures and technology to securely maintain confidential and proprietary information maintained on our information systems. However, these measures and technology may not adequately prevent security breaches. The technology and other controls and processes designed to secure our confidential and proprietary information, detect and remedy any unauthorized access to that information were designed to obtain reasonable, but not absolute, assurance that such information is secure and that any unauthorized access is identified and addressed appropriately. Such controls may in the future fail to prevent or detect unauthorized access to our confidential and proprietary information. In addition, the foregoing events could result in violations of applicable privacy and other laws. If confidential information is inappropriately accessed and used by a third party or an employee for illegal purposes, we may be responsible to the affected individuals for any losses they may have incurred as a result of misappropriation. In such an instance, we may also be subject to regulatory action, investigation or liable to a governmental authority for fines or penalties associated with a lapse in the integrity and security of our information systems.
We may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to protect against and remedy any potential or existing security breaches and their consequences. A cyber-attack could also lead to litigation, fines, other remedial action, heightened regulatory scrutiny and diminished customer confidence. In addition, our remediation efforts may not be successful and we may not have adequate insurance to cover these losses.
The unavailability of the information systems or the failure of these systems to perform as anticipated for any reason could disrupt our business and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.
Moreover, cyber-attacks against the Ukrainian government and other countries in the region have been reported in connection with the recent conflicts between Russia and Ukraine. To the extent such attacks have collateral effects on global critical infrastructure or financial institutions, such developments could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition. At this time, it is difficult to assess the likelihood of such threat and any potential impact.
Increased inspection procedures, tighter import and export controls and new security regulations could increase costs and cause disruption of our business.
International shipping is subject to security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin, destination and trans-shipment points. Under the U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard issued regulations requiring the implementation of certain security requirements aboard vessels operating in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and at certain ports and facilities. These security procedures can result in delays in the loading, offloading or trans-shipment and the levying of customs duties, fines or other penalties against exporters or importers and, in some cases, carriers. Future changes to the existing security procedures may be implemented that could affect the dry bulk sector. These changes have the potential to impose additional financial and legal obligations on carriers and, in certain cases, to render the shipment of certain types of goods uneconomical or impractical. These additional costs could reduce the volume of goods shipped, resulting in a decreased demand for vessels and have a negative effect on our business, revenues and customer relations.
Failure to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act could result in fines, criminal penalties 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 business conduct and ethics which is consistent and in full compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (the "FCPA"), and other anti-bribery legislation. 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 in violation of such anti-corruption laws, including FCPA. Any such violation could result in substantial fines, sanctions, civil and/or criminal penalties, curtailment of operations in certain jurisdictions, and might adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition. In addition, actual or alleged violations could damage our reputation and ability to do business. Furthermore, detecting, investigating, and resolving actual or alleged violations is expensive and can consume significant time and attention of our senior management. Though we have implemented monitoring procedures and required policies, guidelines, contractual terms and audits, these measures may not prevent or detect failures by our agents or intermediaries regarding compliance.
We may be subject to litigation that, if not resolved in our favor and not sufficiently insured against, could have a material adverse effect on us.
We may be, from time to time, involved in various litigation matters. These matters may include, among other things, contract disputes, shareholder litigation, personal injury claims, environmental claims or proceedings, asbestos and other toxic tort claims, employment matters, governmental claims for taxes or duties, and other litigation that arises in the ordinary course of our business. Although we intend to defend these matters vigorously, we cannot predict with certainty the outcome or effect of any claim or other litigation matter, and the ultimate outcome of any litigation or the potential costs to resolve them may have a material adverse effect on us. Insurance may not be applicable or sufficient in all cases and/or insurers may not remain solvent which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.
We may not have adequate insurance to compensate us if our vessels are damaged or lost.
In the event of a casualty to a vessel or other catastrophic event, we rely on our insurance to pay the insured value of the vessel or the damages incurred. We procure insurance for our fleet against those risks that we believe companies in the shipping industry commonly insure. These insurances include hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance, including environmental damage and pollution insurance coverage, freight, demurrage and defense insurance and war risk insurance. We can give no assurance that we will be adequately insured against all risks and we cannot guarantee that any particular claim will be paid, even if we have previously recorded a receivable or revenue in respect of such claim. Our insurance policies may contain deductibles for which we will be responsible and limitations and exclusions, which may increase our costs or lower our revenues.
We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage for our vessels in the future or renew our existing policies on the same or commercially reasonable terms, or at all. For example, more stringent environmental regulations have in the past led to increased costs for, and in the future may result in the lack of availability of, protection and indemnity insurance against risks of environmental damage or pollution. Any uninsured or underinsured loss could harm our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends. In addition, our insurance may be voidable by the insurers as a result of certain of our actions, such as our vessels failing to maintain certification with applicable maritime self-regulatory organizations. Further, we cannot assure you that our insurance policies will cover all losses that we incur, or that disputes over insurance claims will not arise with our insurance carriers. Any claims covered by insurance would be subject to deductibles, and since it is possible that a large number of claims may be brought, the aggregate amount of these deductibles could be material. In addition, our insurance policies may be subject to limitations and exclusions, which may increase our costs or lower our revenues, thereby possibly having a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition and ability to pay dividends.
We may be subject to calls because we obtain some of our insurance through protection and indemnity associations.
We may be subject to increased premium payments, or calls, if the value of our claim records, the claim records of our fleet managers, and/or 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) significantly exceed projected claims. 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 ability to pay dividends.
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" ("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 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 are or that we have been or 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 and voyage chartering activities as services income, rather than rental income. Accordingly, we believe that our income from these activities does not constitute "passive income", and the assets that we own and operate in connection with the production of that income do not constitute assets that produce, or are held for the production of, "passive income".
Although there is no direct legal authority under the PFIC rules addressing our method of operation there is substantial legal authority supporting our position consisting of case law and the United States Internal Revenue Service (the "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 our 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 there were to be changes in the nature and extent of our operations.
If the IRS were to find that we are or have been a PFIC for any taxable year, our United States shareholders will face adverse United States federal income tax consequences. Under the PFIC rules, unless those shareholders make an election available under United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Code") (which election could itself have adverse consequences for such shareholders, as discussed below under "Taxation-United States Federal Income Tax Considerations"), such shareholders would be liable to pay United States federal income tax at the then prevailing income tax rates on ordinary income plus interest upon excess distributions and upon any gain from the disposition of our common shares, as if the excess distribution or gain had been recognized ratably over the shareholder's holding period of our common shares.
We may not qualify for an exemption under Section 883 of the Code, and may therefore have to pay tax on United States source income, which would reduce our earnings.
Under the Code, 50% of the gross shipping income of a vessel owning or chartering corporation, such as ourselves and our subsidiaries, 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 deduction, unless that corporation qualifies for exemption from tax under Section 883 of the Code and the applicable Treasury Regulations promulgated thereunder.
We believe that we and each of our subsidiaries qualified for this statutory tax exemption for our taxable year ending on December 31, 2021 and we will take this position 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 for future taxable years and thereby become subject to United States federal income tax on our United States source shipping income. For example, we would no longer qualify for exemption under Section 883 of the Code for a particular taxable year if certain non-qualified shareholders with a 5% or greater interest in our common shares owned, in the aggregate, 50% or more of our outstanding common shares for more than half the days during the taxable year. It is possible that we could be subject to this rule for our taxable year ending on or after December 31, 2022. Due to the factual nature of the issues involved, there can be no assurances on our tax-exempt status or that of any of our subsidiaries.
If we or our subsidiaries are not entitled to exemption under Section 883 of the Code for any taxable year, we, or our subsidiaries, could be subject during those years to an effective 2% United States federal income tax on gross shipping income derived during such a year that 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. However, the amount of our shipping income that would be subject to this tax has historically not been material.
Because our offices and most of our assets are outside the United States, you may not be able to bring suit against us, or enforce a judgment obtained against us in the United States.
Our executive offices, administrative activities and the majority of our assets are located outside the United States. In addition, most of our directors and officers are not United States residents. As a result, it may be more difficult for investors to effect service of process within the United States upon us, or to enforce both in the United States and outside the United States judgments against us in any action, including actions predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the United States federal securities laws.
As an exempted company incorporated under Bermuda law, our operations may be subject to economic substance requirements.
The Economic Substance Act 2018 and the Economic Substance Regulations 2018 of Bermuda (the ''Economic Substance Act'' and the ''Economic Substance Regulations'' respectively) became operative on December 31, 2018. The Economic Substance Act applies to every registered entity in Bermuda that engages in a relevant activity and requires that every such entity shall maintain a substantial economic presence in Bermuda. Relevant activities for the purposes of the Economic Substance Act are banking business, insurance business, fund management business, financing business, leasing business, headquarters business, shipping business, distribution and service center business, intellectual property holding business and conducting business as a holding entity.
The Bermuda Economic Substance Act provides that a registered entity that carries on a relevant activity complies with economic substance requirements if (a) it is directed and managed in Bermuda, (b) its core income-generating activities (as may be prescribed) are undertaken in Bermuda with respect to the relevant activity, (c) it maintains adequate physical presence in Bermuda, (d) it has adequate full time employees in Bermuda with suitable qualifications and (e) it incurs adequate operating expenditure in Bermuda in relation to the relevant activity.
A registered entity that carries on a relevant activity is obliged under the Bermuda Economic Substance Act to file a declaration in the prescribed form (the “Declaration”) with the Registrar of Companies (the “Registrar”) on an annual basis.
If we fail to comply with our obligations under the Bermuda Economic Substance Act or any similar law applicable to us in any other jurisdictions, we could be subject to financial penalties and spontaneous disclosure of information to foreign tax officials in related jurisdictions and may be struck from the register of companies in Bermuda or such other jurisdiction. Any of these actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to an Investment in Our Securities
Our share price may be highly volatile and future sales of our common shares could cause the market price of our common shares to decline.
