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|
the fiscal year ended |
|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|
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter and translation of Registrant’s name into English)
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(Address of principal executive office)
(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(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
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.
Common Stock, par value U.S. $0.001 per share: as of December 31, 2021
Series A Cumulative Convertible Preferred Shares, par value U.S. $0.001 per share: as of December 31, 2021
Warrants to purchase Common Stock, par value of $0.001 per share: as of December 31, 2021
by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐
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. Yes ☐
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.
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.
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 definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||☐||Accelerated filer||☐||☒|
|Emerging growth company|
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
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.
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
by the International Accounting Standards Board ☐
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: Item 17 ☐ Item 18 ☐
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). Yes ☐
(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court. Yes ☐ No ☐
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS|
|Item 1.||Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers||1|
|Item 2.||Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable||1|
|Item 3.||Key Information||1|
|Item 4.||Information on the Company||30|
|Item 4A.||Unresolved Staff Comments||51|
|Item 5.||Operating and Financial Review and Prospects||51|
|Item 6.||Directors, Senior Management and Employees||68|
|Item 7.||Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions||72|
|Item 8.||Financial Information||74|
|Item 9.||The Offer and Listing||75|
|Item 10.||Additional Information||76|
|Item 11.||Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk||88|
|Item 12.||Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities||90|
|Item 13.||Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies||91|
|Item 14.||Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds||91|
|Item 15.||Controls and Procedures||91|
|Item 16A.||Audit Committee Financial Expert||91|
|Item 16B.||Code of Ethics||91|
|Item 16C.||Principal Accountant Fees and Services||92|
|Item 16D.||Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees||92|
|Item 16E.||Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers||92|
|Item 16F.||Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant||92|
|Item 16G.||Corporate Governance||92|
|Item 16H.||Mine Safety Disclosure||93|
|Item 16I.||Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections||93|
|Item 17.||Financial Statements||94|
|Item 18.||Financial Statements||94|
Unless otherwise indicated in this Annual Report on Form 20-F (“Annual Report”), “Pyxis,” the “Company,” “we,” “us” and “our” refer to Pyxis Tankers Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries.
Our audited consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or “U.S. GAAP” or “GAAP”.
All references in this Annual Report to “$,” “US$,” “U.S.$,” “U.S. dollars,” “dollars” and “USD” mean U.S. dollars and all references to “€” and “euros,” mean euros, unless otherwise noted.
Our disclosure and analysis in this Annual Report pertaining to our operations, cash flows and financial position, including, in particular, the likelihood of our success in developing and expanding our business and making acquisitions, include forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements that are predictive in nature, that depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, or that include words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates,” “seeks,” “targets,” “continue,” “contemplate,” “possible,” “likely,” “might,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “projects,” “forecasts,” “potential”, “may,” “should” and similar expressions are forward-looking statements. All statements in this Annual Report that are not statements of either historical or current facts are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, such matters as our future operating or financial results, global and regional economic and political conditions, including piracy, pending vessel acquisitions, our business strategy and expected capital spending or operating expenses, including dry-docking and insurance costs, competition in the product tanker industry, statements about shipping market trends, including charter rates and factors affecting supply and demand, our financial condition and liquidity, including our ability to obtain financing in the future to fund capital expenditures, acquisitions and other general corporate activities, our ability to enter into fixed-rate charters after our current charters expire and our ability to earn income in the spot market and our expectations of the availability of vessels to purchase, the time it may take to construct new vessels, and vessels’ useful lives. Many of these statements are based on our assumptions about factors that are beyond our ability to control or predict and are subject to risks and uncertainties that are described more fully under the “Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report. Any of these factors or a combination of these factors could materially affect our future results of operations and the ultimate accuracy of the forward-looking statements.
Factors that might cause future results to differ include, but are not limited to, the following:
|●||changes in governmental rules and regulations or actions and compliance, including environmental and securities matters, taken by regulatory authorities;|
|●||changes in economic and competitive conditions affecting our business, including market fluctuations in charter rates and charterers’ abilities to perform under existing time charters;|
|●||our future operating or financial results;|
|●||our continued borrowing availability under our existing and future 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;|
|●||our ability to successfully employ our vessels, including under time charters;|
|●||changes in our operating expenses, including bunker fuel prices, dry docking costs, general and administrative expenses and insurance costs, including adequacy of coverage;|
|●||our ability to fund future capital expenditures and investments in the acquisition and refurbishment of our vessels (including the amount and nature thereof and the timing of completion thereof, the delivery and commencement of operations dates, expected downtime and lost revenue);|
|●||planned, pending or recent acquisitions and divestitures, business strategy and expected capital spending or operating expenses, including drydocking, surveys, upgrades and insurance costs;|
|●||vessel breakdowns and instances of off-hire;|
|●||potential claims or liability from future litigation, government inquiries and investigations and potential costs due to environmental damage and vessel collisions;|
|●||the arrest or detention of our vessels by maritime claimants or governmental authorities;|
|●||any disruption of information technology systems and networks that our operations rely on or any impact of a possible cybersecurity breach;|
|●||general product tanker shipping market trends, including fluctuations in charter hire rates and vessel values and their useful lives;|
|●||changes in supply and demand in the product tanker shipping industry, including the market for our vessels and the number of newbuildings under construction;|
|●||changes in economic and competitive conditions affecting our business, including market fluctuations in charter rates and charterers’ abilities to perform under existing time charters;|
|●||disruption of world trade due to rising protectionism, breakdown of multilateral trade agreements, acts of piracy, terrorism, political events, public health threats, international hostilities, including the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine and instability;|
|●||fluctuations in interest rates, including the impact on our debt of the discontinuance of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, after 2023, and foreign exchange rates;|
|●||changes in seaborne and other transportation;|
|●||business disruptions due to natural disasters and health catastrophes, such as the Coronavirus and its variants (“COVID-19”);|
|●||the length and severity of epidemics and pandemics, including the ongoing global outbreak of COVID-19 and its impact on the demand for seaborne transportation in the tanker sector;|
|●||any non-compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 or other applicable regulations relating to bribery or corruption;|
|●||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;|
|●||general domestic and international political conditions; the length and number of off-hire periods and dependence on key employees and third-party managers; and|
|●||other factors discussed under the “Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors” in this Annual Report and please see the Company’s other filings with the SEC for a more complete discussion of certain of these and other risks and uncertainties.|
You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report, because they are statements about events that are not certain to occur as described or at all. All forward-looking statements in this Annual Report are qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained in this Annual Report. 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. 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.
ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk Factors
Investing in our securities is highly speculative and involves a high degree of risk. Before making an investment in our securities, you should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as other information included or incorporated by reference in this Annual report before deciding to invest in our securities. The summary of risk factors below is qualified in its entirety by the more fulsome risk factors that follow.
Summary of Risk Factors
Risks Related to Our Industry
|●||World events, including recent hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition;|
|●||Our vessels may be exposed to international and inherent operational risks that may reduce revenue or increase expenses.|
|●||Our revenues are derived substantially from a single segment where charter hire rates for product tankers are cyclical and volatile.|
|●||The continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the emergence of other epidemic or pandemic crises, could have material adverse effects on our business, results of operations or financial condition.|
|●||An over-supply of product tanker capacity may lead to reductions in charter rates, vessel values and profitability.|
|●||Increased demand for and supply of “eco-efficient” vessels, including some tankers which have installed exhaust gas cleaning systems, i.e. “scrubbers” to reduce sulphur emissions and permit use of cheaper fuel, could reduce demand for certain of our vessels that are not classified as such and expose us to lower vessel utilization and/or decreased charter rates.|
|●||The current global economic condition and financial environment, including an economic slowdown or changes in the economic and political environment in Europe and the Asia Pacific region, could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.|
|●||Increases in prices for fuel, or bunkers, may adversely affect results of operations.|
|●||If our vessels call on ports located in or operate in countries or territories that are the subject of sanctions or embargoes imposed by the United States, Russian the European Union, the United Nations, or other governmental authorities, it could result in monetary fines and penalties and adversely affect our reputation and the market price of our common shares.|
|●||Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency.|
|●||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.|
|●||We are subject to increasingly complex laws and regulations, including environmental and safety laws and regulations, which expose us to liability and significant expenditures, and can adversely affect our insurance coverage and our business.|
|●||We will incur additional costs to retrofit ballast water treatment systems in our vessels to comply with new regulations.|
|●||Safety and environmental requirements relating to the recycling of vessels may result in escalated and unexpected costs.|
|●||Climate change and greenhouse gas restrictions may adversely impact our operations, markets and capital sources.|
|●||Technological innovation and quality and efficiency requirements from our customers could reduce our charter hire income, future performance and financial condition.|
Risks Related to Our Business and Operations
|●||We recently had a working capital deficit and may not be able to fund our ongoing operations.|
|●||We operate in highly competitive international markets.|
|●||We may be unable to secure medium- and long-term employment for our vessels at profitable rates and present and future vessel employment could be adversely affected by an inability to clear the oil majors’ risk assessment process.|
|●||A substantial portion of our revenues is derived from a limited number of customers, and the loss of any of these customers could result in a significant loss of revenues and cash flow.|
|●||The Company’s growth depends on its ability to expand relationships with existing customers and obtain new customers, for which it will face substantial competition.|
|●||We depend on International Tanker Management (“ITM”) and Maritime to operate our business, and our business could be harmed if they fail to perform their services satisfactorily.|
|●||The Company does not plan to install scrubbers and may have to pay more for fuel which could adversely affect the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.|
|●||We may not be able to implement our business strategy successfully or manage our growth effectively.|
|●||Purchase and operation of secondhand vessels can expose us to increased operating costs, which could adversely affect our earnings, and the risks associated with older vessels could adversely affect our ability to obtain profitable charters.|
|●||Declines in charter rates and other market deterioration could cause us to incur impairment charges.|
|●||Our founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer has affiliations with Maritime, which may create conflicts of interest.|
|●||Our insurance may be insufficient to cover losses that may result from our operations.|
Risks Related to Our Common Stock
|●||The market price of our common stock has fluctuated widely and may fluctuate in the future.|
|●||Future sales of our common shares could cause the market price of our common shares to decline.|
|●||We may not generate sufficient cash to service our obligations, including our obligations under the Series A Convertible Preferred Shares.|
|●||We do not intend to pay common stock dividends in the near future and cannot assure you that we will ever pay such dividends.|
|●||If our common stock does not meet the NASDAQ’s minimum share price requirement, and if we cannot cure such deficiency within the prescribed timeframe, our common stock could be delisted.|
|●||Various tax rules may adversely impact the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.|
|●||Depending on U.S. tax authorities’ treatment of the Company, there could be adverse tax consequences to U.S. holders.|
Risks Related to Our Industry
World events could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Recent hostilities between Russia and Ukraine and the response of the United States and its allies to these hostilities, as well as the threat of future wars, hostilities, terrorist attacks, continue to cause uncertainty in the world financial markets and may affect our business, operating results and financial condition. The continuing conflict in Ukraine may lead to additional armed conflicts, which may contribute to further economic instability in the global financial markets. These uncertainties could also adversely affect our ability to obtain any additional financing or, if we are able to obtain additional financing, to do so on terms favorable to us. In the past, political conflicts have also resulted in attacks on vessels, mining of waterways and other efforts to disrupt international shipping. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to pay cash dividends on our Series A Convertible Preferred Stock.
We operate our vessels worldwide and as a result, our vessels are exposed to international and inherent operational risks that may reduce revenue or increase expenses.