Our common shares commenced trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market (the "NASDAQ") in February 1997 and currently trade under the symbol "GOGL". Beginning on April 7, 2015, our shares have traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange (the "OSE"), under the ticker code "GOGL". We cannot assure you that an active and liquid public market for our common shares will continue. The market price of our common shares has historically fluctuated over a wide range and may continue to fluctuate significantly in response to many factors, such as actual or anticipated fluctuations in our operating results, changes in financial estimates by securities analysts, economic and regulatory trends, general market conditions, rumors and other factors, many of which are beyond our control. If the volatility in the broad stock market worsens, it could have an adverse effect on the market price of our common shares and impact a potential sale price if holders of our common shares decide to sell their shares.
Future issuance of shares or other securities may dilute the holdings of shareholders and could materially affect the price of our common shares.
In the future we may offer additional shares or other securities to finance new projects, in connection with unanticipated liabilities or expenses or for any other purposes. Any such additional offering could reduce the proportionate ownership and voting interests of holders of our common shares, as well as our earnings per share and our net asset value per share, which could have a material adverse effect on the market price of our common shares.
We cannot assure you that our board of directors will declare dividend payments in the future.
The declaration and payment of dividends, if any, will always be subject to our board of director's discretion. The timing and amount of any dividends declared will depend on, among other things, our earnings, financial condition and cash requirements and availability, our ability to obtain debt and equity financing on acceptable terms as contemplated by our growth strategy. In addition, other external factors, such as our lenders imposing restrictions on our ability to pay dividends under the terms of future loan facilities we may enter into, may limit our ability to pay dividends.
Our growth strategy contemplates that we will finance the acquisition of additional vessels through a combination of debt and equity financing on terms acceptable to us. If financing is not available to us on acceptable terms, our board of directors may determine to finance or refinance acquisitions with cash from operations, which could also reduce or even eliminate the amount of cash available for the payment of dividends.
ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
A. HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMPANY
On September 18, 1996, we were incorporated in Bermuda under the name Knightsbridge Tankers Limited as an exempted company pursuant to the Bermuda Companies Act 1981. In October 2014, we changed our name to Knightsbridge Shipping Limited. Following the completion of the Merger on March 31, 2015, we changed our name to Golden Ocean Group Limited. Our registered and principal executive offices are located at Par-la-Ville Place, 14 Par-la-Ville Road, Hamilton, HM 08, Bermuda, and our telephone number at this location is +1 (441) 295-6935. The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The address of the SEC’s internet site is www.sec.gov. None of the information contained on these websites is incorporated into or forms a part of this annual report.
Our common shares currently trade on the NASDAQ and the OSE under the ticker code "GOGL".
We are engaged primarily in the ownership and operation of dry bulk vessels. We operate through subsidiaries located in Bermuda, Liberia, the Marshall Islands, Norway, Singapore and UK. We are also involved in the charter, purchase and sale of vessels.
Historical business purpose and the Merger
We were originally established for the purpose of owning and operating five very large crude oil carriers ("VLCCs"). However, we expanded our business to the dry bulk segment from 2009 and onwards by acquiring secondhand vessels and by entering into newbuilding contracts. Between 2007 and 2013, we sold our five VLCCs and subsequently discontinued our crude oil tanker operations. In 2014, we made significant expansion in the dry bulk segment by acquiring 29 special purpose companies ("SPCs"), from Frontline 2012 Ltd ("Frontline 2012"), each owning a dry bulk newbuilding, all of which were delivered to us between 2014 and 2018.
On October 7, 2014, we and the Former Golden Ocean entered into the Merger Agreement. The Merger was approved by our shareholders and the shareholders of the Former Golden Ocean at separate special general meetings held on March 26, 2015. In addition, our shareholders approved the adoption of the Amended and Restated Bye-laws. As of March 31, 2015, and following completion of the Merger, we owned 47 vessels and had 25 vessels under construction.
Our Acquisitions, Disposals and Newbuildings
We entered into the following acquisitions and disposals in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 (to date):
In December 2020, we entered into an agreement to sell the Golden Shea, a Panamax vessel, to an unrelated third party for $9.6 million. The vessel was delivered to her new owner in March 2021.
In January 2021, we entered into an agreement to sell the Golden Saguenay, a Panamax vessel, to an unrelated third party for $8.4 million. The vessel was delivered to her new owners and final payment received in April 2021.
In February 2021, we entered into an agreement to acquire 15 modern dry bulk vessels and three newbuildings for a total consideration of $752 million from affiliates of Hemen Holding Ltd., our largest shareholder (the “Vessel Acquisitions”). We took delivery of all vessels and newbuildings in the first six months of 2021.
In September and October of 2021, the Company entered into agreements to construct a total of seven Kamsarmax vessels. The vessels are expected to be delivered by the first quarter of 2024.
In November 2021, we sold two older Panamax vessels, Golden Opportunity and Golden Endurer, to unrelated third parties for $37.2 million.
In February 2022, we entered into an agreement to sell en-bloc three older Panamax vessels, Golden Empress, Golden Enterprise and Golden Endeavour to an unrelated third party for $52 million. The vessels are expected to be delivered to their new owner in the second quarter of 2022 and the total estimated net cash flows from the transaction are expected to be approximately $30.7 million. The Company expects to record a gain of approximately $9.6 million from the sale in the second quarter of 2022.
B. BUSINESS OVERVIEW
We are an international shipping company that owns and operates a fleet of dry bulk vessels, comprising of Newcastlemax, Capesize, Panamax and Ultramax vessels. Our vessels transport a broad range of major and minor bulk commodities, including ores, coal, grains and fertilizers, along worldwide shipping routes. Our vessels operate in the spot and time charter markets.
As of March 23, 2022, we owned 81 dry bulk vessels and had construction contracts for seven newbuildings. Each vessel is owned and operated by one of our subsidiaries and is flagged either in the Marshall Islands, Hong Kong, Bahamas or Panama. In addition, we had 11 vessels chartered-in (of which seven and one are chartered in on finance leases and operating leases, respectively, from SFL and three chartered in on operating leases from unrelated third parties). Six of our vessels are chartered-out on fixed rate time charters, 31 of our vessels are chartered out on index linked rate time charters and the remaining 55 vessels operate in the spot market.
We own various vessel owning and operating subsidiaries. Our operations take place substantially outside of the United States. Our subsidiaries, therefore, own and operate vessels that may be affected by changes in foreign governments and other economic and political conditions. Our vessels operate worldwide and as a result, our management does not, and did not, evaluate performance by geographical region because this information is not meaningful.
The dry bulk shipping industry is highly cyclical, experiencing volatility in profitability, vessel values and freight rates. Freight rates are strongly influenced by the supply of dry bulk vessels and the demand for dry bulk seaborne transportation.
Our Business Strategy
Our business strategy is to focus on largest sizes of dry bulk carriers (Capesize and Panamax) with flexibility to adjust our market exposure depending on existing factors such as charter rates, newbuilding costs, vessel resale and scrap values and vessel operating expenses resulting from, among other things, changes in the supply of and demand for dry bulk capacity. We may adjust our exposure through time charters, voyage charters, bareboat charters, sale and leasebacks, sales and purchases of vessels, newbuilding contracts and acquisitions. Our intention is to create shareholder value through sustainable growth.
Our business strategy includes three main pillars (Simplification, Risk Management and Decarbonization) on which we are focusing our efforts: (1) Simplification relates to the increased focus on our core business and our capabilities as a shipowner in large size dry bulk shipping, (2) Risk Management relates our focus on enhancing transparency and accountability through clearly defined risk parameters and (3) Decarbonization and digitalization means enhanced focus on positioning the Company for a low-carbon future by exploring new technologies and optimization tools.
Capesize Chartering Ltd
In February 2015, Capesize Chartering Ltd ("CCL"), a joint venture company was incorporated and in January 2016, the joint venture partners, Golden Ocean, Bocimar International NV, C Transport Holding Ltd and Star Bulk Carriers Corp, entered into a RSA. The purpose of the joint venture was to combine and coordinate the chartering services of all the parties for their participating Capesize dry bulk vessels and ultimately achieve improved scheduling ability and enhance economic efficiencies. Each CCL participating vessel owner continued to be responsible for the operating, accounting and technical management of its respective vessels. In August 2021, we announced termination of our relationship with CCL. With the Vessel Acquisition in 2021, we gained the critical mass to achieve the benefits of scale outside of the joint venture and during the fourth quarter of 2021, the last of the Company’s vessels trading in the CCL pool were redelivered. We now have full commercial control of our Capesize fleet, where all of our vessels are managed by a single commercial management platform, and we have better control of the commercial strategy.
Our Environmental, Social and Governance Efforts
Environmental risk management is an integrated part of our daily operations and management processes. We review all identified risks to the environment, which allows us to establish appropriate management tools and safeguards in place. Our Management System is ISO-compliant and in accordance with the ISM Code. Our Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans (“SEEMP”) allows for a granular risk assessment for each individual vessel's performance as well as providing a thorough system for reporting.
Together with companies such as Avance Gas, Flex LNG, Frontline and SFL, Golden Ocean established the ESG forum. The goal is to design industry-leading approaches to ESG risk management and reporting parameters to ensure best-in-class performance.
Health and safety matters remain our highest priority area, also when selecting our business partners. This focus has proven to be all the more important since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our actions in this area include instituting safety measures for our crew. As of the date of this report, approximately 85% of our crew is vaccinated.
Our employment policy follows and enforces the principles outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It is of the utmost importance that all our employees receive fair and equal treatment irrespective of race, gender, colour, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, disability, ancestry, political opinion or any other personal bias. We strictly prohibit discrimination or harassment in any form or fashion.
We have a risk-based approach to compliance with established policies and procedures which clearly set out how we manage ESG issues. These policies and procedures are designed to mitigate risks and reduce potential negative ESG impacts. All policies and procedures were updated in 2021.
The Board of Directors (BoD) oversees our ESG strategy and the Board has considered what constitutes material ESG matters to the company. The BoD annually reviews our ESG report and is responsible for ensuring that appropriate and effective ESG related risk management and internal control systems are in place. Our Code of Conduct and corporate governance framework are also reviewed annually.
The Executive Management Team, led by the CEO, recognises the importance of climate-risk and opportunities and their impact on the future of the shipping industry. The Executive Management Team leads the strategy process and risk management and discusses risks and opportunities with the technical department and, more generally, in the ESG Forum (outlined above). The Team reports all material climate-related risks and opportunities to the Board – i.e. divestments and investments impacting the carbon emission profile of Golden Ocean.
Our Decarbonisation Strategy
On average, our vessels are 6.8 years old, representing one of the most energy-efficient fleets with the lowest emission levels in the dry bulk industry. Renewal of the fleet is part of the Company’s strategy to ensure we operate a modern, fuel-efficient fleet with a reduced emissions profile.
Decarbonisation is a strategic priority. This includes addressing direct emissions and climate-related risks of regulatory changes, mainly through initiatives to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, which will enhance our access to cost-efficient capital and allow to keep up with evolving expectations from our customers.
Our decarbonisation strategy includes a roadmap for complying with the IMO’s Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index" (EEXI) and carbon intensity indicator (“CII”) regulations. We view compliance with the IMO trajectory as a minimum, as we do not believe the IMO has been ambitious enough, and we will seek to exceed these targets. Our ambition, together with integrated fuel and emissions data for our ships, means we are better placed to make operational and strategic decisions based on verified data.
As of today, considerable measures have been taken to decarbonise our fleet:
a.Crew awareness of our decarbonisation strategy and goals
b.Optimalization of speed and fuel consumption in different weather conditions and maintenance of clean hulls to reduce friction.
c.We cannot solely focus on future technology as the solution, and we implement operational measures in the short term to reduce emissions.
d.Exploring how to maximise the potential of our current fleet, including retrofitting of efficiency improving installations on our fleet.
e.Long-term, we are looking at new propulsion technology and CCS technology on vessels, with the ultimate aim of zero-emission when feasible.
f.Divesting inefficient and older tonnage, replacing older tonnage with modern fuel-efficient ships.
g.We divest from smaller tonnage and focus on larger tonnage, which will have a positive effect on the Annual Efficiency Ratio (AER), measuring emissions per ton cargo carried.
Overall responsibility for the oversight of the management of our company and its subsidiaries rests with our Board. We operate management services through Golden Ocean Group Management (Bermuda) Ltd, our subsidiary incorporated in Bermuda, which in turn subcontracts services to Golden Ocean Management AS and Golden Ocean Shipping Co. Pte. Ltd., our subsidiaries incorporated in Norway and Singapore, respectively. Our CEO, principal financial officer and principal commercial
officer are employed by Golden Ocean Management AS. The Board defines the scope and terms of the services to be provided, including day-to-day operations by the aforementioned subsidiaries, and requires that it be consulted on all matters of material importance and/or of an unusual nature and, for such matters, provides specific authorization to personnel to act on our behalf.
Technical Supervision Services
We receive technical supervision services from Frontline Management (Bermuda) Limited ("Frontline Management"). Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Frontline Management receives a management fee per vessel per year. This fee is subject to annual review. Frontline Management performs also newbuilding supervision on our behalf and charges us for costs incurred in relation to the supervision. Technical operations and crewing of all owned vessels are outsourced to several leading ship management companies.
The dry bulk trade has a history of tracking seasonal demand fluctuations. As China is the most significant market for dry bulk shipping, the public holidays in relation to the Chinese New Year during the first quarter usually results in a decrease in market activity during this period. Also, in the last few years, adverse weather conditions in the Southern Hemisphere, which often occur during the first quarter, have had a negative impact on iron ore and coal exports from Australia and iron ore exports from Brazil.
Grain has traditionally had the greatest impact on the seasonality in the dry bulk market, particularly during the peak demand seasons, which occurs during the second quarter in the Southern Hemisphere and at the end of the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter in the Northern Hemisphere. The growth of iron ore and coal transportation over the last decade, however, has diminished the relative importance of grain to the dry bulk transportation industry. Since iron ore, like most other commodities, has moved from fixed price agreements between shippers and receivers to spot pricing, short-term price fluctuations have had an impact on iron ore trading by reducing normal seasonal patterns. Other factors, however, such as weather and port congestion still impact market volatility.
For the year ended December 31, 2021, one customer accounted for 10 percent or more of our consolidated revenues in the amounts of $117.7 million. For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, no customer accounted for 10 percent or more of our consolidated revenues.
The market for international seaborne dry bulk transportation services is highly fragmented and competitive. Seaborne dry bulk transportation services are generally provided by independent ship-owner fleets. In addition, many owners and operators in the dry bulk sector pool their vessels together on an ongoing basis, and such pools are available to customers to the same extent as independently owned and operated fleets. Competition for charters in the dry bulk market is intense and is based upon price, location, size, age, condition and acceptability of the vessel and its manager. Competition is also affected by the availability of other size vessels to compete in the trades in which we engage. Charters are to a large extent brokered through international independent brokerage houses that specialize in finding the optimal ship for any particular cargo based on the aforementioned criteria. Brokers may be appointed by the cargo shipper or the ship owner.
Environmental and Other Regulations in the Shipping Industry
Government regulation and laws significantly affect the ownership and operation of our fleet. We are subject to international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the countries in which our vessels may operate or are registered relating to safety and health and environmental protection including the storage, handling, emission, transportation and discharge of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, and the remediation of contamination and liability for damage to natural resources. Compliance with such laws, regulations and other requirements entails significant expense, including vessel modifications and implementation of certain operating procedures.
A variety of government and private entities subject our vessels to both scheduled and unscheduled inspections. These entities include the local port authorities (applicable national authorities such as the USCG, harbor master or equivalent), classification societies, flag state administrations (countries of registry) and charterers, particularly terminal operators. Certain of these entities require us to obtain permits, licenses, certificates and other authorizations for the operation of our vessels. Failure to maintain necessary permits or approvals could require us to incur substantial costs or result in the temporary suspension of the operation of one or more of our vessels.
Increasing environmental concerns have created a demand for vessels that conform to stricter environmental standards. We are required to maintain operating standards for all of our vessels that emphasize operational safety, quality maintenance, continuous training of our officers and crews and compliance with United States and international regulations. We believe that the operation of our vessels is in substantial compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations and that our vessels have all material permits, licenses, certificates or other authorizations necessary for the conduct of our operations. However, because such laws and regulations frequently change and may impose increasingly stricter requirements, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with these requirements, or the impact of these requirements on the resale value or useful lives of our vessels. In addition, a future serious marine incident that causes significant adverse environmental impact could result in additional legislation or regulation that could negatively affect our profitability.
International Maritime Organization
The IMO, the United Nations agency for maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by vessels (the “IMO”), has adopted the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, collectively referred to as MARPOL 73/78 and herein as “MARPOL,” the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974 (“SOLAS Convention”), and the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966 (the “LL Convention”). MARPOL establishes environmental standards relating to oil leakage or spilling, garbage management, sewage, air emissions, handling and disposal of noxious liquids and the handling of harmful substances in packaged forms. MARPOL is applicable to dry bulk, tanker and LNG carriers, among other vessels, and is broken into six Annexes, each of which regulates a different source of pollution. Annex I relates to oil leakage or spilling; Annexes II and III relate to harmful substances carried in bulk in liquid or in packaged form, respectively; Annexes IV and V relate to sewage and garbage management, respectively; and Annex VI, lastly, relates to air emissions. Annex VI was separately adopted by the IMO in September of 1997; new emission standards, titled IMO-2020, took effect on January 1, 2020.
In 2013, the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (the "MEPC") adopted a resolution amending MARPOL Annex I Condition Assessment Scheme ("CAS"). These amendments became effective on October 1, 2014, and require compliance with the 2011 International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers ("ESP Code"), which provides for enhanced inspection programs. We may need to make certain financial expenditures to comply with these amendments.
In September of 1997, the IMO adopted Annex VI to MARPOL to address air pollution from vessels. Effective May 2005, Annex VI sets limits on sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from all commercial vessel exhausts and prohibits “deliberate emissions” of ozone depleting substances (such as halons and chlorofluorocarbons), emissions of volatile compounds from cargo tanks, and the shipboard incineration of specific substances. Annex VI also includes a global cap on the sulfur content of fuel oil and allows for special areas to be established with more stringent controls on sulfur emissions, as explained below. Emissions of “volatile organic compounds” from certain vessels, and the shipboard incineration (from incinerators installed after January 1, 2000) of certain substances (such as polychlorinated biphenyls ("PCBs")) are also prohibited. We believe that all our vessels are currently compliant in all material respects with these regulations.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee ("MEPC"), adopted amendments to Annex VI regarding emissions of sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and ozone depleting substances, which entered into force on July 1, 2010. The amended Annex VI seeks to further reduce air pollution by, among other things, implementing a progressive reduction of the amount of sulfur contained in any fuel oil used on board ships. On October 27, 2016, at its 70th session, the MEPC agreed to implement a global 0.5% m/m sulfur oxide emissions limit (reduced from 3.50%) starting from January 1, 2020. This limitation can be met by using low-sulfur compliant fuel oil, alternative fuels, or certain exhaust gas cleaning systems. Ships are now required to obtain bunker delivery notes and International Air Pollution Prevention (“IAPP”) Certificates from their flag states that specify sulfur content. Additionally, at MEPC 73, amendments to Annex VI to prohibit the carriage of bunkers above 0.5% sulfur on ships, with the exception of vessels fitted with exhaust gas cleaning equipment ("scrubbers"), were adopted and took effect on March 1, 2020. These regulations subject ocean-going vessels to stringent emissions controls, and may cause us to incur substantial costs.