The international shipping industry is an inherently risky business involving global operations. The operation of ocean-going vessels in international trade is affected by a number of risks. Our vessels and their cargoes will be at risk of being damaged or lost because of events, including bad weather, grounding, fire, explosions, mechanical failure, vessel and cargo property loss or damage, hostilities, labor strikes, adverse weather conditions, stowaways, placement on our vessels of illegal drugs and other contraband by smugglers, war, terrorism, piracy, human error, environmental accidents generally, collisions and other catastrophic natural and marine disasters. An accident involving any of our vessels could result in death or injury to persons, loss of property or environmental damage, delays in the delivery of cargo, affect our shipping routes, damage to our customer relationships, loss of revenues from or termination of charter contracts, governmental fines, increased litigation costs, penalties or restrictions on conducting business or higher insurance rates. International shipping is also subject to various security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin and destination and transhipment points. Inspection procedures can result in the seizure of cargo and/or our vessels, delays in the loading, offloading or delivery and the levying of customs duties, fines or other penalties against us, and increased legal costs.
A spill of cargoes may cause significant environmental damage, and the associated costs could exceed the insurance coverage available to the Company. Compared to other types of vessels, tankers are exposed to a higher risk of damage and loss by fire, whether ignited by a terrorist attack, collision, or other cause, due to the high flammability and high volume of the refined petroleum products transported in tankers. If the Company’s vessels suffer damage, they may need to be repaired at a drydocking facility. The costs of drydock repairs are unpredictable and may be substantial. The Company may have to pay drydocking costs that its insurance does not cover in full. The loss of revenues while these vessels are being repaired and repositioned, as well as the actual cost of these repairs, may adversely affect the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, the Company may be unable to find space at a suitable drydocking facility or its vessels may be forced to travel to a drydocking facility that is not conveniently located to the 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 the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition. Further, the total loss of any of the Company’s vessels could harm its reputation as a safe and reliable vessel owner and operator. If the Company is unable to adequately maintain or safeguard its vessels, it may be unable to prevent any such damage, costs, or loss which could negatively impact its business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our revenues are derived substantially from a single segment where charter hire rates for product tankers are cyclical and volatile.
Substantially all of our revenues are derived from a single market, the product tanker segment, and therefore our financial results depend on chartering activities and developments in this segment. The product tanker market is cyclical and volatile in charter hire rates and therefore charter rates payable under any replacement charters and vessel values will depend upon, among other things, economic conditions in the product tanker market at that time and changes in the supply and demand for vessel capacity. Any renewal or replacement charters that the Company enters into may not be sufficient to allow the Company to operate its vessels profitably. If charter hire rates remain depressed or fall further in the future when our charters expire, we may be unable to re-charter our vessels at rates as favorable to us, with the result that our earnings and available cash flow will continue to be adversely affected. In addition, a decline in charter hire rates may cause the value of our vessels to decline. Additionally, product tanker markets are typically stronger in the winter months as a result of increased refined petroleum products consumption in the northern hemisphere and weaker in the summer months as a result of lower consumption in the northern hemisphere and refinery maintenance that is typically conducted in the summer months. If increased revenues generated in the fall/winter months are not sufficient to offset any decreases in revenue in the spring/summer months, it may have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Charter hire rates depend on the demand for, and supply of, product tanker vessels.
The factors that influence the demand for product tanker vessel capacity are unpredictable and outside of our control, and include, among others:
|●||demand and supply for refined petroleum products and other liquid bulk products such as vegetable and edible oils;|
|●||competition from alternative sources of energy and a shift in consumer demand towards other energy resources such as wind, solar or water energy as well as greater use of electric powered vehicles;|
|●||the globalization of manufacturing and developments of transportation services;|
|●||increases in the production of refined petroleum products in areas linked by pipelines to consuming areas, the extension of existing, or the development of new, pipeline systems in markets we may serve, or the conversion of existing non-oil pipelines to refined petroleum products pipelines in those areas;|
|●||the distance oil and refined petroleum products are moved by sea and changes in transportation patterns;|
|●||competition from other shipping companies and other modes of transportation, such as railroads that compete with product tankers;|
|●||global and regional economic and political conditions, including armed conflicts, terrorist activities, and strikes; environmental and other regulatory developments;|
|●||weather, natural and health disasters, such as COVID-19, developments in international trade generally;|
|●||international sanctions, embargoes, import and export restrictions, nationalizations and wars; and|
|●||currency exchange rates.|
The factors that influence the supply of product tanker vessel capacity are also outside of our control and unpredictable and include, among others:
|●||demand for refined petroleum products and other liquid bulk products such as vegetable and edible oils;|
|●||availability and pricing of other energy resources such as natural gas;|
|●||the number of product tanker newbuilding deliveries;|
|●||the efficiency and age of the global product tanker fleet;|
|●||the demolition prices and scrapping rate of older product tankers or casualties;|
|●||the cost of newbuildings and the cost of retrofitting or modifying secondhand product tankers as a result of charterer requirements;|
|●||shipyard capacity, financial condition and new vessel construction throughput/delays in deliveries;|
|●||availability, terms and cost of capital;|
|●||cost and supply of labor;|
|●||technological innovations and advances in product tanker design and capacity, including the introduction and operating performance of scrubbers;|
|●||conversion of product tankers to other uses and the conversion of other vessels to product tankers;|
|●||product tanker freight rates, whether time or spot charters;|
|●||port and canal congestion and supply chain disruption;|
|●||the cost of bunkers and fuel oil, and their impact on vessel speed; currency exchange rate fluctuations;|
|●||changes in governmental or maritime self-regulatory organizations’ rules and regulations or actions taken by regulatory authorities, including those that may limit the useful life product tankers; and|
|●||the number of product tankers that are out of service.|
These factors influencing the supply of and demand for product tanker capacity and charter rates are outside of our control, and we may not be able to correctly assess the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully charter our product tankers in the future at all or at rates sufficient to allow us to meet our contractual obligations, including repayment of our indebtedness.
Furthermore, if new product tankers are built that are more efficient, more flexible, have longer physical lives or use more environmentally friendly fuel than our vessels, competition from these more technologically advanced vessels could adversely affect the amount of charter hire payments we receive for our vessels once their initial charters expire and the resale value of our vessels could significantly decrease.
Our financial results and operations may 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, and a number of countries implemented 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. 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 product tankers 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 product tankers and other shipping sectors, as we experienced in 2020-2021 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 product tankers 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. 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.
Moreover, COVID-19 and governmental and other measures related to it have led to a highly difficult environment in which to acquire and dispose of vessels given difficulty to physically inspect vessels. In addition, the location, cost and timing of vessel drydockings have been affected. The impact of COVID-19 has also resulted in reduced industrial activity globally, and more specifically, in China with temporary closures of factories and other facilities, labor shortages and restrictions on travel.
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, while 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 on our Series A Convertible Preferred Stock.
An over-supply of product tanker capacity may lead to reductions in charter rates, vessel values and profitability.
The market supply of product tankers is affected by a number of factors such as the demand for energy resources, oil, petroleum and chemical products, the level of current and expected charter hire rates, asset and newbuilding prices and the availability of financing, as well as overall global economic growth in parts of the world economy, including Asia, and has been increasing as a result of the delivery of substantial newbuilding orders over the last few years.
There has been a global trend towards energy efficient technologies, lower environmental emissions and alternative sources of energy. In the long-term, demand for oil may be reduced by increased availability of such energy sources and machines that run on them. Furthermore, if the capacity of new ships delivered exceeds the capacity of product tankers being scrapped and lost, product tanker capacity will increase. If the supply of product tanker capacity increases and if the demand for product tanker capacity does not increase correspondingly, charter rates and vessel values could materially decline. In addition, product tankers currently used to transport crude oil and other “dirty” products may be “cleaned up” and reintroduced into the product tanker market, which would increase the available product tanker tonnage which may affect the supply and demand balance for product tankers. These changes could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial position.
Furthermore, over the last 10 years, a number of vessel owners have ordered and taken delivery of so-called “eco-efficient” vessel designs, which offer significant bunker savings as compared to older designs. Increased demand for and supply of “eco-efficient” vessels could reduce demand for the “Pyxis Malou” that is not classified as such and expose us to lower vessel utilization and/or decreased charter rates.
An economic slowdown or changes in the economic and political environment in the Asia Pacific region could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We anticipate a significant number of the port calls made by our vessels will continue to involve the loading or discharging of cargoes in ports in the Asia Pacific region. As a result, any negative changes in economic conditions in any Asia Pacific country, particularly in China, may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, as well as our future prospects. We cannot assure you that the Chinese economy will not experience a significant contraction in the future, especially in light of the impact of new variants of COVID-19. In January, 2022, the IMF lowered its growth estimate for China to 4.8% in 2022 due to disruptions within the housing sector, including the impact to the domestic construction industry, as well as the country’s zero-tolerance to the disease leading to reduce mobility and slower economic growth.
Although state-owned enterprises still account for a substantial portion of the Chinese industrial output, in general, the Chinese government is adjusting the level of direct control that it exercises over the economy through state plans and other measures. If the Chinese government does not continue to pursue a policy of economic reform, the level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by changes to these economic reforms by the Chinese government, as well as by changes in political, economic and social conditions or other relevant policies of the Chinese government, such as changes in laws, regulations or export and import restrictions. Moreover, an economic slowdown in the economies of the European Union (“EU”) and other Asian countries may further adversely affect economic growth in China and elsewhere. Also, several initiatives are underway in China with a view to reduce their dependency on (foreign) oil, such as the Net Zero 2060 initiative and development of shale oil on their own territory, which could impact the need for oil products transportation services. The method by which China attempts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and any attendant reduction in the demand for oil, petroleum and related products, could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flows and results of operations.
In addition, concerns regarding the possibility of sovereign debt defaults by EU member countries, including Greece, have in the past disrupted financial markets throughout the world, and may lead to weaker consumer demand in the EU, the United States, and other parts of the world.
Global economic conditions may negatively impact the product tanker industry and we face risks attendant in economic and regulatory conditions around the world.
As the shipping industry is highly dependent on the availability of credit to finance and expand operations, it can be negatively affected by decline in available credit facilities. Any weakening in global economic conditions may have a number of adverse consequences for product tankers and other shipping sectors, including, among other things:
|●||low charter rates, particularly for vessels employed in the spot market;|
|●||decreases in the market value of product tankers; and demand for transport of refined petroleum products;|
|●||limited financing for vessels;|
|●||widespread loan covenant defaults; and|
|●||declaration of bankruptcy by certain vessel operators, vessel owners, shipyards and charterers.|
The occurrence of one or more of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends on our Series A Convertible Preferred Stock.
In recent years there have been continuing trade tensions, including significant tariff increases, between the United States and China. Protectionist developments, or the perception that they may occur, may have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions, and may significantly reduce global trade, including an increase in (a) the cost of goods exported from regions globally, (b) the length of time required to transport goods and (c) the risks associated with exporting goods. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and our ability to pay cash dividends on our Series A Convertible Preferred Stock.
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 on our Series A Convertible Preferred Stock, 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.
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.
On March 8, 2022, President Biden issued an executive order prohibiting the import of certain Russian energy products into the United States, including crude oil, petroleum, petroleum fuels, oils, liquefied natural gas and coal. Additionally, the executive order prohibits any investments in the Russian energy sector by US persons, among other restrictions.
Changes in fuel, or bunkers, prices may adversely affect results of operations.