Sulfur content standards are even stricter within certain “Emission Control Areas” (“ECAs”). As of January 1, 2015, ships operating within an ECA were not permitted to use fuel with sulfur content in excess of 0.1% m/m. Amended Annex VI establishes procedures for designating new ECAs. Currently, the IMO has designated four ECAs, including specified portions of the Baltic Sea area, North Sea area, North American area and United States Caribbean area. Ocean-going vessels in these areas will be subject to stringent emission controls and may cause us to incur additional costs. Other areas in China are subject
to local regulations that impose stricter emission controls. In December 2021, the member states of the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (“Barcelona Convention”) agreed to support the designation of a new ECA in the Mediterranean. The group plans to submit a formal proposal to the IMO by the end of 2022 with the goal of having the ECA implemented by 2025. If other ECAs are approved by the IMO, or other new or more stringent requirements relating to emissions from marine diesel engines or port operations by vessels are adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) or the states where we operate, compliance with these regulations could entail significant capital expenditures or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.
Amended Annex VI also establishes new tiers of stringent nitrogen oxide emissions standards for marine diesel engines, depending on their date of installation. At the MEPC meeting held from March to April 2014, amendments to Annex VI were adopted which address the date on which Tier III Nitrogen Oxide ("NOx") standards in ECAs will go into effect. Under the amendments, Tier III NOx standards apply to ships that operate in the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea ECAs designed for the control of NOx produced by vessels with a marine diesel engine installed and constructed on or after January 1, 2016. Tier III requirements could apply to areas that will be designated for Tier III NOx in the future. At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, the MEPC approved the North Sea and Baltic Sea as ECAs for nitrogen oxide for ships built on or after January 1, 2021. The EPA promulgated equivalent (and in some senses stricter) emissions standards in 2010. As a result of these designations or similar future designations, we may be required to incur additional operating or other costs.
As determined at the MEPC 70, the new Regulation 22A of MARPOL Annex VI became effective as of March 1, 2018 and requires ships above 5,000 gross tonnage to collect and report annual data on fuel oil consumption to an IMO database, with the first year of data collection having commenced on January 1, 2019. The IMO intends to use such data as the first step in its roadmap (through 2023) for developing its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships, as discussed further below.
As of January 1, 2013, MARPOL made mandatory certain measures relating to energy efficiency for ships. All ships are now required to develop and implement Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans (“SEEMP”), and new ships must be designed in compliance with minimum energy efficiency levels per capacity mile as defined by the Energy Efficiency Design Index (“EEDI”). Under these measures, by 2025, all new ships built will be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2014.
Additionally, MEPC 75 introduced draft amendments to Annex VI which impose new regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. These amendments introduce requirements to assess and measure the energy efficiency of all ships and set the required attainment values, with the goal of reducing the carbon intensity of international shipping. The requirements include (1) a technical requirement to reduce carbon intensity based on a new Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (“EEXI”), and (2) operational carbon intensity reduction requirements, based on a new operational CII. The attained EEXI is required to be calculated for ships of 400 gross tonnage and above, in accordance with different values set for ship types and categories. With respect to the CII, the draft amendments would require ships of 5,000 gross tonnage to document and verify their actual annual operational CII achieved against a determined required annual operational CII. Additionally, MEPC 75 proposed must have an approved SEEMP on board. For ships above 5,000 gross tonnage, the SEEMP would need to include certain mandatory content. MEPC 75 also approved draft amendments to MARPOL Annex I to prohibit the use and carriage for use as fuel of heavy fuel oil (“HFO”) by ships in Arctic waters on and after July 1, 2024. The draft amendments introduced at MEPC 75 were adopted at the MEPC 76 session on June 2021 and are expected to enter into force on November 1, 2022, with the requirements for EEXI and CII certification coming into effect from January 1, 2023. We have incurred increased costs to comply with these revised standards, and we will incur additional costs in 2022, however we do not expect these costs to be material. Additional or new conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted that could require the installation of expensive emission control systems and could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition. MEPC 77 adopted a non-binding resolution which urges Member States and ship operators to voluntarily use distillate or other cleaner alternative fuels or methods of propulsion that are safe for ships and could contribute to the reduction of Black Carbon emissions from ships when operating in or near the Arctic.
Safety Management System Requirements
The SOLAS Convention was amended to address the safe manning of vessels and emergency training drills. The Convention of Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (the “LLMC”) sets limitations of liability for a loss of life or personal injury claim or a property claim against ship owners. We believe that our vessels are in substantial compliance with SOLAS and LLMC standards.
Under Chapter IX of the SOLAS Convention, or the International Safety Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (the “ISM Code”), our operations are also subject to environmental standards and requirements. The ISM Code requires the party with operational control of a vessel to develop 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 operating its vessels safely and describing procedures for responding to emergencies. We rely upon the safety
management system that our managers have developed for compliance with the ISM Code. The failure of a vessel owner or bareboat charterer to comply with the ISM Code may subject such party to increased liability, may decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. The ISM Code requires that vessel operators obtain a safety management certificate for each vessel they operate. This certificate evidences compliance by a vessel’s management with the ISM Code requirements for a safety management system. No vessel can obtain a safety management certificate unless its manager has been awarded a document of compliance, issued by each flag state, under the ISM Code. Our managers have obtained applicable documents of compliance for their offices and safety management certificates for all of our vessels for which the certificates are required by the IMO. The document of compliance and safety management certificate are renewed as required.
Regulation II-1/3-10 of the SOLAS Convention governs ship construction and stipulates that ships over 150 meters in length must have adequate strength, integrity and stability to minimize risk of loss or pollution. Goal-based standards amendments in SOLAS regulation II-1/3-10 entered into force in 2012, with July 1, 2016 set for application to new oil tankers and bulk carriers. The SOLAS Convention regulation II-1/3-10 on goal-based ship construction standards for bulk carriers and oil tankers, which entered into force on January 1, 2012, requires that all oil tankers and bulk carriers of 150 meters in length and above, for which the building contract is placed on or after July 1, 2016, satisfy applicable structural requirements conforming to the functional requirements of the International Goal-based Ship Construction Standards for Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers (GBS Standards).
Amendments to the SOLAS Convention Chapter VII apply to vessels transporting dangerous goods and require those vessels be in compliance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (“IMDG Code”). Effective January 1, 2018, the IMDG Code includes (1) updates to the provisions for radioactive material, reflecting the latest provisions from the International Atomic Energy Agency, (2) new marking, packing and classification requirements for dangerous goods, and (3) new mandatory training requirements. Amendments which took effect on January 1, 2020 also reflect the latest material from the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, including (1) new provisions regarding IMO type 9 tank, (2) new abbreviations for segregation groups, and (3) special provisions for carriage of lithium batteries and of vehicles powered by flammable liquid or gas. The upcoming amendments, which will come into force on June 1, 2022, include (1) addition of a definition of dosage rate, (2) additions to the list of high consequence dangerous goods, (3) new provisions for medical/clinical waste, (4) addition of various ISO standards for gas cylinders, (5) a new handling code, and (6) changes to stowage and segregation provisions.
The IMO has also adopted the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (“STCW”). As of February 2017, all seafarers are required to meet the STCW standards and be in possession of a valid STCW certificate. Flag states that have ratified SOLAS and STCW generally employ the classification societies, which have incorporated SOLAS and STCW requirements into their class rules, to undertake surveys to confirm compliance.
The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee and MEPC, respectively, each adopted relevant parts of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Water (the “Polar Code”). The Polar Code, which entered into force on January 1, 2017, covers design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue as well as environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the waters surrounding the two poles. It also includes mandatory measures regarding safety and pollution prevention as well as recommendatory provisions. The Polar Code applies to new ships constructed after January 1, 2017, and after January 1, 2018, ships constructed before January 1, 2017 are required to meet the relevant requirements by the earlier of their first intermediate or renewal survey.
Furthermore, recent action by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and United States agencies indicates that cybersecurity regulations for the maritime industry are likely to be further developed in the near future in an attempt to combat cybersecurity threats. In February 2021, the U.S. Coast Guard published guidance on addressing cyber risks in a vessel’s safety management system. This might cause companies to create additional procedures for monitoring cybersecurity, which could require additional expenses and/or capital expenditures. The impact of such regulations is difficult to predict at this time.
Pollution Control and Liability Requirements
The IMO has negotiated international conventions that impose liability for pollution in international waters and the territorial waters of the signatories to such conventions. For example, the IMO adopted an International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the “BWM Convention”) in 2004. The BWM Convention entered into force on September 8, 2017. The BWM Convention requires ships to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of new or invasive aquatic organisms and pathogens within 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.
On December 4, 2013, the IMO Assembly passed a resolution revising the application dates of the BWM Convention so that the dates are triggered by the entry into force date and not the dates originally in the BWM Convention. This, in effect, makes all vessels delivered before the entry into force date “existing vessels” and allows for the installation of ballast water management systems on such vessels at the first International Oil Pollution Prevention ("IOPP") renewal survey following entry into force of the convention. The MEPC adopted updated guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8) at MEPC 70. At MEPC 71, the schedule regarding the BWM Convention’s implementation dates was also discussed and amendments were introduced to extend the date existing vessels are subject to certain ballast water standards. Those changes were adopted at MEPC 72. Ships over 400 gross tons generally must comply with a “D-1 standard,” requiring the exchange of ballast water only in open seas and away from coastal waters. The “D-2 standard” specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, and compliance dates vary depending on the IOPP renewal dates. Depending on the date of the IOPP renewal survey, existing vessels must comply with the D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019. For most ships, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms. Ballast water management systems, which include systems that make use of chemical, biocides, organisms or biological mechanisms, or which alter the chemical or physical characteristics of the ballast water, must be approved in accordance with IMO Guidelines (Regulation D-3). As of October 13, 2019, MEPC 72’s amendments to the BWM Convention took effect, making the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which governs assessment of ballast water management systems, mandatory rather than permissive, and formalized an implementation schedule for the D-2 standard. Under these amendments, all ships must meet the D-2 standard by September 8, 2024. Remaining costs of compliance with these regulations is estimated to be approximately $8 million in total for the remaining 10 vessels that do not currently have ballast water management systems installed. Additionally, in November 2020, MEPC 75 adopted amendments to the BWM Convention which would require a commissioning test of the ballast water management system for the initial survey or when performing an additional survey for retrofits. This analysis will not apply to ships that already have an installed BWM system certified under the BWM Convention. These amendments are expected to enter into force on June 1, 2022.