Fuel, or bunkers, is a significant expense in shipping operations for our vessels employed on the spot market and changes in the price of fuel may adversely affect the Company’s profitability and can have a significant impact on earnings. With respect to our vessels employed on time charter, the charterer is generally responsible for the cost and supply of fuel, but such cost may affect the charter rates we are able to negotiate for our vessels. 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 OPEC and other oil and gas producers, war and unrest in oil producing countries and regions, regional production patterns and environmental concerns and regulations. The cost of fuel is a significant factor in negotiating charter rates and can affect us in both direct and indirect ways. This cost will be borne by us when our tankers are not employed or are employed on voyage charters. Even where the cost of fuel is borne by the charterer, which is the case with all of our existing time charters, that cost may affect the level of charter rates that charterers are prepared to pay. In addition, as of January 1, 2020 the entry into force of the 0.5% global sulfur cap in marine fuels under the International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships (“MARPOL”) Annex VI has initially led to a significant increase in the costs for low sulfur fuel used by vessels that are not equipped with exhaust gas scrubbers. None of our tankers have exhaust gas scrubbers, which may make them less competitive (compared with ships equipped with exhaust gas scrubbers that can utilize the less expensive high sulfur fuel), and consequently may have difficulty finding employment, command lower charter hire, have difficulty in financing and/or need to be scrapped. While all costs of bunkers have risen over the year ended December 31, 2021, the price of our low sulphur fuel has increased approximately 73%. Further, fuel may become even more expensive in the future, which may reduce the profitability and competitiveness of our business versus other forms of transportation, such as truck or rail. Also, our 2009 tanker, “Pyxis Malou”, consumes more fuel than eco-efficient vessels. Consequently, employment of our older vessel may be lower and less profitable. Changes in the price of fuel may adversely affect our profitability.
If our vessels call on ports or territories located in or operate in countries or territories that are the subject of sanctions or embargoes imposed by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, or other governmental authorities it could result in monetary fines and other penalties and adversely affect our reputation and the market price of our common shares.
Although none of our vessels called on ports located in countries or territories that are the subject of country-wide or territory-wide comprehensive sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government or other applicable governmental authorities (“Sanctioned Jurisdictions”) in violation of applicable sanctions or embargo laws in 2021, and through the date of this Annual Report, and we endeavor to take steps designed to mitigate such risks, it is possible that, in the future, our vessels may call on ports 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 stock could be adversely affected. 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 or embargoes imposed by the U.S., the EU, and/or other international bodies. If we determine that such sanctions or embargoes 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 or embargoes, our results of operations may be adversely affected, we could face monetary fines or penalties, or we may suffer reputational harm.
Although we believe that we have been in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, and intend to maintain such compliance, there can be no assurance that we will be in compliance at all times 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 the U.S. capital markets and conduct our business, and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or refrain from investing, 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 stock may adversely affect the price at which our common stock trades. Moreover, our charterers may violate applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations as a result of actions that do not involve us or our vessels, and those violations could in turn negatively affect our reputation. In addition, our reputation and the market for our securities may be adversely affected if we engage in certain other activities, such as entering into charters with individuals or entities that are not controlled by the governments of countries or territories that are the subject of certain U.S. sanctions or embargo laws, or engaging in operations associated with those countries or territories pursuant to contracts with third parties that are unrelated to those countries or territories or entities controlled by their governments. Investor perception of the value of our common stock may be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in the countries or territories that we operate in.
Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency.
A government could take actions for requisition of title, hire or seize our vessels. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes its owner. Also, such government could requisition our vessels for hire, which occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and effectively becomes her charterer at dictated charter rates.
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. Companies which do not adapt to or comply with investor, lender or other industry shareholder expectations and standards, which are evolving, or which are perceived to have not responded appropriately to the growing concern for ESG issues, regardless of whether there is a legal requirement to do so, may suffer from reputational damage and the business, financial condition, and/or stock price of such a company could be materially and adversely affected.
We may face increasing pressures from investors, lenders and other market participants, who are increasingly focused on climate change, to prioritize sustainable energy practices, reduce our carbon footprint and promote sustainability. As a result, we may be required to implement more stringent ESG procedures or standards so that our existing and future investors and lenders remain invested in us and make further investments in us. If we do not meet these standards, our business and/or our ability to access capital could be harmed.
Additionally, certain investors and lenders may exclude shipping companies, such as us, from their investing portfolios altogether due to environmental, social and governance factors, which may affect our ability to develop as our plans for growth may include accessing the equity and debt capital markets. If those markets are unavailable, or if we are unable to access alternative means of financing on acceptable terms, or at all, we may be unable to implement our business strategy, which would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations and impair our ability to service our indebtedness. Further, it is likely that we will incur additional costs and require additional resources to monitor, report and comply with wide ranging ESG requirements. The occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Finally, organizations that provide information to investors on corporate governance and related matters have developed ratings processes for evaluating companies on their approach to ESG matters Unfavorable ESG ratings and recent activism directed at shifting funding away from companies with fossil fuel-related assets could lead to increased negative investor sentiment toward us and our industry and to the diversion of investment to other, non-fossil fuel markets, which could have a negative impact on our access to and costs of capital.
We are subject to increasingly complex laws and regulations, including environmental and safety laws and regulations, which expose us to liability and significant additional expenditures, and can adversely affect our insurance coverage and access to certain ports as well as our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our operations are affected by extensive and changing international, national and local laws, regulations, treaties, conventions and standards in force in international waters, the jurisdictional waters of the countries in which our vessels operate, as well as the countries of our vessels’ registration.
These laws and regulations include, but are not limited to, the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (the “OPA”), requirements of the U.S Coast Guard (“USCG”) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”), the U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (the “CERCLA”), the U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970 (as amended from time to time and referred to herein as the “CAA”), the U.S. Clean Water Act of 1972 (as amended from time to time and referred to herein as the “CWA”), the International Maritime Organization (the “IMO”), the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969 (as amended from time to time and referred to herein as the “CLC”), the IMO International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damages (the “Bunker Convention”), MARPOL, including designation of Emission Control Areas (“ECAs”) thereunder, the IMO International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974 (as amended from time to time and referred to herein as the “SOLAS Convention”) and the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and Pollution Prevention (the “ISM Code”) promulgated thereby, the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the “BWM Convention”), the IMO International Convention on Load Lines of 1966 (as from time to time amended) (the “LL Convention”), the U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (the “MTSA”), the International Labour Organization (“ILO”), the Maritime Labour Convention, EU regulations, and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (the “ISPS Code”). Environmental laws often impose strict liability for remediation of spills and releases of oil and hazardous substances, which could subject us to liability without regard to whether we were negligent or at fault. We are required to satisfy insurance and financial responsibility requirements for potential oil (including marine fuel) spills and other pollution incidents. Although we have arranged insurance to cover certain environmental risks, there can be no assurance that such insurance will be sufficient to cover all such risks.
The safe operation of our vessels is affected by the requirements of the ISM Code, promulgated by the IMO under the SOLAS Convention. The ISM Code requires ship owners, ship managers and bareboat charterers to develop and maintain an extensive “Safety Management System” that includes the adoption of safety and environmental protection policies 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, invalidation of our existing insurance, or reduction in available insurance coverage for our affected vessels. Such noncompliance may also result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports which could have a material adverse impact on the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
Compliance with such laws and regulations, where applicable, may require installation of costly equipment, vessel modifications, operational changes or restrictions, a reduction in cargo-capacity and may affect the resale value or useful lives of our vessels as well as result in the denial of access to, or detention in, certain jurisdictional waters or ports. We may also incur additional costs in order to comply with other existing and future regulatory obligations, including, but not limited to, costs relating to air emissions including greenhouse gases, the management of ballast and bilge waters, maintenance and inspection, elimination of tin-based paint, development and implementation of emergency procedures and insurance coverage or other financial assurance of our ability to address pollution incidents. Government regulation of the shipping industry, particularly as it may relate to safety, ship recycling requirements, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and other environmental matters, can be expected to become stricter in the future, and may require us to incur significant capital expenditures on our vessels to keep them in compliance, may require us to scrap or sell certain vessels altogether, may reduce the residual value we receive if a vessel is scrapped, and may generally increase our compliance costs. A failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations may result in administrative and civil penalties, criminal sanctions or the suspension or termination of operations. Increased inspection procedures could increase costs and disrupt our business. International shipping is subject to various security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin and destination and trans-shipment points. Inspection procedures can result in the seizure of the cargo and/or our vessels, delays in the loading, offloading or delivery and the levying of customs duties, fines or other penalties against us. It is possible that changes to inspection procedures could impose additional financial and legal obligations on us, could also impose additional costs and obligations on our customers and may, in certain cases, render the shipment of certain types of cargo uneconomical or impractical. All of the above, including any changes or developments, both individually and cumulatively, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Recent action by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and U.S. agencies indicates that cyber-security regulations for the maritime industry are likely to be further developed in the near future in an attempt to combat cyber-security threats. Please see “Item 4. Information on the Company - B. Business Overview - International Product Tanker Shipping Industry.” If a vessel fails any survey or otherwise fails to maintain its class, the vessel will be unable to trade and will be unemployable, and may subject us to claims from the charterer if it has chartered the vessel, which would negatively impact our revenues as well as our reputation.
We are subject to funding calls by our protection and indemnity associations, and our associations may not have enough resources to cover claims made against them.
We are indemnified for certain liabilities incurred while operating our vessels through membership in protection and indemnity associations, which are mutual insurance associations whose members contribute to cover losses sustained by other association members. Claims are paid through the aggregate premiums (typically annually) of all members of the association, although members remain subject to calls for additional funds if the aggregate premiums are insufficient to cover claims submitted to the association. Claims submitted to the association may include those incurred by members of the association, as well as claims submitted to the association from other protection and indemnity associations with which our association has entered into inter-association agreements. We cannot assure you that the associations to which we belong will remain viable.
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”), which has yet to be ratified, 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. Upon the Hong Kong Convention’s entry into force, however, each ship sent for recycling will have to carry an inventory of its hazardous materials. Even though the Hong Kong Convention is currently not in effect, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU have 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. We are required to comply with EU Ship Recycling Regulation as of December 31, 2020, since our ships trade in EU region.
These regulatory developments, when implemented, may lead to cost escalation by shipyards, repair yards and scrap yards. This may then result in a decrease in the residual recycling value of a vessel, vessel 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.
Climate change and greenhouse gas restrictions may adversely impact our operations, markets and capital sources.
Due to concern over the risk of climate change, a number of countries and the IMO have adopted, or are considering the adoption of, regulatory frameworks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These regulatory measures may include, among others, adoption of cap and trade regimes, carbon taxes, increased efficiency standards and incentives or mandates for renewable energy. More specifically, on October 27, 2016, the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee announced its decision concerning the implementation of regulations mandating a reduction in sulfur emissions from 3.5% currently to 0.5% as of the beginning of January 1, 2020. Since January 1, 2020, ships must either remove sulfur from emissions or buy fuel with low sulfur content, which may lead to increased costs and supplementary investments for ship owners. The interpretation of “fuel oil used on board” includes use in main engine, auxiliary engines and boilers. Shipowners may comply with this regulation by (i) using 0.5% sulfur fuels on board, which are available around the world but at a higher cost; (ii) installing scrubbers for cleaning of the exhaust gas; or (iii) by retrofitting vessels to be powered by liquefied natural gas, which may not be a viable option due to the lack of supply network and high costs involved in this process. Costs of compliance with these regulatory changes may be significant and may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
Maritime shipping will also be included in the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) as of 2023 with a phase-in period. It is expected that shipowners will need to purchase and surrender a number of emission allowances that represent their MRV-recorded carbon emission exposure for a specific reporting period. The person or organization responsible for the compliance with the EU ETS should be the shipping company, defined as the shipowner or any other organization or person, such as the manager or the bareboat charterer, that has assumed the responsibility for the operation of the ship from the shipowner. Compliance with the Maritime EU ETS will result in additional compliance and administration costs to properly incorporate the provisions of the Directive into our business routines. Additional EU regulations which are part of the EU’s Fit-for-55, could also affect our financial position in terms of compliance and administration costs when they take effect.