Once mid-ocean exchange or ballast water treatment requirements become mandatory under the BWM Convention, the cost of compliance could increase for ocean carriers and may have a material effect on our operations. However, many countries already regulate the discharge of ballast water carried by vessels from country to country to prevent the introduction of invasive and harmful species via such discharges. The U.S., for example, requires vessels entering its waters from another country to conduct mid-ocean ballast exchange, or undertake some alternate measure, and to comply with certain reporting requirements.
The IMO also adopted the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (the “Bunker Convention”) to impose strict liability on ship owners (including the registered owner, bareboat charterer, manager or operator) for pollution damage in jurisdictional waters of ratifying states caused by discharges of bunker fuel. The Bunker Convention requires registered owners of ships over 1,000 gross tons to maintain insurance for pollution damage in an amount equal to the limits of liability under the applicable national or international limitation regime (but not exceeding the amount calculated in accordance with the LLMC). With respect to non-ratifying states, liability for spills or releases of oil carried as fuel in ship’s bunkers typically is determined by the national or other domestic laws in the jurisdiction where the events or damages occur.
Ships are required to maintain a certificate attesting that they maintain adequate insurance to cover an incident. In jurisdictions, such as the United States where the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969, as from time to time amended and replaced by the 1992 protocol, or the Bunker Convention has not been adopted, various legislative schemes or common law govern, and liability is imposed either on the basis of fault or on a strict-liability basis.
In 2001, the IMO adopted the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (the “Anti-fouling Convention”). The Anti-fouling Convention, which entered into force on September 17, 2008, prohibits the use of organotin compound coatings to prevent the attachment of mollusks and other sea life to the hulls of vessels. Vessels of over 400 gross tons engaged in international voyages will also be required to undergo an initial survey before the vessel is put into service or before an International Anti-fouling System Certificate is issued for the first time; and subsequent surveys when the Anti-fouling systems are altered or replaced. We have obtained Anti-fouling System Certificates for all of our vessels that are subject to the Anti-fouling Convention.
Noncompliance with the ISM Code or other IMO regulations may subject the ship owner or bareboat charterer to increased liability, may lead to decreases in available insurance coverage for affected vessels and may result in the denial of access to, or
detention in, some ports. The USCG and European Union authorities have indicated that vessels not in compliance with the ISM Code by applicable deadlines will be prohibited from trading in U.S. and European Union ports, respectively. As of the date of this report, each of our vessels is ISM Code certified. However, there can be no assurance that such certificates will be maintained in the future. 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.
United States Regulations
The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act
The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”) established an extensive regulatory and liability regime for the protection and cleanup of the environment from oil spills. OPA affects all “owners and operators” whose vessels trade or operate within the U.S., its territories and possessions or whose vessels operate in U.S. waters, which includes the U.S.’s territorial sea and its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone around the U.S. The U.S. has also enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), which applies to the discharge of hazardous substances other than oil, except in limited circumstances, whether on land or at sea. OPA and CERCLA both define “owner and operator” in the case of a vessel as any person owning, operating or chartering by demise, the vessel. Both OPA and CERCLA impact our operations.
Under OPA, vessel owners and operators are “responsible parties” and are jointly, severally and strictly liable (unless the spill results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war) for all containment and clean-up costs and other damages arising from discharges or threatened discharges of oil from their vessels, including bunkers (fuel). OPA defines these other damages broadly to include:
i.injury to, destruction or loss of, or loss of use of, natural resources and related assessment costs;
ii.injury to, or economic losses resulting from, the destruction of real and personal property;
iii.loss of subsistence use of natural resources that are injured, destroyed or lost;
iv.net loss of taxes, royalties, rents, fees or net profit revenues resulting from injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property, or natural resources;
v.lost profits or impairment of earning capacity due to injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property or natural resources; and
vi.net cost of increased or additional public services necessitated by removal activities following a discharge of oil, such as protection from fire, safety or health hazards, and loss of subsistence use of natural resources.
OPA contains statutory caps on liability and damages; such caps do not apply to direct cleanup costs. Effective November 12, 2019, the USCG adjusted the limits of OPA liability for non-tank vessels, edible oil tank vessels, and any oil spill response vessels, to the greater of $1,200 per gross ton or $997,100 (subject to periodic adjustment for inflation). These limits of liability do not apply if an incident was proximately caused by the violation of an applicable U.S. federal safety, construction or operating regulation by a responsible party (or its agent, employee or a person acting pursuant to a contractual relationship), or a responsible party's gross negligence or willful misconduct. The limitation on liability similarly does not apply if the responsible party fails or refuses to (i) report the incident as required by law where the responsible party knows or has reason to know of the incident; (ii) reasonably cooperate and assist as requested in connection with oil removal activities; or (iii) without sufficient cause, comply with an order issued under the Federal Water Pollution Act (Section 311 (c), (e)) or the Intervention on the High Seas Act.
CERCLA contains a similar liability regime whereby owners and operators of vessels are liable for cleanup, removal and remedial costs, as well as damages for injury to, or destruction or loss of, natural resources, including the reasonable costs associated with assessing the same, and health assessments or health effects studies. There is no liability if the discharge of a hazardous substance results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war. Liability under CERCLA is limited to the greater of $300 per gross ton or $5.0 million for vessels carrying a hazardous substance as cargo and the greater of $300 per gross ton or $500,000 for any other vessel. These limits do not apply (rendering the responsible person liable for the total cost of response and damages) if the release or threat of release of a hazardous substance resulted from willful misconduct or negligence, or the primary cause of the release was a violation of applicable safety, construction or operating standards or regulations. The limitation on liability also does not apply if the responsible person fails or refused to provide all reasonable cooperation and assistance as requested in connection with response activities where the vessel is subject to OPA.
OPA and CERCLA each preserve the right to recover damages under existing law, including maritime tort law. OPA and CERCLA both require owners and operators of vessels to establish and maintain with the USCG evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to meet the maximum amount of liability to which the particular responsible person may be subject. Vessel owners and operators may satisfy their financial responsibility obligations by providing a proof of insurance, a surety bond, qualification as a self-insurer or a guarantee. We comply and plan to comply going forward with the USCG’s financial responsibility regulations by providing applicable certificates of financial responsibility.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in additional regulatory initiatives or statutes, including higher liability caps under OPA, new regulations regarding offshore oil and gas drilling, and a pilot inspection program for offshore facilities. However, several of these initiatives and regulations have been or may be revised. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (“BSEE”) revised Production Safety Systems Rule (“PSSR”), effective December 27, 2018, modified and relaxed certain environmental and safety protections under the 2016 PSSR. Additionally, the BSEE amended the Well Control Rule, effective July 15, 2019, which rolled back certain reforms regarding the safety of drilling operations, and former U.S. President Trump had proposed leasing new sections of U.S. waters to oil and gas companies for offshore drilling. In January 2021, the current U.S. President Biden recently signed an executive order blocking new leases for oil and gas drilling in federal waters. However, attorney generals from 13 states filed in March 2021 to lift the executive order, and in June 2021, a federal judge in Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration, stating that the power to pause offshore oil and gas leases “lies solely with Congress.” With these rapid changes, compliance with any new requirements of OPA and future legislation or regulations applicable to the operation of our vessels could impact the cost of our operations and adversely affect our business.
OPA specifically permits individual states to impose their own liability regimes with regard to oil pollution incidents occurring within their boundaries, provided they accept, at a minimum, the levels of liability established under OPA and some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for oil spills. Many U.S. states that border a navigable waterway have enacted environmental pollution laws that impose strict liability on a person for removal costs and damages resulting from a discharge of oil or a release of a hazardous substance. These laws may be more stringent than U.S. federal law. Moreover, some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for discharge of pollutants within their waters, although in some cases, states which have enacted this type of legislation have not yet issued implementing regulations defining vessel owners’ responsibilities under these laws. The Company intends to comply with all applicable state regulations in the ports where the Company’s vessels call.
We currently maintain pollution liability coverage insurance in the amount of $1 billion per incident for each of our vessels. If the damages from a catastrophic spill were to exceed our insurance coverage, it could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operation.
Other United States Environmental Initiatives
The U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970 (including its amendments of 1977 and 1990) (“CAA”) requires the EPA to promulgate standards applicable to emissions of volatile organic compounds and other air contaminants. The CAA requires states to adopt State Implementation Plans ("SIPs"), some of which regulate emissions resulting from vessel loading and unloading operations which may affect our vessels.
The U.S. Clean Water Act (“CWA”) prohibits the discharge of oil, hazardous substances and ballast water in U.S. navigable waters unless authorized by a duly-issued permit or exemption, and imposes strict liability in the form of penalties for any unauthorized discharges. The CWA also imposes substantial liability for the costs of removal, remediation and damages and complements the remedies available under OPA and CERCLA. In 2015, the EPA expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”), thereby expanding federal authority under the CWA. Following litigation on the revised WOTUS rule, in December 2018, the EPA and Department of the Army proposed a revised, limited definition of WOTUS. In 2019 and 2020, the agencies repealed the prior WOTUS Rule and promulgated the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”) which significantly reduced the scope and oversight of EPA and the Department of the Army in traditionally non-navigable waterways. On August 30, 2021, a federal district court in Arizona vacated the NWPR and directed the agencies to replace the rule. On December 7, 2021, the EPA and the Department of the Army proposed a rule that would reinstate the pre-2015 definition, which was subject to public comment until February 7, 2022. The EPA and the USCG have also enacted rules relating to ballast water discharge, compliance with which requires the installation of equipment on our vessels to treat ballast water before it is discharged or the implementation of other port facility disposal arrangements or procedures at potentially substantial costs, and/or otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. Waters.
The EPA will regulate these ballast water discharges and other discharges incidental to the normal operation of certain vessels within United States waters pursuant to the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (“VIDA”), which was signed into law on
December 4, 2018 and replaces the 2013 Vessel General Permit (“VGP”) program (which authorizes discharges incidental to operations of commercial vessels and contains numeric ballast water discharge limits for most vessels to reduce the risk of invasive species in U.S. waters, stringent requirements for exhaust gas scrubbers, and requirements for the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants) and current Coast Guard ballast water management regulations adopted under the U.S. National Invasive Species Act (“NISA”), such as mid-ocean ballast exchange programs and installation of approved USCG technology for all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks bound for U.S. ports or entering U.S. waters. VIDA establishes a new framework for the regulation of vessel incidental discharges under Clean Water Act ("CWA"), requires the EPA to develop performance standards for those discharges within two years of enactment, and requires the U.S. Coast Guard to develop implementation, compliance, and enforcement regulations within two years of EPA’s promulgation of standards. Under VIDA, all provisions of the 2013 VGP and USCG regulations regarding ballast water treatment remain in force and effect until the EPA and U.S. Coast Guard regulations are finalized. Non-military, non-recreational vessels greater than 79 feet in length must continue to comply with the requirements of the VGP, including submission of a Notice of Intent (“NOI”) or retention of a PARI form and submission of annual reports. We have submitted NOIs for our vessels where required. Compliance with the EPA, U.S. Coast Guard and state regulations could require the installation of ballast water treatment equipment on our vessels or the implementation of other port facility disposal procedures at potentially substantial cost or may otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. waters.
European Union Regulations
In October 2009, the European Union amended a directive to impose criminal sanctions for illicit ship-source discharges of polluting substances, including minor discharges, if committed with intent, recklessly or with serious negligence and the discharges individually or in the aggregate result in deterioration of the quality of water. Aiding and abetting the discharge of a polluting substance may also lead to criminal penalties. The directive applies to all types of vessels, irrespective of their flag, but certain exceptions apply to warships or where human safety or that of the ship is in danger. Criminal liability for pollution may result in substantial penalties or fines and increased civil liability claims. Regulation (EU) 2015/757 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 (amending EU Directive 2009/16/EC) governs the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport, and, subject to some exclusions, requires companies with ships over 5,000 gross tonnage to monitor and report carbon dioxide emissions annually, which may cause us to incur additional expenses.
The European Union has adopted several regulations and directives requiring, among other things, more frequent inspections of high-risk ships, as determined by type, age, and flag as well as the number of times the ship has been detained. The European Union also adopted and extended a ban on substandard ships and enacted a minimum ban period and a definitive ban for repeated offenses. The regulation also provided the European Union with greater authority and control over classification societies, by imposing more requirements on classification societies and providing for fines or penalty payments for organizations that failed to comply. Furthermore, the EU has implemented regulations requiring vessels to use reduced sulfur content fuel for their main and auxiliary engines. The EU Directive 2005/33/EC (amending Directive 1999/32/EC) introduced requirements parallel to those in Annex VI relating to the sulfur content of marine fuels. In addition, the EU imposed a 0.1% maximum sulfur requirement for fuel used by ships at berth in the Baltic, the North Sea and the English Channel (the so called “SOx-Emission Control Area”). As of January 2020, EU member states must also ensure that ships in all EU waters, except the SOx-Emission Control Area, use fuels with a 0.5% maximum sulfur content.
On September 15, 2020, the European Parliament voted to include greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime sector in the European Union’s carbon market . On July 14, 2021, the European Parliament formally proposed its plan, which would involve gradually including the maritime sector from 2023 and phasing the sector in over a three-year period. This will require shipowners to buy permits to cover these emissions. Contingent on negotiations and a formal approval vote, the proposed regulations may not enter into force for another year or two.
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization (the “ILO”) is a specialized agency of the UN that has adopted the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 (“MLC 2006”). A Maritime Labor Certificate and a Declaration of Maritime Labor Compliance is required to ensure compliance with the MLC 2006 for all ships that are 500 gross tonnage or over and are either engaged in international voyages or flying the flag of a Member and operating from a port, or between ports, in another country. We believe that all our vessels are in substantial compliance with and are certified to meet MLC 2006.
Greenhouse Gas Regulation
Currently, the emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force in 2005 and pursuant to which adopting countries have been required to implement national programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with targets extended through 2020. International negotiations are continuing with respect to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, and restrictions on shipping emissions may be included in any new treaty. In December 2009, more than 27 nations, including the U.S. and China, signed the Copenhagen Accord, which includes a non-binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris resulted in the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016 and does not directly limit greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The U.S. initially entered into the agreement, but on June 1, 2017, the former U.S. President Trump announced that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and the withdrawal became effective on November 4, 2020. On January 20, 2021, U.S. President Biden signed an executive order to rejoin the Paris Agreement, which the U.S. officially rejoined on February 19, 2021.
At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, a draft outline of the structure of the initial strategy for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships was approved. In accordance with this roadmap, in April 2018, nations at the MEPC 72 adopted an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The initial strategy identifies “levels of ambition” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including (1) decreasing the carbon intensity from ships through implementation of further phases of the EEDI for new ships; (2) reducing carbon dioxide emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 emission levels; and (3) reducing the total annual greenhouse emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 while pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. The initial strategy notes that technological innovation, alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the overall ambition. These regulations could cause us to incur additional substantial expenses. At MEPC 77, the Member States agreed to initiate the revision of the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships, recognizing the need to strengthen the ambition during the revision process. A final draft Revised IMO GHG Strategy would be considered by MEPC 80 (scheduled to meet in spring 2023), with a view to adoption.
The EU made a unilateral commitment to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from its member states from 20% of 1990 levels by 2020. The EU also committed to reduce its emissions by 20% under the Kyoto Protocol’s second period from 2013 to 2020. Starting in January 2018, large ships over 5,000 gross tonnage calling at EU ports are required to collect and publish data on carbon dioxide emissions and other information. As previously discussed, regulations relating to the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime sector in the European Union’s carbon market are also forthcoming.
Any passage of climate control legislation or other regulatory initiatives by the IMO, the EU, the U.S. or other countries where we operate, or any treaty adopted at the international level to succeed the Kyoto Protocol or Paris Agreement, that restricts emissions of greenhouse gases could require us to make significant financial expenditures which we cannot predict with certainty at this time. Even in the absence of climate control legislation, our business may be indirectly affected to the extent that climate change may result in sea level changes or certain weather events.
Vessel Security Regulations
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States, there have been a variety of initiatives intended to enhance vessel security such as the MTSA. To implement certain portions of the MTSA, the USCG issued regulations requiring the implementation of certain security requirements aboard vessels operating in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and at certain ports and facilities, some of which are regulated by the EPA.
Similarly, Chapter XI-2 of the SOLAS Convention imposes detailed security obligations on vessels and port authorities and mandates compliance with the ISPS Code. The ISPS Code is designed to enhance the security of ports and ships against terrorism. To trade internationally, a vessel must attain an International Ship Security Certificate (“ISSC”) from a recognized security organization approved by the vessel’s flag state. Ships operating without a valid certificate may be detained, expelled from, or refused entry at port until they obtain an ISSC. The various requirements, some of which are found in the SOLAS Convention, include, for example, on-board installation of automatic identification systems to provide a means for the automatic transmission of safety-related information from among similarly equipped ships and shore stations, including information on a ship’s identity, position, course, speed and navigational status; on-board installation of ship security alert systems, which do not sound on the vessel but only alert the authorities on shore; the development of vessel security plans; ship identification number to be permanently marked on a vessel’s hull; a continuous synopsis record kept onboard showing a vessel's history including the name of the ship, the state whose flag the ship is entitled to fly, the date on which the ship was registered with that state, the ship's identification number, the port at which the ship is registered and the name of the registered owner(s) and their registered address; and compliance with flag state security certification requirements.
The USCG regulations, intended to align with international maritime security standards, exempt non-U.S. vessels from MTSA vessel security measures, provided such vessels have on board a valid ISSC that attests to the vessel’s compliance with the SOLAS Convention security requirements and the ISPS Code. Future security measures could have a significant financial impact on us. We intend to comply with the various security measures addressed by MTSA, the SOLAS Convention and the ISPS Code.
The cost of vessel security measures has also been affected by the escalation in the frequency of acts of piracy against ships, notably off the coast of Somalia, including the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea area. Substantial loss of revenue and other costs may be incurred as a result of detention of a vessel or additional security measures, and the risk of uninsured losses could significantly affect our business. Costs are incurred in taking additional security measures in accordance with Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy, notably those contained in the BMP4 industry standard.
Inspection by Classification Societies
The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society authorized by its country of registry. The classification society certifies that a vessel is safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and SOLAS. Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage and lending that a vessel be certified “in class” by a classification society which is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies, the IACS. The IACS has adopted harmonized Common Structural Rules (the "Rules"), which apply to oil tankers and bulk carriers contracted for construction on or after July 1, 2015. The Rules attempt to create a level of consistency between IACS Societies. All of our vessels are certified as being “in class” by all the applicable Classification Societies (e.g., American Bureau of Shipping, Lloyd's Register of Shipping).