Territorial taxonomy regulations in geographies where we are operating and are regulatorily liable, such as EU Taxonomy, might jeopardize the level of access to capital. For example, EU has already introduced a set of criteria for economic activities which should be framed as ‘green’, called EU Taxonomy. As long as we are an EU-based company meeting the NFRD prerequisites, we will be eligible for reporting our Taxonomy eligibility and alignment. Based on the current version of the Regulation, companies that own assets shipping fossil fuels are considered as not aligned with EU Taxonomy. The outcome of such provision might be either an increase in the cost of capital and/or gradually reduced access to financing as a result of financial institutions’ compliance with EU Taxonomy.
Additionally, on September 15, 2020 the European Parliament voted to include greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime sector in the European Union’s carbon market from 2022, meaning that specific regulations on this are forthcoming and will require shipowners to buy permits to cover such emissions.
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 U.S. President announced that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which provides for a four-year exit process, meaning that the earliest possible effective withdrawal date cannot be before November 4, 2020. However, on January 20, 2021, newly-elected U.S. President Biden signed an executive order to rejoin the Paris Agreement, which the U.S. officially rejoined on February 19, 2021. The effect of such action has yet to be determined. Compliance with changes in laws, regulations and obligations relating to climate change could increase our costs related to operating and maintaining our vessels and require us to install new emission controls, acquire allowances or pay taxes related to our greenhouse gas emissions or administer and manage a greenhouse gas emissions program. Revenue generation and strategic growth opportunities may also be adversely affected.
On June 29, 2017, the Global Industry Alliance (“GIA”), was officially inaugurated. The GIA is a program, under the Global Environmental Facility-United Nations Development Program-IMO project, which supports shipping, and related industries, as they move towards a low carbon future. Organizations including, but not limited to, shipowners, operators, classification societies and oil companies, signed to launch the GIA.
Technological innovation and quality and efficiency requirements from our customers could reduce our charter hire income and the value of our vessels.
Our customers, in particular those in the oil industry, 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, the impact of the stress of operations and stipulations from classification societies. If new product tankers are built that are more efficient, more flexible, have longer physical lives or use more environmentally friendly fuel than our vessels, competition from these more technologically advanced vessels could adversely affect the amount of charter hire payments we receive for our vessels once their initial charters expire 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. As a result, our financial condition and available cash could be adversely affected.
Risks Related to Our Business and Operations
We recently had a working capital deficit and may not be able to fund our ongoing operations.
We are operating in a challenging market with low charter rates and vessel utilization, which has significantly weakened our liquidity. We have incurred a net loss to common shareholders of $12.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2021 and have a working capital deficit of $3.7 million at December 31, 2021. Additionally, as of December 31, 2021, there was no amount available for us to draw down under our existing loan agreements.
In order to avoid there being substantial doubt about our ability to fund future operations, meet our obligations as they become due and help us fund our growth plans, we recently completed the sale of our two handysize tankers which generated $2.7 million in net proceeds and $0.6 million from the lender’s release of minimum liquidity deposits as well as refinanced the outstanding loan for the “Pyxis Malou” which extended our debt maturities and reduced interest costs.
We operate in highly competitive international markets.
The product tanker industry is highly fragmented, with many charterers, owners and operators of vessels, and the transportation of refined petroleum products is characterized by intense competition. Competition arises primarily from other tanker owners, including major oil companies as well as independent tanker companies, some of which have substantially greater financial and other resources than we do. Although we believe that no single competitor has a dominant position in the markets in which we compete, the trend towards consolidation in the industry is creating an increasing number of global enterprises capable of competing in multiple markets, which will likely result in greater competition to us. Our competitors may be better positioned to devote greater resources to the development, promotion and employment of their businesses than we are. Competition for charters, including for the transportation of refined petroleum products, is intense and depends on price as well as on vessel location, size, age, condition and acceptability of the vessel and its operator to the charterer and reputation. Competition may increase in some or all of our principal markets, including with the entry of new competitors. We may not be able to compete successfully or effectively with our competitors and our competitive position may be eroded in the future, which could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Because we intend to charter some of the vessels in our fleet in the spot market or in pools trading in the spot market, we expect to have exposure to the cyclicality and volatility of the spot charter market and incur additional working capital. As of March 31, 2022, we operated three vessels] in the spot market which is highly competitive and volatile. Spot charter rates may fluctuate dramatically based on the competitive factors listed in the preceding risk factor. Since we charter some of our vessels on the spot market, and may in the future also admit our vessels in pools trading on the spot market, we have exposure to fluctuations in cash flows due to the cyclicality and volatility of the spot charter market. By focusing the employment of some of the vessels in our fleet on the spot market, we will benefit if conditions in this market strengthen. However, we will also be particularly vulnerable to declining spot charter rates. Future spot charters may continue to be at the rates currently prevailing in the spot market at which we cannot operate our vessels profitably and may fall further. If spot charter rates remain at current levels or decrease further, our earnings will be adversely impacted to the extent we have vessels trading on the spot market. Trading our vessels in the spot market or in pools requires greater working capital than operating under a time charter as the vessel owner is responsible for various voyage related costs, such as, fuel, port and canal charges, as well as additional timing for collections of charter receivables, including additional demurrage revenues.
We may be unable to secure medium- and long-term employment for our vessels at profitable rates and present and future vessel employment could be adversely affected by an inability to clear the oil majors’ risk assessment process.
One of our strategies is to explore and selectively enter into or renew medium- and long-term, fixed rate time and, possibly, bareboat charters for some of the vessels in our fleet in order to provide us with a base of stable cash flows and to manage charter rate volatility. However, the process for obtaining longer term charters is highly competitive and generally involves a lengthier and intense screening and vetting process and the submission of competitive bids, compared to shorter term charters. Shipping, and especially refined petroleum product tankers have been, and will remain, heavily regulated. The so-called “oil majors”, together with a number of commodities traders, represent a significant percentage of the production, trading and shipping logistics (terminals) of refined products worldwide. Concerns for the environment have led the oil majors to develop and implement a strict ongoing due diligence process when selecting their commercial partners. This vetting process has evolved into a sophisticated and comprehensive risk assessment of both the vessel operator and the vessel, including physical ship inspections, completion of vessel inspection questionnaires performed by accredited inspectors and the production of comprehensive risk assessment reports.
In addition to the quality, age and suitability of the vessel, longer term charters tend to be awarded based upon a variety of other factors relating to the vessel operator, including:
|●||office assessments and audits of the vessel operator;|
|●||the operator’s environmental, health and safety record;|
|●||compliance with heightened industry standards that have been set by several oil companies and other charterers;|
|●||compliance with the standards of the IMO and periodic reporting of vessel emissions;|
|●||compliance with several oil companies and other charterers’ codes of conduct, policies and guidelines, including transparency, anti-bribery and ethical requirements and relationships with third-parties;|
|●||shipping industry relationships, reputation for customer service, technical and operating expertise and safety record;|
|●||shipping experience and quality of ship operations, including cost-effectiveness;|
|●||quality, experience and technical capability of crews;|
|●||the ability to finance vessels at competitive rates and overall financial stability;|
|●||relationships with shipyards and the ability to obtain suitable berths with on-time delivery of new vessels according to customer’s specifications;|
|●||willingness to accept operational risks pursuant to the charter, such as allowing termination of the charter for force majeure events; and|
|●||competitiveness of the bid in terms of overall price.|
We cannot assure you that we would be successful in winning medium- and long-term employment for our vessels at profitable rates.
A substantial portion of our revenues is derived from a limited number of customers, and the loss of any of these customers could result in a significant loss of revenues and cash flow.
We currently derive substantially all of our revenues from a limited number of customers. In 2020, two customers accounted for approximately 74% of our total revenues with one customer accounting for 58% of our total revenues and in 2021, three customers accounted for approximately 56% of our total revenues, one of which accounted for 27% of our total revenues. The loss of any significant customer or a decline in the amount of services provided to a significant customer could have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
The Company’s growth depends on its ability to expand relationships with existing customers and obtain new customers, for which it will face substantial competition.
The process of obtaining new charters is highly competitive, generally involves an intensive screening process and competitive bids and often extends for several months. Contracts are awarded based upon a variety of factors, including the owner’s management experience; the operator’s industry relationships, experience and reputation for customer service, quality operations and safety; the quality, fuel consumption and age of the vessels; the quality, experience and technical capability of the crew; the operator’s willingness to accept operational risks pursuant to the charter, such as allowing termination of the charter for force majeure events; and the competitiveness of the bid in terms of overall price.
The Company’s ability to obtain new customers will also depend upon a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control, including our ability to successfully manage our liquidity and obtain the necessary financing to fund our anticipated growth; identify and consummate desirable acquisitions, joint ventures or strategic alliances; and identify and capitalize on opportunities in new markets. Furthermore, it includes ITM’s ability to attract, hire, train and retain qualified personnel and managers to manage and operate its fleet; and being approved through the vessel vetting process of certain charterers.
We may not be able to successfully mix our charter durations profitably.
It may be difficult to properly balance time and spot charters and anticipate trends in these markets. Should more vessels be available on the spot or short-term market at the time we are seeking to fix new medium- to long-term time charters, we may have difficulty entering into such charters at profitable rates and for any term other than a short-term and, as a result, our cash flow may be subject to instability we cannot successfully employ our vessels in a profitable mix of medium- and long-term time charters and on the spot market, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.
We have limited current liquidity and have become reliant on Maritime and Maritime Investors, entities affiliated with our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Valentis, for our short-term working capital financing.
At December 31, 2021, we had cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash of $9.9 million. Of this amount, $3.7 million was restricted cash deposits required by our lenders. At December 31, 2021, Maritime had extended $4.0 million of advances which we used to pay various operating costs, debt service, dry docking costs and other obligations. The Due to related parties outstanding balance also included $3 million for the purchase of the “Pyxis Lamda”, that was subsequently repaid with cash on hand in early January, 2022. In the near-term, Maritime may advance or receive from us additional funds for similar purposes. Currently there are no specific repayment terms with respect to these advances, which Maritime controls as our manager. We cannot assure you that in the future Maritime will continue to provide these advances or other working capital funding on similar or different terms, or at all. If our operating cash flows are insufficient to satisfy our liquidity needs, we may have to rely on the sale of assets or additional debt or equity financings to raise adequate funds or restructure our indebtedness, or a combination thereof.
Also, on October 28, 2015, we and Maritime Investors entered into a promissory note, which as subsequently amended and supplemented, has an outstanding principal balance as of December 31, 2021 of $6.0 million payable on a quarterly basis at an annual interest rate of 7.5% in cash (the “Amended and Restated Promissory Note”). Please refer to “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions” below for more information.
An inability to continue this financing in the future from Maritime or Maritime Investors, or the imposition by Maritime of repayment terms that are unfavorable to us may negatively affect our liquidity position and our ability to fund our ongoing operations.
Counterparties, including charterers or technical managers, could fail to meet their obligations to us.
We enter into, among other things, memoranda of agreement, charter parties, ship management agreements and loan agreements with third parties with respect to the purchase and operation of our fleet and our business. Such agreements subject us to counterparty risks. The ability and willingness of each of our counterparties to perform its obligations under these agreements with us depends on a number of factors that are beyond our control and may include, among other things, general economic conditions, the condition of the tanker shipping industry and the overall financial condition of the counterparties. In particular, we face credit risk with our charterers. It is possible that not all of our charterers will provide detailed financial information regarding their operations. As a result, charterer risk is largely assessed on the basis of our charterers’ reputation in the market, and even on that basis, there can be no assurance that they can or will fulfill their obligations under the contracts we enter into with them.
Charterers are sensitive to the commodity markets and may be impacted by market forces affecting commodities. In addition, in depressed market conditions, there have been reports of charterers renegotiating their charters or defaulting on their obligations under charters. Our customers may fail to pay charter hire or attempt to renegotiate charter rates. Should a charterer counterparty fail to honor its obligations under agreements with us, it may be difficult to secure substitute employment for that vessel, and any new charter arrangements we secure on the spot market or on substitute charters may be at lower rates depending on the then existing charter rate levels. The costs and delays associated with the default by a charterer under a charter of a vessel may be considerable. In addition, if the charterer of a vessel in our fleet that is used as collateral under 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 banks to exercise remedies under our loan agreements.
As a result of these risks, we could sustain significant losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We depend on ITM and Maritime to operate our business and our business could be harmed if they fail to perform their services satisfactorily.
Pursuant to our management agreements, ITM provides us with day-to-day technical management services (including crewing, maintenance, repair, dry-dockings and maintaining required vetting approvals) and Maritime provides us with ship management and administrative services for our vessels. Our operational success depends significantly upon ITM and Maritime’s satisfactory performance of these services, including their abilities to attract and retain highly skilled and qualified personnel, particularly seamen and on-shore staff who deal directly with vessel operations. Our business would be harmed if ITM or Maritime failed to perform these services satisfactorily. In addition, if our management agreements with either ITM or Maritime were to be terminated or if their terms were to be altered, our business could be adversely affected, as we may not be able to immediately replace such services, and even if replacement services were immediately available, the terms offered could be less favorable than those under our management agreements. A change of technical manager may require approval by certain customers of ours for employment of a vessel.
Our ability to compete for and enter into new period time and spot charters and to expand our relationships with our existing charterers will depend largely on our relationship with ITM and Maritime, and their respective reputation and relationships in the shipping industry. If ITM or Maritime suffers material damage to its reputation or relationships, it may harm our ability to obtain new charters or financing on commercially acceptable terms, maintain satisfactory relationships with our charterers and suppliers, and successfully execute our business strategies. If our ability to do any of the things described above is impaired, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may fail to successfully control our operating and voyage expenses.
Our operating results are dependent on our ability to successfully control our operating and voyage expenses. Under our ship management agreements with ITM we are required to pay for vessel operating expenses (which includes crewing, repairs and maintenance, insurance, stores, lube oils and communication expenses), and, for spot charters, voyage expenses (which include bunker expenses, port fees, cargo loading and unloading expenses, canal tolls, agency fees and conversions). These expenses depend upon a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our or the technical manager’s control, including unexpected increases in costs for crews, insurance or spare parts for our vessels, unexpected dry-dock repairs, mechanical failures or human error (including revenue lost in off-hire days), vessel age, arrest action against our vessels due to failure to pay debts, disputes with creditors or claims by third parties, labor strikes, severe weather conditions, any quarantines of our vessels and uncertainties in the world oil markets. Some of these costs, primarily relating to voyage expenses, such as bunker fuel, have been increasing and may increase more significantly in the future. Repair costs are unpredictable and can be substantial, some of which may not be covered by insurance. If our vessels are subject to unexpected or unscheduled off-hire time, it could adversely affect our cash flow and may expose us to claims for liquidated damages if the vessel is chartered at the time of the unscheduled off-hire period. The cost of dry-docking repairs, additional off-hire time, an increase in our operating expenses and/or the obligation to pay any liquidated damages could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We will be required to make substantial capital expenditures, for which we may be dependent on additional financing, to maintain the vessels we own or to acquire other vessels.
We must make substantial capital expenditures to maintain, over the long-term, the operating capacity of our fleet. Our business strategy is also based in part upon the expansion of our fleet through the purchase of additional vessels. Maintenance capital expenditures include dry-docking expenses, modification of existing vessels or acquisitions of new vessels to the extent these expenditures are incurred to maintain the operating capacity of our fleet. In addition, we expect to incur significant maintenance costs for our current and any newly-acquired vessels. A newbuilding vessel must be dry-docked within five years of its delivery from a shipyard, and vessels are typically dry-docked every 30 to 60 months thereafter depending on the vessel, not including any unexpected repairs. We estimate the cost to dry-dock a vessel is between $0.4 and $1.1 million (including estimated expenditures for upgrades to comply with new BWTS system regulations), depending on the age, size and condition of the vessel and the location of dry-docking. In addition, capital maintenance expenditures could increase as a result of changes in the cost of labor and materials, customer requirements, increases in the size of our fleet, governmental regulations and maritime self-regulatory organization standards relating to safety, security or the environment and competitive standards.
To purchase additional vessels from time to time, we may be required to incur additional borrowings or raise capital through the sale of debt or additional equity securities. Asset impairments, financial stress, enforcement actions and credit rating pressures experienced in recent years by financial institutions to extend credit to the shipping industry due to depressed shipping rates and the deterioration of asset values that have led to losses in many banks’ shipping portfolios, as well as changes in overall banking regulations, have severely constrained the availability of credit for shipping companies like us. In addition, the re-pricing of credit risk and the difficulties currently experienced by financial institutions, have made, and will likely continue to make, it difficult to obtain financing. As a result of the disruptions in the credit markets and higher capital requirements, many lenders increased margins on lending rates, enacted tighter lending standards, required more restrictive terms (including higher collateral ratios for advances, shorter maturities and smaller loan amounts), or refused to refinance existing debt at all. Furthermore, certain banks that have historically been significant lenders to the shipping industry have reduced or ceased lending activities in the shipping industry. Additional tightening of capital requirements and the resulting policies adopted by lenders, could further reduce lending activities. We may experience difficulties obtaining financing commitments or be unable to fully draw on the capacity under our committed term loans in the future if our lenders are unwilling to extend financing to us or unable to meet their funding obligations due to their own liquidity, capital or solvency issues. We cannot be certain that financing will be available on acceptable terms or at all. If financing is not available when needed, or is available only on unfavorable terms, we may be unable to meet our future obligations as they come due. Our failure to obtain such funds could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In the absence of available financing, we also may be unable to take advantage of business opportunities or respond to competitive pressures.
In addition, our ability to obtain bank financing or to access the capital markets for future offerings may be limited by the terms of our existing credit agreements, our financial condition, the actual or perceived credit quality of our customers, and any defaults by them, as well as by adverse market conditions resulting from, among other things, general economic conditions and contingencies and uncertainties that are beyond our control.
We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain such additional financing in the future on terms that are acceptable to us or at all. Our failure to obtain funds for capital expenditures could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, our actual operating and maintenance capital expenditures will vary significantly from quarter to quarter based on, among other things, the number of vessels dry-docked during that quarter. Even if we are successful in obtaining the necessary funds for capital expenditures, the terms of such financings could limit our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders. Incurring additional debt may significantly increase our interest expense and financial leverage, and issuing additional equity securities may result in significant dilution.
The Company does not plan to install scrubbers and will have to pay more for fuel which could adversely affect the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
Effective January 1, 2020 all vessels must comply with the IMO’s low sulfur fuel oil (“LSFO”) requirement, which cuts sulfur levels from 3.5% to 0.5%. Shipowners may comply with this regulation by (i) using 0.5% sulfur fuels, which is available in most ports globally but at a higher cost than high-sulfur fuel oil (“HSFO”); (ii) installing scrubbers for cleaning of the exhaust gas; or (iii) by retrofitting vessels to be powered by liquefied natural gas, which may not be a viable option due to the lack of supply network and high costs involved in this process. Costs of compliance with these regulatory changes may be significant and may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position. See “Item 4. Information on the Company – B. Business Overview – Environmental and Other Regulations in the Shipping Industry” in this Annual Report.
In light of operating and economic uncertainties surrounding the use of scrubbers, the Company has chosen not to purchase and install these units. However, the Company may, in the future, determine to purchase scrubbers for installation on its vessels. While scrubbers rely on technology that has been developed over a significant period of time for use in a variety of applications, their use for maritime applications is a more recent development. Each vessel will require physical modifications to be made in order to install a scrubber, the scope of which will depend on, among other matters, the age and type of vessel, its engine and its existing fixtures and equipment. The purchase and installation of scrubbers will involve significant capital expenditures, currently estimated at $1.5 million per vessel, and the vessel will be out of operation for more than 30 days in order for the scrubbers to be installed. In addition, future arrangements that the Company may enter into with respect to shipyard drydock capacity to implement these scrubber installations may be affected by delays or issues affecting vessel modifications being undertaken by other vessel owners at those shipyards, which could cause the Company’s vessels to be out of service for even longer periods or installation dates to be delayed. In addition, as there is a limited operating history of scrubbers on vessels such as those owned and operated by the Company, the operation and maintenance of scrubbers and related ongoing costs to these vessels is uncertain. Any unforeseen complications or delays in connection with acquiring, installing, operating or maintaining scrubbers installed on the Company’s vessels could adversely affect the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
As of February 28, 2022, approximately 15.7% of the worldwide fleet of MR2 were scrubber-fitted. Fuel expense reductions from operating scrubber-fitted vessels could result in a substantial reduction of bunker cost for charterers compared to vessels in our fleet which do not have scrubbers. If (a) the supply of scrubber-fitted tankers increases, (b) the differential between the cost of HSFO and LSFO is high and (c) charterers prefer such vessels over our tankers, demand for our vessels may be reduced and our ability to re-charter our vessels at competitive rates may be impaired.
Furthermore, the availability of HSFO and LSFO around the world as well as the prices of HSFO and LSFO generally and the price differential between the two fuels have been uncertain and volatile. If LSFO is unavailable in port and we or our charterers cannot obtain a temporary waiver to refuel and use HSFO for the next voyage, we or our charterers could be subject to fines by regulatory authorities and be in violation of the charter agreements. Scarcity and the quality in the supply of LSFO, or a higher-than-anticipated difference in the costs between the two types of fuel, may cause the Company to pay more than for its fuel than scrubber fitted vessels, which could adversely affect the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
There is limited operating history of using LSFO on our vessels and new compliant fuel blends which have been introduced but the vessel performance, economic impact and timing of using such fuels on our vessels is still evolving. In addition, our vessels will likely incur higher fuel costs associated with using more expensive compliant fuel. Such costs may be material and could adversely affect the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition, particularly in any case where we are unable to pass through the costs of higher fuel to charterers due to competition with vessels that have installed scrubbers, market conditions or otherwise.
We may not be able to implement our business strategy successfully or manage our growth effectively.
Our future growth will depend on the successful implementation of our business strategy. A principal focus of our business strategy is to grow by expanding the size of our fleet while capitalizing on a mix of charter types, including on the spot market. Growing any business by acquisition presents numerous risks, such as undisclosed liabilities and obligations, difficulty in obtaining additional qualified personnel and managing relationships with customers and suppliers and integrating newly acquired operations into existing infrastructures. The expansion of the Company’s fleet may impose significant additional responsibilities on our management and may necessitate an increase in the number of personnel. Other risks and uncertainties include distraction of management from current operations, insufficient revenue to offset liabilities assumed, potential loss of significant revenue and income streams, unexpected expenses, inadequate return of capital, regulatory or compliance issues, the triggering of certain covenants in the Company’s debt instruments (including accelerated repayment) and other unidentified issues not discovered in due diligence. As a result of the risks inherent in such transactions, the Company cannot guarantee that any such transaction will ultimately result in the realization of the anticipated benefits of the transaction or that significant transactions will not have a material adverse impact on its business, results of operations and financial condition. Our future growth will depend upon a number of factors, some of which are not within our control, including our ability to identify suitable tankers and/or shipping companies for acquisition at attractive prices, identify and consummate desirable acquisitions, joint ventures or strategic alliances, integrate any acquired tankers or businesses successfully with the Company’s existing operations, hire, train and retain qualified personnel to manage and operate our growing business and fleet, identify additional new markets, enhance the Company’s customer base, improve our operating, financial and accounting systems and controls, expand into new markets, and obtain required financing for our existing and new vessels and operations.