A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys, drydockings and special surveys. In lieu of a special survey, a vessel’s machinery may be on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period. Every vessel is also required to be drydocked every 30 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater parts of the vessel. If any vessel does not maintain its class and/or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey, drydocking or special survey, the vessel will be unable to carry cargo between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable which could cause us to be in violation of certain covenants in our loan agreements. Any such inability to carry cargo or be employed, or any such violation of covenants, could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Risk of Loss and Liability Insurance
The operation of any cargo vessel includes risks such as mechanical failure, physical damage, collision, property loss, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries, piracy incidents, hostilities and labor strikes. In addition, there is always an inherent possibility of marine disaster, including oil spills and other environmental mishaps, and the liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade. OPA, which imposes virtually unlimited liability upon shipowners, operators and bareboat charterers of any vessel trading in the exclusive economic zone of the United States for certain oil pollution accidents in the United States, has made liability insurance more expensive for shipowners and operators trading in the United States market. We carry insurance coverage as customary in the shipping industry. However, not all risks can be insured, specific claims may be rejected, and we might not be always able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates.
We procure hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance, which includes environmental damage and pollution insurance and war risk insurance and freight, demurrage and defense insurance for our fleet.
Protection and Indemnity Insurance
Protection and indemnity insurance is provided by mutual protection and indemnity associations ("P&I Associations"), and covers our third-party liabilities in connection with our shipping activities. This includes third-party liability and other related expenses of injury or death of crew, passengers and other third parties, loss or damage to cargo, claims arising from collisions with other vessels, damage to other third-party property, pollution arising from oil or other substances, and salvage, towing and other related costs, including wreck removal. Protection and indemnity insurance is a form of mutual indemnity insurance, extended by protection and indemnity mutual associations (such associations, “clubs”).
Our current protection and indemnity insurance coverage for pollution is $1 billion per vessel per incident. The 13 P&I Associations that comprise the International Group insure approximately 90% of the world’s commercial tonnage and have entered into a pooling agreement to reinsure each association’s liabilities. The International Group’s website states that the Pool provides a mechanism for sharing all claims in excess of $10 million up to, currently, approximately $8.2 billion. As a member of a P&I Association, which is a member of the International Group, we are subject to calls payable to the associations based on our claim records as well as the claim records of all other members of the individual associations and members of the shipping pool of P&I Associations comprising the International Group.
C. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
See Exhibit 8.1 for a list of our significant subsidiaries.
D. PROPERTY, PLANT AND EQUIPMENT
The following table summarizes key information about our fleet as of March 23, 2022:
|Vessel ||Built||DWT||Flag||Type of Employment|
|Newcastlemax - Owned |
|Golden Gayle||2011||206,565||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Scape||2016||211,112||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Swift||2016||211,112||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Coral||2019||208,132||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Champion||2019||208,391||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Comfort||2020||208,000||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Courage||2020||208,395||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Confidence||2020||207,988||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Competence||2020||208,000||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Skies||2020||210,897||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Spirit||2020||210,866||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Saint||2020||211,138||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Spray||2021||208,000||MI||Spot market|
|Capesize - Owned |
|Golden Feng||2009||169,232||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Shui||2009||169,333||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Myrtalia||2011||177,979||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Anastasia||2014||179,189||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Houston||2014||181,214||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Kaki||2014||180,560||MI||Spot market|
|KSL Salvador||2014||180,958||HK||Index linked time charter|
|KSL San Francisco||2014||181,066||HK||Index linked time charter|
|KSL Santiago||2014||181,020||HK||Index linked time charter|
|KSL Santos||2014||181,055||HK||Index linked time charter|
|KSL Sapporo||2014||180,960||HK||Index linked time charter|
|KSL Seattle||2014||181,015||HK||Spot market|
|KSL Singapore||2014||181,062||HK||Index linked time charter|
|KSL Sydney||2014||181,009||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Amreen||2015||179,337||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Aso||2015||182,472||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Finsbury||2015||182,418||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Kathrine||2015||182,486||HK||Spot market|
|KSL Sakura||2015||181,062||HK||Index linked time charter|
|KSL Seoul||2015||181,010||HK||Spot market|
|KSL Seville||2015||181,003||HK||Index linked time charter|
|KSL Stockholm||2015||181,043||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Barnet||2016||180,355||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Behike||2016||180,491||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Bexley||2016||180,228||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Fulham||2016||182,610||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Monterrey||2016||180,491||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Nimbus||2017||180,504||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Savannah||2017||181,044||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Surabaya||2017||181,046||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Arcus||2018||180,478||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Calvus||2018||180,521||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Cirrus||2018||180,487||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Cumulus||2018||180,499||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Incus||2018||180,511||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Capesize - Operating Lease - Related Party, SFL|
|KSL China||2013||179,109||MI||Index linked time charter|
|Capesize - Finance Lease - Related Party, SFL|
|Golden Magnum||2009||179,788||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Beijing||2010||176,000||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Future||2010||176,000||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Zhejiang||2010||175,834||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Zhoushan||2011||175,834||HK||Spot market|
|Panamax - Operating Lease - Unrelated Third Party|
|Admiral Schmidt||2019||104,550||BA||Spot market|
|Vitus Bering||2019||104,550||BA||Spot market|
|Panamax - Owned |
|Golden Ice||2008||75,500||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Strength||2009||75,500||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Empress||2010||79,463||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Endeavour||2010||79,454||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Arion||2011||82,188||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Enterprise||2011||79,463||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Ioanari||2011||82,188||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Jake||2011||82,188||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Suek||2011||74,849||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Daisy||2012||81,507||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Ginger||2012||81,487||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Keen||2012||81,586||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Rose||2012||81,585||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Bull||2012||75,000||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Brilliant||2013||74,500||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Diamond||2013||74,186||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Pearl||2013||74,186||HK||Spot market|
|Golden Sue||2013||84,943||MI||Time charter |
|Golden Deb||2014||84,943||MI||Time charter |
|Golden Ruby||2014||74,052||HK||Index linked time charter|
|Golden Kennedy||2015||83,789||MI||Time charter |
|Golden Amber||2017||74,500||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Opal||2017||74,231||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Fortune||2020||81,600||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Fellow||2020||81,135||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Frost||2020||80,559||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Forward||2021||81,130||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Friend||2021||81,206||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Freeze||2021||81,000||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Fast||2021||81,000||MI||Spot market|
|Golden Furious||2021||81,000||MI||Spot market|
|Ultramax - Owned|
|Golden Cecilie||2015||60,263||HK||Time charter|
|Golden Cathrine||2015||60,000||HK||Time charter|
|Supramax - Operating Lease - Third party|
|Golden Hawk||2015||58,000||PAN||Time charter|
Key to Flags:
MI – Marshall Islands, HK – Hong Kong, PAN - Panama, BA - Bahamas.
Other than our interests in the vessels described above, we do not own or lease any other material physical properties, except for related party leases of our office space in Singapore and in Oslo.
ITEM 4A. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 5. OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS
A. OPERATING RESULTS
Summary of key information
The following table should also be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included herein. Our accounts are maintained in U.S. dollars.
| ||Fiscal year ended December 31,|
|(in thousands of $, except shares, per share data and ratios)|
|Statement of Operations Data:|
|Total operating revenues||1,203,181 ||607,943 ||705,799 |
|Total operating expenses||697,353 ||672,570 ||603,973 |
|Net operating (loss) income ||513,608 ||(61,662)||100,656 |
|Net income (loss) ||527,218 ||(137,669)||37,189 |
|Earnings (loss) per share: basic ($)||$2.74 ||($0.96)||$0.26 |
|Earnings (loss) per share: diluted ($)||$2.73 ||($0.96)||$0.26 |
|Dividends per share ($)||$1.60 ||$0.05 ||$0.33 |
|Balance Sheet Data (at end of year):|
|Cash and cash equivalents||197,032 ||153,093 ||153,060 |
|Short-term restricted cash||12,985 ||22,009 ||10,184 |
|Vessels and equipment, net||2,880,321 ||2,267,686 ||2,340,753 |
|Finance leases, right of use assets, net||98,535 ||113,480 ||193,987 |
|Operating leases, right of use assets, net||19,965 ||22,739 ||54,853 |
|Total assets||3,454,177 ||2,721,067 ||2,966,057 |
|Current portion of long-term debt||105,864 ||87,831 ||87,787 |
|Current portion of obligations under finance lease||21,755 ||23,475 ||17,502 |
|Current portion of obligations under operating lease||13,860 ||16,783 ||14,377 |
|Long-term debt||1,156,481 ||957,652 ||1,026,083 |
|Obligations under finance lease||105,975 ||127,730 ||151,206 |
|Obligations under operating lease||14,907 ||25,254 ||42,010 |
|Share capital||10,061 ||7,215 ||7,215 |
|Total equity||1,928,741 ||1,368,756 ||1,513,391 |
|Common shares outstanding||200,435,621 ||143,327,697 ||143,277,697 |
|Other Financial Data:|
Equity to assets ratio (percentage) (1)
|55.8 ||%||50.3 ||%||51.0 ||%|
Debt to equity ratio (2)
|0.7 ||0.9 ||0.8 |
Price earnings ratio (3)
|3.4 ||(4.8)||22.4 |
Time charter equivalent income (4)
|948,757 ||426,372 ||536,604 |
Time charter equivalent rate (5)
|27,582 ||13,466 ||16,779 |
(1)Equity to assets ratio is calculated as total equity divided by total assets.
(2)Debt to equity ratio is calculated as total interest bearing current and long-term liabilities divided by total equity.
(3)Price earnings ratio is calculated using the year end share price divided by basic (loss) earnings per share.
(4)A reconciliation of time charter equivalent income ("TCE income"), to total operating revenues as reflected in the consolidated statements of operation is as follows:
|(in thousands of $)||2021||2020||2019|
|Total operating revenues||1,203,181 ||607,943 ||705,799 |
|Add: Amortization of favorable charter party contracts||1,859 ||12,148 ||18,732 |
|Add: Other operating income / (expenses)||(2,008)||2,965 ||(1,170)|
|Less: Other revenues||1,410 ||2,140 ||1,669 |
|Net time and voyage charter revenues||1,201,622 ||620,916 ||721,692 |
|Less: Voyage expenses & commission||252,865 ||194,544 ||185,088 |
|Time charter equivalent income||948,757 ||426,372 ||536,604 |
Consistent with general practice in the shipping industry, we use TCE income as a measure to compare revenue generated from a voyage charter to revenue generated from a time charter. We define TCE income as operating revenues less voyage expenses and commission plus amortization of time charter party out contracts. Under time charter agreements, voyage costs, such as bunker fuel, canal and port charges and commissions, are borne and paid by the charterer whereas under voyage charter agreements, voyage costs are borne and paid by the owner. TCE income is a common shipping industry performance measure used primarily to compare period-to-period changes in a shipping company’s performance despite changes in the mix of charter types (i.e., spot charters and time charters) under which the vessels may be employed between the periods. TCE income, a non-U.S. GAAP measure, provides additional meaningful information in conjunction with operating revenues, the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP measure, because it assists management in making decisions regarding the deployment and use of our vessels and in evaluating their financial performance, regardless of whether a vessel has been employed on a time charter or a voyage charter.
(5)Time charter equivalent rate ("TCE rate"), represents the weighted average daily TCE income of our entire operating fleet.
|(in thousands of $, except for TCE Rate and days)||2021||2020||2019|
|Time charter equivalent income||948,757 ||426,372 ||536,604 |
|Fleet available days||35,114 ||32,867 ||32,872 |
|Fleet offhire days||(716)||(1,204)||(892)|
|Fleet onhire days||34,398 ||31,663 ||31,980 |
|Time charter equivalent rate||27,582 ||13,466 ||16,779 |
TCE rate is a measure of the average daily income performance, following alignment of the revenue streams resulting from operation of the vessels under voyage or spot charters and time charters, as detailed in footnote 5 above. Our method of calculating TCE rate is determined by dividing TCE income by onhire days during a reporting period. Onhire days are calculated on a vessel by vessel basis and represent the net of available days and offhire days for each vessel (owned or chartered in) in our possession during a reporting period. Available days for a vessel during a reporting period is the number of days the vessel (owned or chartered in) is in our possession during the period. By definition, available days for an owned vessel equal the calendar days during a reporting period, unless the vessel is delivered by the yard during the relevant period whereas; available days for a chartered-in vessel equal the tenure in days of the underlying time charter agreement, pro-rated to the relevant reporting period if such tenure overlaps more than one reporting periods. Offhire days for a vessel during a reporting period is the number of days the vessel is in our possession during the period but is not operational as a result of unscheduled repairs, scheduled drydocking or special or intermediate surveys and lay-ups, if any.
Overview of fleet
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with "Item 4. Information on the Company" and the audited Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes thereto included herein.
As of December 31, 2021, we owned 81 dry bulk vessels and had construction contracts for seven newbuildings. In addition, we had 11 vessels chartered-in (of which seven and one are chartered in on finance leases and operating leases, respectively from SFL and three chartered in on operating leases from unrelated third parties. Our owned vessels are owned and operated by one of our subsidiaries and are flagged either in the Marshall Islands, Hong Kong, Bahamas or Panama. As of December 31,
2021, eight of our vessels were chartered-out on fixed rate time charters, 30 of our vessels were chartered out on index linked rate time charters, 54 vessels operated in the spot market.
Refer to "Item 4. Information on the Company - A. History and Development of the Company" for a discussion on acquisitions and disposals of vessels during the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020, and 2019. A summary of the changes in the vessels that we own and chartered in under long-term operating and finance leases for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019 is summarized below.
|At start of period||3 ||3 ||3 |
|Acquisitions and newbuilding deliveries||10 ||a||— ||— |
|At end of period||13 ||3 ||3 |
|At start of period||43 ||43 ||43 |
|Acquisitions and newbuilding deliveries ||— ||— ||— |
|Disposals ||— ||— ||— |
|Chartered in/owned by joint venture||— ||— ||— |
|At end of period||43 ||43 ||43 |
|At start of period||29 ||30 ||28 |
|Acquisitions and newbuilding deliveries||8 ||b||— ||— |
|Disposals ||(4)||c||(1)||e||— |
|Chartered in/owned by joint venture||— ||— ||2 ||d|
|At end of period||33 ||29 ||30 |
|At start of period||3 ||3 ||3 |
|Acquisitions and newbuilding deliveries||— ||— ||— |
|Disposals ||— ||— ||— |
|At end of period||3 ||3 ||3 |
|At start of period||78 ||79 ||77 |
|Acquisitions and newbuilding deliveries||18 ||— ||— |
|Disposals ||(4)||(1)||— |
|Chartered in/owned by joint venture||— ||— ||2 |
|92 ||78 ||79 |
a.(i) Delivery of one newbuilding (Golden Spray) and (ii) delivery of nine vessels (Golden Coral, Golden Champion, Golden Comfort, Golden Courage, Golden Competence, Golden Confidence, Golden Skies, Golden Spirit and Golden Saint) acquired from affiliates of Hemen.
b.(i) Delivery of two newbuildings (Golden Fast and Golden Furious) and (ii) delivery of six vessels (Golden Fortune, Golden Forward, Golden Friend, Golden Fellow, Golden Frost and Golden Freeze) acquired from affiliates of Hemen.
c.Disposal of four vessels (Golden Shea, Golden Saguenay, Golden Opportunity and Golden Endurer) to unrelated third parties.
d.Time charter-in of two vessels (Vitus Bering and Admiral Schmidt) from an unrelated third party.
e.Redelivery of one vessel (Golden Eclipse) following the expiration of the lease in April 2020.
Summary of Fleet Employment
As discussed below, as of December 31, 2021, our vessels operated under time charters or voyage charters.
A time charter agreement is a contract entered into by an owner and a charterer whereby the charterer is entitled to the use of a vessel for a specific period of time for a specified daily fixed or index-linked rate of hire. Under a time charter agreement, voyage costs, such as bunker fuel and port charges, are borne and paid by the charterer. In the time charter market, rates vary depending on the length of the charter period and vessel specific factors such as age, speed and fuel consumption. An index-linked rate usually refers to freight rate indices issued by the Baltic Exchange, such as the Baltic Capesize Index and the Baltic Panamax Index. These rates are based on actual charter hire rates under charter entered into by market participants, as well as daily assessments provided to the Baltic Exchange by a panel of major shipbrokers.
A voyage or spot charter agreement is a contract entered into by an owner and a charterer whereby a charterer is entitled to the use of a vessel to transport commodities between specified geographical locations at a specified freight rate per ton. Under voyage charter agreements, voyage costs are borne and paid by the owner. In the voyage charter market, rates are also influenced by cargo size, commodity, port dues and canal transit fees, as well as delivery and redelivery regions. In general, a larger cargo size is quoted at a lower rate per ton than a smaller cargo size. Routes with costly ports or canals generally command higher rates than routes with low port dues and no canals to transit. Voyages with a load port within a region that includes ports where vessels usually discharge cargo or a discharge port within a region with ports where vessels load cargo are generally quoted at lower rates, because such voyages generally increase vessel utilization by reducing the unloaded portion (or ballast leg) that is included in the calculation of the return charter to a loading area.
In 2021 several of our vessels were trading under revenue sharing arrangements or pools that are primarily exposed to the spot market. During the year, 34 of our Capesize and Newcastlemax vessels that traded in the CCL pool contributed with an average of 256 days per vessel. In August 2021, we announced termination of our relationship with CCL pool, and by December 31, 2021, the last vessels had been redelivered to us.
In addition, during 2021, three of our Ultramax vessels traded in C Transport Holding Ltd.'s pool for Supramax vessels, and as of December 31, 2021, all three vessels were redelivered to us.
| ||As of December 31,|
| ||Number of vessels||Percentage of fleet||Number of vessels||Percentage of fleet||Number of vessels||Percentage of fleet|
|Spot ||8||61.5 ||%||2 ||66.7 ||%||1 ||33.3 ||%|
|Spot with RSA||— ||— ||— ||— ||1 ||33.3 ||%|
|Time charter||— ||— ||1 ||33.3 ||%||— ||— |
|Index linked time charter||5||38.5 ||%||— ||— ||1 ||33.3 ||%|
|13 ||100.0 ||%||3 ||100.0 ||%||3 ||100.0 ||%|
|Spot ||22||51.2 ||%||1 ||2.3 ||%||— ||— |
|Spot with RSA||— ||— ||23 ||53.5 ||%||25 ||58.1 ||%|
|Time charter||— ||— ||1 ||2.3 ||%||3 ||7.0 ||%|
|Index linked time charter||21||48.8 ||%||18 ||41.9 ||%||15 ||34.9 ||%|
|43 ||100.0 ||%||43 ||100.0 ||%||43 ||100.0 ||%|
|Spot ||24||72.7 ||%||23 ||79.3 ||%||22 ||73.3 ||%|
|Spot with RSA||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Time charter||5||15.2 ||%||6 ||20.7 ||%||8 ||26.7 ||%|
|Index linked time charter||4||12.1 ||%||— ||— ||— ||— |
|33 ||100.0 ||%||29 ||100.0 ||%||30 ||100.0 ||%|
|Spot ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Spot with RSA||— ||— ||3 ||100.0 ||%||3 ||100.0 ||%|
|Time charter||3||100.0 ||%||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Index linked time charter||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|3 ||100.0 ||%||3 ||100.0 ||%||3 ||100.0 ||%|