Acquisitions of vessels may not be profitable to us at or after the time we acquire them. We may fail to realize anticipated benefits, decrease our liquidity by using a significant portion of our available cash or borrowing capacity to finance vessel acquisitions, significantly increase our interest expense or financial leverage if we incur additional debt to finance vessel acquisitions, fail to integrate any acquired tankers or business successfully with our existing operations, accounting systems and infrastructure generally, incur assume unanticipated liabilities, capital expenditures, losses or costs associated or vessels acquired, or incur other significant charges, such as impairment of goodwill or other intangible assets, asset devaluation or restructuring charges.
The Company’s failure to effectively identify, purchase, develop and integrate additional tankers or businesses could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. The number of employees that perform services for the Company and our current operating and financial systems may not be adequate as the Company implements its plan to expand the size of our fleet, and we may not be able to effectively hire more employees or adequately improve those systems. Future acquisitions may also require additional equity issuances or debt issuances (with amortization payments). If any such events occur, the Company’s financial condition may be adversely affected. The Company cannot give any assurance that we will be successful in executing our growth plans or that we will not incur significant expenses and losses in connection with our future growth.
However, even if we successfully implement our business strategy, we may not improve our net revenues or operating results. Furthermore, we may decide to alter or discontinue aspects of our business strategy and may adopt alternative or additional strategies in response to business or competitive factors or factors or events beyond our control. Our failure to execute our business strategy or to manage our growth effectively could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
If we purchase and operate secondhand vessels, we will be exposed to increased operating costs which could adversely affect our earnings and, as our fleet ages, the risks associated with older vessels could adversely affect our ability to obtain profitable charters.
The Company’s current business strategy includes additional future growth through the acquisition of secondhand vessels and, possibly, newbuild resales. While the Company typically inspects secondhand vessels prior to purchase, this does not provide the Company with the same knowledge about their condition that it would have had if these vessels had been built for and operated exclusively for us. Generally, the Company does not receive the benefit of warranties from the builders for the secondhand vessels that we acquire. Moreover, upon delivery of the vessel, we will incur various start-up costs, such as provisioning, bunkers and crew training which temporarily increase our operating expenses.
In general, the costs to maintain a vessel in good operating condition increase with the age of the vessel. Older vessels are typically less fuel-efficient than more recently constructed vessels due to improvements in engine technology. Cargo insurance rates increase with the age of a vessel, making older vessels less desirable to charterers.
Governmental regulations, safety or other equipment standards related to the age of vessels may require expenditures for alterations, or the addition of new equipment, to our vessels and may restrict the type of activities in which the vessels may engage. As our vessels age, market conditions may not justify those expenditures or enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of their useful lives.
In addition, unless we maintain cash reserves or raise external funds on acceptable terms for vessel replacement, we may be unable to replace the vessels in our fleet upon the expiration of their useful lives. We estimate the useful life of our vessels to be 25 years from the date of initial delivery from the shipyard and range from 2034 to 2042. Our cash flows and income are dependent on the revenues we earn by chartering our vessels to customers. If we are unable to replace the vessels in our fleet upon the expiration of their useful lives, our business, results of operations and financial condition will be materially adversely affected. Any reserves set aside for vessel replacement may not be available for other cash needs, including improvement of working capital, early repayment of debt or possible cash dividends.
New vessels may experience initial operational difficulties and unexpected incremental start-up costs.
New vessels, during their initial period of operation, have the possibility of encountering structural, mechanical and electrical problems as well as unexpected incremental start-up costs. Typically, the purchaser of a newbuilding will receive the benefit of a warranty from the shipyard for new buildings, but we cannot assure you that any warranty we obtain will be able to resolve any problem with the vessel without additional costs to us and off-hire periods for the vessel. Upon delivery of a vessel, we may incur operating expenses above the incremental start-up costs typically associated with such a delivery and such expenses may include, among others, additional crew training, consumables and spares.
Delays in deliveries of additional vessels, our decision to cancel an order for purchase of a vessel, or our inability to otherwise complete the acquisitions of additional vessels for our fleet, could harm our operating results.
Although we currently have no vessels on order, under construction or subject to purchase agreements, we expect to purchase additional vessels from time to time. The delivery of these vessels, or vessels on order, could be delayed, not completed or cancelled, which would delay or eliminate our expected receipt of revenues from the employment of these vessels. The seller could fail to deliver these vessels to us as agreed, or we could cancel a purchase contract because the seller has not met its obligations. The delivery of vessels we propose to order or that are on order could be delayed because of, among other things:
|●||work stoppages or other labor disturbances, engineering problems or other events that disrupt the operations of the shipyard building the vessels;|
|●||changes in governmental regulations or maritime self-regulatory organization standards;|
|●||lack of raw materials or supply chain issues for vessel parts and components;|
|●||bankruptcy or other financial crisis of the shipyard building the vessels;|
|●||our inability to obtain requisite financing or make timely payments;|
|●||a backlog of orders at the shipyard building the vessels;|
|●||hostilities, political, health or economic disturbances in the countries where the vessels are being built;|
|●||weather interference or a catastrophic event, such as a major earthquake, typhoon or fire;|
|●||our requests for changes to the original vessel specifications;|
|●||shortages or delays in the receipt of necessary construction materials, such as steel;|
|●||our inability to obtain requisite permits or approvals;|
|●||a dispute with the shipyard building the vessels, non-performance of the purchase or construction agreement with respect to a vessel by the seller or the shipyard as applicable;|
|●||non-performance of the vessel purchase agreement by the seller;|
|●||our inability to obtain requisite permits, approvals or financings; or|
|●||damage to or destruction of vessels while being operated by the seller prior to the delivery date.|
If the delivery of any vessel is materially delayed or cancelled, especially if we have committed the vessel to a charter under which we become responsible for substantial liquidated damages to the customer as a result of the delay or cancellation, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.
Declines in charter rates and other market deterioration could cause us to incur impairment charges.
We evaluate the carrying amounts of our vessels to determine if events have occurred that would require an impairment of their carrying amounts. The Company reviews the carrying values of its vessels for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amounts may not be recoverable. Whenever certain indicators of potential impairment are present, such as third party vessel valuation reports, the Company performs a test of recoverability of the carrying amount of the assets. The projection of future cash flows related to the vessels is complex and requires the Company to make various estimates including future freight rates, residual values, future dry-dockings and operating costs, which are included in the analysis. All of these items have been historically volatile. The Company recognizes an impairment charge if the carrying value is in excess of the estimated future undiscounted net operating cash flows. The impairment loss is measured based on the excess of the carrying amount over the fair market value of the asset.
Although the Company believes that the assumptions used to evaluate potential impairment are reasonable and appropriate at the time they are made, such assumptions are highly subjective and likely to change, possibly materially, in the future. There can be no assurance as to how long charter rates and vessel values will remain at their current levels or whether they will improve by a significant degree. If charter rates were to remain at depressed levels, future assessments of vessel impairments would be adversely affected. Any impairment charges incurred as a result of further declines in charter rates could have a material adverse impact on the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
Should the carrying value plus the unamortized dry-dock and survey balance of the vessel exceed its estimated future undiscounted net operating cash flows, impairment is measured based on the excess of the carrying amount over the fair market value of the asset. The Company determines the fair value of its vessels based on management estimates and assumptions and by making use of available market data and taking into consideration third party valuations. The review of the carrying amounts plus the unamortized dry-dock and survey balances in connection with the estimated recoverable amount indicated no impairment charge for the Company’s vessels as of December 31, 2021; however, we have recognized a loss of $2.4 million in the aggregate from the classification of the two vessels the “Northsea Alpha” and “Northsea Beta” as held for sale, for the period ended December 31, 2021. See Note #2 (n) in the Consolidated Financial Statements.
We are dependent on the services of our founder and Chief Executive Officer and other members of our senior management team.
We are dependent upon our Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Valentios (“Eddie”) Valentis, and the other members of our senior management team for the principal decisions with respect to our business activities. The loss or unavailability of the services of any of these key members of our management team for any significant period of time, or the inability of these individuals to manage or delegate their responsibilities successfully as our business grows, could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. If the individuals were no longer to be affiliated with us, we may be unable to recruit other employees with equivalent talent and experience, and our business and financial condition may suffer as a result. We do not maintain “key man” life insurance for our Chief Executive Officer or other members of our senior management team.
Our founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer has affiliations with Maritime, which may create conflicts of interest.
Mr. Valentis, our founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, also owns and controls Maritime. His responsibilities and relationships with Maritime could create conflicts of interest between us, on the one hand, and Maritime, on the other hand. These conflicts may arise in connection with the chartering, purchase, sale and operations of the vessels in our fleet versus vessels managed by other companies affiliated with Maritime and may not be resolved in our favor. Maritime entered into a Head Management Agreement (as defined herein) with us and into separate ship management agreements with our subsidiaries. The negotiation of these management arrangements may have resulted in certain terms that may not reflect market standard terms or may include terms that could not have been obtained from arms-length negotiations with unaffiliated third parties for similar services.
Prior to our acquisition of the “Pyxis Lamda” in December, 2021, Maritime also provided commercial management services to the vessel, that was previously owned by an entity affiliated with Mr. Valentis. Such conflicts may have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Furthermore, Maritime beneficially owns approximately 54% of our total outstanding common stock, which may limit stockholders’ ability to influence our actions. As a result, Maritime Investors has the power to exert considerable influence over our actions through its ability to effectively control matters requiring stockholder approval, including the determination to enter into a corporate transaction or to prevent a transaction, regardless of whether our other stockholders believe that any such transaction is in their or our best interests. For example, Maritime Investors could cause us to consummate a merger or acquisition that increases the amount of our indebtedness or causes us to sell all of our revenue-generating assets. We cannot assure you that the interests of Maritime will coincide with the interests of other stockholders. As a result, the market price of shares of our common stock could be adversely affected.
Furthermore, Maritime may invest in entities that directly or indirectly compete with us, or companies in which Maritime currently invests may begin competing with us. Maritime may also separately pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business, and as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us. As a result of these relationships, when conflicts arise between the interests of Maritime and the interests of our other stockholders, Mr. Valentis may not be a disinterested director. Maritime will effectively control all of our corporate decisions so long as they continue to own a substantial number of shares of our common stock.
Several of our senior executive officers do not, and certain of our officers in the future may not, devote all of their time to our business, which may hinder our ability to operate successfully.
Mr. Valentis, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Lytras, our Chief Operating Officer and Secretary and Mr. Williams, our Chief Financial Officer, participate, and other of our senior officers which we may appoint in the future may also participate, in business activities not associated with us. As a result, they may devote less time to us than if they were not engaged in other business activities and may owe fiduciary duties to our stockholders as well as stockholders of other companies with which they may be affiliated. This may create conflicts of interest in matters involving or affecting us and our customers and it is not certain that any of these conflicts of interest will be resolved in our favor. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
As we expand our business, both we and Maritime may need to improve our operating and financial systems and Maritime will need to recruit and retain suitable employees and crew for our vessels.
Our and Maritime’s current operating and financial systems may not be adequate as the size of our fleet expands, and attempts to improve those systems may be ineffective. In addition, as we expand our fleet, Maritime may need to recruit and retain suitable additional seafarers and shore based administrative and management personnel. We cannot guarantee that Maritime will be able to continue to hire suitable employees as we expand our fleet. If we or Maritime encounter business or financial difficulties, we may not be able to adequately staff our vessels. If we are unable to accomplish the above, our financial reporting performance may be adversely affected and, among other things, it may not be compliant with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) rules.
Our insurance may be insufficient to cover losses that may result from our operations.
Although we carry hull and machinery, protection and indemnity and war risk insurance on each of the vessels in our fleet, we face several risks regarding that insurance. The insurance is subject to deductibles, limits and exclusions. Since it is possible that a large number of claims may be brought, the aggregate amount of these deductibles could be material. As a result, there may be other risks against which we are not insured, and certain claims may not be paid. We do not carry insurance covering the loss of revenues resulting from vessel off-hire time based on our analysis of the cost of this coverage compared to our off-hire experience.
Certain of our insurance coverage, such as tort liability (including pollution-related liability), is maintained through mutual protection and indemnity associations, and as a member of such associations we may be required to make additional payments over and above budgeted premiums if member claims exceed association reserves. Claims submitted to the association may include those incurred by members of the association, as well as claims submitted to the association from other protection and indemnity associations with which our association has entered into inter-association agreements. We cannot assure you that the associations to which we belong will remain viable. If such associations do not remain viable or are unable to cover our losses, we may have to pay what our insurance does not cover in full.
We may be unable to procure adequate insurance coverage at commercially reasonable rates in the future. For example, more stringent environmental regulations have led in the past to increased costs for, and in the future may result in the lack of availability of, insurance against risks of environmental damage or pollution. Changes in the insurance markets attributable to terrorist attacks may also make certain types of insurance more difficult for us to obtain. We maintain for each of the vessels in our existing fleet pollution liability coverage insurance in the amount of $1.0 billion per incident. A catastrophic oil spill or marine disaster could exceed such insurance coverage. 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. The circumstances of a spill, including non-compliance with environmental laws, could also result in the denial of coverage, protracted litigation and delayed or diminished insurance recoveries or settlements. The insurance that may be available to us may be significantly more expensive than our existing coverage. Furthermore, even if insurance coverage is adequate, we may not be able to obtain a timely replacement vessel in the event of a loss. Any of these circumstances or events could negatively impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Additionally, we may be subject to increased premium payments, or calls, in amounts based on its claim records, the claim records of Maritime or ITM, as well as the claim records of other members of the protection and indemnity associations through which the Company receives insurance coverage for tort liability, including pollution-related liability. The Company’s protection and indemnity associations may not have sufficient resources to cover claims made against them. The Company’s payment of these calls could result in significant expense to the Company, which could have a material adverse effect on us.
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, environmental claims or proceedings, employment and personal injury matters, 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 or insurers may not remain solvent, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.
We and our subsidiaries may be subject to group liability for damages or debts owed by one of our subsidiaries or by us.
Although each of our vessels is and will be separately owned by individual subsidiaries, under certain circumstances, a parent company and its ship-owning subsidiaries can be held liable under corporate veil piercing principles for damages or debts owed by one of the subsidiaries or the parent. Therefore, it is possible that all of our assets and those of our subsidiaries could be subject to execution upon a judgment against us or any of our subsidiaries.
Maritime and ITM are privately held companies and there is little or no publicly available information about them.
The ability of Maritime and ITM to render their respective management services will depend in part on their own financial strength. Circumstances beyond each such company’s control could impair its financial strength. Because each of these companies is privately held, information about each company’s financial strength is not available. As a result, we and an investor in our securities might have little advance warning of financial or other problems affecting either Maritime or ITM even though its financial or other problems could have a material adverse effect on us and our stockholders.
Exchange rate fluctuations could adversely affect our revenues, financial condition and operating results.
We generate a significant part of our revenues in U.S. dollars, but incur costs in other currencies. The difference in currencies could in the future lead to fluctuations in our net income due to changes in the value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies. We have not hedged our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations, and as a result, our U.S. dollar denominated results of operations and financial condition could suffer as exchange rates fluctuate.
We may face labor interruptions, which if not resolved in a timely manner, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We, indirectly through our technical managers, employ masters, officers and crews to operate our vessels, exposing us to the risk that industrial actions or other labor unrest may occur. A number of the officers on our vessels are from the Ukraine and Russia, which have recently engaged in hostilities. We may suffer labor disruptions if relationships deteriorate with the seafarers or the unions that represent them. A majority of the crew members on the vessels in our fleet that are under time or spot charters are employed under collective bargaining agreements. ITM is a party to some of these collective bargaining agreements. These collective bargaining agreements and any employment arrangements with crew members on the vessels in our fleet may not prevent labor interruptions, particularly since they are subject to renegotiation in the future. Any labor interruptions, including due to failure to successfully renegotiate collective bargaining employment agreements with the crew members on the vessels in our fleet, are not resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner, industrial action or other labor unrest could prevent or hinder our operations from being carried out as we expect, could disrupt our operations and could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
A cyber-attack and failure to comply with data privacy laws could materially disrupt our business.
We and our ship managers rely on information technology systems and networks in our and their operations and business administration. The efficient operation of our business, including processing, transmitting and storing electronic and financial information, is dependent on computer hardware and software systems. Information systems are vulnerable to security breaches by computer hackers and cyber terrorists. 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. Therefore, our or any of our ship managers’ operations and business administration could be targeted by individuals or groups seeking to sabotage or disrupt such systems and networks, or to steal data and these systems may be damaged, shutdown or cease to function properly (whether by planned upgrades, force majeure, telecommunications failures, hardware or software break-ins or viruses, other cyber-security incidents or otherwise). A successful cyber-attack could materially disrupt our or our managers’ operations, which could also adversely affect the safety of our operations or result in the unauthorized release or alteration of information in our or our managers’ systems. Such an attack on us, or our managers, could result in significant expenses to investigate and repair security breaches or system damages and could lead to litigation, fines, other remedial action, heightened regulatory scrutiny, diminished customer confidence and damage to our reputation. We do not maintain cyber-liability insurance at this time to cover such losses. As a result, a cyber-attack or other breach of any such information technology systems could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Additionally, our information systems and infrastructure could be physically damaged by events such as fires, terrorist attacks and unauthorized access to our servers and facilities, as well as the unauthorized entrance into our information systems. Furthermore, we communicate with our customers through an ecommerce platform run by third-party service providers over which we have no management control. A potential failure of our computer systems or a failure of our third-party ecommerce platform provider to satisfy its contractual service level commitments to us may have a material-adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation. Our efforts to modernize and digitize our operations and communications with our customers further increase our dependency on information technology systems, which exacerbates the risks we could face if these systems malfunction.
The EU has recently adopted a comprehensive overhaul of its data protection regime from the current national legislative approach to a single European Economic Area Privacy Regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). The GDPR came into force on May 25, 2018, and applies to organizations located within the EU, as well as to organizations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behavior of, EU data subjects. It imposes a strict data protection compliance regime with significant penalties and includes new rights such as the “portability” of personal data. It applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the EU, regardless of the company’s location. Implementation of the GDPR could require changes to certain of our business practices, thereby increasing our costs. Our failure to adhere to or successfully implement processes in response to changing regulatory requirements in this area could result in legal liability or impairment to our reputation in the marketplace, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to our Indebtedness
We may not be able to generate sufficient cash flow to meet our debt service and other obligations.
Our ability to make scheduled payments on our outstanding indebtedness and other obligations will depend on our ability to generate cash from operations in the future. Our future financial and operating performance will be affected by a range of economic, financial, competitive, regulatory, business and other factors that we cannot control, such as general economic and financial conditions in the tanker sector or the economy generally. In particular, our ability to generate steady cash flow will depend on our ability to secure charters at acceptable rates. Our ability to renew our existing charters or obtain new charters at acceptable rates or at all will depend on the prevailing economic and competitive conditions.
Amounts borrowed under our bank loan agreements bear interest at variable rates. Increases in prevailing interest rates could increase the amounts that we would have to pay to our lenders, even though the outstanding principal amount remains the same, and our net income and cash flows would decrease.
In addition, our existing loan agreements require us to maintain various cash balances, while our financial and operating performance is also dependent on our subsidiaries’ ability to make distributions to us, whether in the form of dividends, loans or otherwise. The timing and amount of such distributions will depend on restrictions on our various debt instruments, our earnings, financial condition, cash requirements and availability, fleet renewal and expansion, the provisions of Marshall Islands and Maltese laws affecting the payment of dividends and other factors. Under Maltese law, dividends may only be distributed out of profits available for distribution and/or out of any distributable accumulated reserves.
At any time that our operating cash flows are insufficient to service our debt and other liquidity needs, we may be forced to take actions such as increasing our accounts payable and/or our amounts due to related parties, reducing or delaying capital expenditures, selling assets, restructuring or refinancing our indebtedness, seeking additional capital, seeking bankruptcy protection or any combination of the foregoing. We cannot assure you that any of the actions previously listed could be affected on satisfactory terms, if at all, or that they would yield sufficient funds to make required payments on our outstanding indebtedness and to fund our other liquidity needs. As of December 31, 2021, our total funded debt outstanding, net of deferred financing costs, including the Amended and Restated Promissory Note, aggregated $82.6 million. Also, the terms of existing or future debt agreements may restrict us from pursuing any of these actions as, among other things, if we are unable to meet our debt obligations or if some other default occurs under our loan agreements, the lenders could elect to declare that debt, together with accrued interest and fees, to be immediately due and payable and foreclose against the collateral vessels securing that debt. Any such action could also result in an impairment of cash flows and our ability to service debt in the future. Further, our debt level could make us more vulnerable than our competitors with less debt to competitive pressures or a downturn in our business or the economy generally.
The market values of tanker vessels are highly volatile, have decreased in the past and may decrease further in the future which may cause the Company to recognize losses if we sell our tankers or record impairments and affect the Company’s ability to comply with its loan covenants and refinance its debt. The fair market values of product tankers have generally experienced high volatility. The fair market values for tankers declined significantly from historically high levels reached in 2008, and are modestly above levels of the past 10 years. You should expect the market value of our vessels to fluctuate. Values for ships can fluctuate substantially over time due to a number of factors that have been mentioned in this section. As vessels grow older, they naturally depreciate in value. If the market value of our fleet declines further, we may not be able to refinance our debt or obtain additional financing and our subsidiaries may not be able to make distributions to the Company. An additional decrease in these values could cause us to breach certain covenants that are contained in our loan agreements and in future financing agreements. The prepayment of certain debt facilities may be necessary to cause the Company to maintain compliance with certain covenants in the event that the value of the vessels falls below certain levels.
If we breach covenants in our loan agreements or future financing agreements and are unable to cure the breach, our lenders could accelerate our debt repayment and foreclose on vessels in our fleet securing those debt instruments or seek other similar remedies. In addition, if a charter contract expires or is terminated by the charterer, the Company may be unable to re-charter the affected vessel at an attractive rate and, rather than continue to incur maintenance and financing costs for that vessel, the Company may seek to dispose of the affected vessel. If the Company sells one or more of its vessels at a time when vessel prices have fallen, the sale price may be less than the vessel’s carrying value on the Company’s consolidated financial statements, resulting in a loss on sale or an impairment loss being recognized, ultimately leading to a reduction of net income. Furthermore, if vessel values fall significantly, this could indicate a decrease in the recoverable amount for the vessel and may have a material adverse impact on its business, results of operations and financial condition.
Restrictive covenants in our current and future loan agreements may impose financial and other restrictions on us.
The restrictions and covenants in our current and future loan agreements could adversely affect our ability to finance future operations or capital needs or to pursue and expand our business activities. Our current loan agreements contain, and future financing agreements will likely contain, restrictive covenants that prohibit us or our subsidiaries from, among other things:
|●||paying dividends under certain circumstances, including if there is a default under the loan agreements with Alpha Bank (collectively, the “Facilities”) with respect to our subsidiaries Seventhone Corp. (“Seventhone”), Eighthone Corp. (“Eighthone”), Fourthone Corp. (“Fourthone”) and Eleventhone Corp. (“Eleventhone”), if the ratio of our (and our subsidiaries as a group) total liabilities (excluding the Promissory Note) to market value adjusted total assets is greater than 75% in the relevant year. As of December 31, 2021, the ratio of total liabilities over the market value of our adjusted total assets was 60%, and therefore, under the Alpha Bank Faciliities, these subsidiaries were permitted to distribute dividends to us as of December 31, 2021;|
|●||incurring or guaranteeing indebtedness;|
|●||charging, pledging or otherwise encumbering our vessels;|
|●||changing the flag, class, management or ownership of our vessels;|
|●||utilizing available cash;|
|●||changing ownership or structure, including through mergers, consolidations, liquidations or dissolutions;|
|●||making certain investments;|
|●||entering into a new line of business;|
|●||changing the commercial and technical management of our vessels;|
|●||selling, transferring, assigning or changing the beneficial ownership or control of our vessels; and|
|●||changing the control, or Mr. Valentis maintaining less than 25% ownership or Mr. Valentis ceases to be the Chairman, of the corporate guarantor.|
In addition, the loan agreements generally contain covenants requiring us, among other things, to ensure that:
|●||we maintain minimum liquidity cash balances based on the number of vessels owned and debt service requirements. Our required minimum cash balance as of December 31, 2020 and 2021 was $2.4 million and $3.7 million, respectively;|
|●||the fair market value of the mortgaged vessel plus any additional collateral must be no less than a certain percentage, ranging from 120% to 150%, of outstanding borrowings under the applicable loan agreement, less, in certain loan agreements, any money in respect of the principal outstanding with the credit of any applicable retention account and any free or pledged cash deposits held with the lender in our or its subsidiary’s name; and|
|●||we maintain vessel insurances of the higher of market value or at least 120% of the outstanding loan balance|
As a result of the above, we may need to seek permission from our lenders in order to engage in some corporate actions. The lenders’ interests may be different from ours and we may not be able to obtain our lenders’ permission when needed. This may limit our ability to pay dividends, finance our future operations or capital requirements, make acquisitions or pursue business opportunities.
Our ability to comply with covenants and restrictions contained in our current and future loan agreements may also be affected by events beyond our control, including prevailing economic, financial and industry conditions, a change of control of the Company or a reduction in Mr. Valentis’ shareholding. If our cash flow is insufficient to service our current and future indebtedness and to meet our other obligations and commitments, we will be required to adopt one or more alternatives, such as reducing or delaying our business activities, acquisitions, investments, capital expenditures, the payment of dividends or the implementation of our other strategies, refinancing or restructuring our debt obligations, selling vessels or other assets, seeking to raise additional debt or equity capital or seeking bankruptcy protection. However, we may not be able to affect any of these remedies or alternatives on a timely basis, on satisfactory terms or at all, which could lead to events of default under these loan agreements, giving the lenders foreclosure rights on our vessels.
Our ability to obtain additional debt financing may be dependent on the performance of our then existing charters and the creditworthiness of our charterers.
The actual or perceived credit quality of our charterers, and any defaults by them, may materially affect our ability to obtain the additional capital resources that we will require to purchase additional vessels or may significantly increase our costs of obtaining such capital. Our inability to obtain additional financing at all, or our ability to do so only at a higher than anticipated cost, may materially affect our results of operations and our ability to implement our business strategy.
Volatility of LIBOR, the cessation of LIBOR, replacement of our interest rate in our debt agreements and potential changes in the benchmark could affect our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
Our bank loans accrue interest based on LIBOR, typically for one and three month interest periods, which has been historically volatile. 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 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 hedge some of our floating rate debt obligations. For example, on January 19, 2018 and July 16, 2021, Seventhone entered into interest rate cap agreements for notional amounts of $10.0 million and $9.6 million at cap rates of 3.5% and 2%, respectively. The interest rate caps will terminate in July, 2022 and July, 2025, respectively. No assurance can however be given that the use of these derivative instruments 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, such as interest rate swaps, 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.
Furthermore, as a result, lenders have insisted on provisions that entitle the lenders, in their discretion, to replace published LIBOR as the base for the interest calculation with their cost-of-funds rate. If we are required to agree to such a provision in future financing agreements, our lending costs could increase significantly, which would have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
Risks Related to our Common Stock
The market price of our common stock has fluctuated widely and the market price of our common stock may fluctuate in the future.
The market price of our common stock has fluctuated widely since our initial public offering in October 2015, reaching a high of $12.22 per share in December 2017 and a low of $0.35 per share in January 2022. Most recently during the period between January 3, 2022 and March 31, 2022 our shares reached a high of $1.10 and low of $0.35 with pricing continuing to be volatile, due to our results of operations and perceived prospects, the prospects of our competitors and of the shipping industry in general and in particular the product tanker sector, differences between our actual financial and operating results and those expected by investors and analysts, changes in analysts’ recommendations or projections, changes in general valuations for companies in the shipping industry, particularly the product tanker sector, changes in general economic or market conditions and broader market fluctuations.
As such, our stock prices may experience rapid and substantial decreases or increases in the foreseeable future that are unrelated to our operating performance or prospects. In addition, the ongoing outbreak of the novel COVID-19 virus has caused broad stock market and industry fluctuations. The stock market in general and the market for shipping companies in particular have experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. As a result of this volatility, investors may experience substantial losses on their investment in our common shares. In addition to the above, the market price for our common shares may be influenced by many other factors, including the following:
|●||investor reaction to our business strategy;|
|●||our continued compliance with the NASDAQ listing standards;|
|●||regulatory or legal developments in the United States and other countries, especially changes in laws or regulations applicable to our industry;|
|●||variations in our financial results or those of companies that are perceived to be similar to us;|
|●||our ability or inability to raise additional capital and the terms on which we raise it;|
|●||declines in the market prices of stocks generally;|
|●||trading volume of our common shares;|
|●||sales of our common shares by us or our stockholders;|
|●||general economic, industry and market conditions; and|
|●||other events or factors, including those resulting from such events, or the prospect of such events, including war, terrorism and other international conflicts, public health issues including health epidemics or pandemics, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, adverse weather and climate conditions could disrupt our operations or result in political or economic instability.|
These broad market and industry factors may seriously harm the market price of our common shares, regardless of our operating performance, and may be inconsistent with any improvements in actual or expected operating performance, financial condition or other indicators of value. Since the stock price of our common shares has fluctuated in the past, has been recently volatile and may be volatile in the future, investors in our common shares could incur substantial losses. In the past, following periods of volatility in the market, securities class-action litigation has often been instituted against companies. Such litigation, if instituted against us, could result in substantial costs and diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. There can be no guarantee that our stock price will remain at current prices.
Additionally, recently, securities of certain companies have experienced significant and extreme volatility in stock price due short sellers of shares of common shares, known as a “short squeeze”. These short squeezes have caused extreme volatility in those companies and in the market and have led to the price per share of those companies to trade at a significantly inflated rate that is disconnected from the underlying value of the company. Many investors who have purchased shares in those companies at an inflated rate face the risk of losing a significant portion of their original investment as the price per share has declined steadily as interest in those stocks have abated. While we have no reason to believe our shares would be the target of a short squeeze, there can be no assurance that we will not be in the future, and you may lose a significant portion or all of your investment if you purchase our shares at a rate that is significantly disconnected from our underlying value.
Future sales of our common shares could cause the market price of our common shares to decline.
The market price for our common shares could decline as a result of sales by existing shareholders of large numbers of our common shares, or as a result of the perception that such sales may occur. Sales of our common shares by these shareholders also might make it more difficult for us to sell equity or equity-related securities in the future at a time and at the prices we deem appropriate.
We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service our obligations, including our obligations under the Series A Convertible Preferred Shares.
In October 2020, we issued 200,000 units (“Units”) at a price of $25.00 per Unit and in July 2021, we completed a follow-on offering of 308,487 Series A Convertible Preferred Shares at $20.00 per share. Each Unit was immediately separable into (i) one 7.75% Series A Cumulative Convertible Preferred Share, par value $0.001 per share (the “Series A Convertible Preferred Shares”), and (ii) eight warrants (the “Warrants”). Our ability to make dividend payments on any outstanding shares of preferred stock, including the Series A Convertible Preferred Shares and any other preferred shares that we may issue in the future, and outstanding indebtedness will depend on our financial and operating performance, which is subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to certain financial, business and other factors beyond our control. We may be unable to maintain a level of cash flows from operating activities or excess cash balances sufficient to permit us to pay the liquidation preference and dividends on our preferred stock, including the Series A Convertible Preferred Shares, as well as principal and interest on our outstanding indebtedness. Please also see the risk factor “We currently have a working capital deficit and may not be able to fund our ongoing operations”.
Conversion of the Series A Convertible Preferred Shares and Warrants will dilute the ownership interest of existing shareholders
As of March 31, 2022, there are currently 449,673 Series A Convertible Preferred Shares and 1,590,540 Warrants outstanding. Each Series A Convertible Preferred Share is convertible into common stock at any time of the option of the holder. Additionally, each Warrant represents the right to purchase a common share at a pre-determined exercise price. The conversion of the Series A Convertible Preferred Shares and exercise of outstanding warrants will dilute the ownership interest of existing shareholders by up to 18.5%, exclusive of 4,683 warrants to acquire 4,683 Series A Convertible Preferred Shares convertible into 83,638 common shares and 444,571 warrants to acquire 444,571 warrants exercisable into common stock, which are not included in the figures provided above, were issued to certain employees of ThinkEquity as compensation in connection with ThinkEquity’s role as underwriter and placement agent in the Company’s public offerings of Series A Convertible Preferred Shares and the 2021 Private common stock transaction.
The price of our Common Stock may be volatile.
Our shares of common stock have been listed on the NASDAQ since November 2, 2015. We cannot assure you that the public market for our common stock will be active and liquid. The price of shares of our common stock may fluctuate due to a variety of factors, some of which are beyond our control, including:
|●||actual or anticipated fluctuations in our periodic results and those of other public companies in the shipping industry;|
|●||changes in market valuations of similar companies and stock market price and volume fluctuations generally;|
|●||speculation in the press or investment community, including on-line newsletters, trading platforms and chat-rooms, about our business or the shipping industry generally;|
|●||mergers and strategic alliances in the shipping industry;|
chartering environment, vessel values and conditions in the shipping industry;
|●||evolving investor preferences away from carbon- based companies and towards environmentally friendly or sustainable companies;|
|●||changes in government regulation;|
|●||introduction of new technology by the Company or its competitors;|
|●||commodity prices and in particular prices of oil and natural gas;|
|●||the ability or willingness of OPEC to set and maintain production levels for oil;|
|●||oil and gas production levels by non-OPEC countries;|
|●||potential or actual military conflicts or acts of terrorism;|
|●||natural disasters affecting the supply chain or use of petroleum products;|
|●||the failure of securities analysts to publish research about us, or shortfalls in our operating results compared to levels forecast by securities analysts;|
|●||lower trading market for our common stock, which makes it somewhat illiquid;|
|●||the Company’s capital structure;|
|●||additions or departures of key personnel;|
|●||announcements concerning us or our competitors;|
|●||the general state of the securities market, especially small cap equities; and|
|●||domestic and international economic, market and currency factors unrelated to our performance.|
These market and industry factors may materially reduce the market price of shares of our common stock, regardless of our operating performance. The seaborne transportation industry has been highly unpredictable and volatile. The market for shares of our common stock may be equally volatile, and was particularly volatile during mid- February 2021. For example, on February 16, 2021 our stock opened for trading at $1.67, hit an intraday high of $4.60 and closed at $2.96 based on volume of 45.5 million shares traded. Consequently, you may not be able to sell shares of our common stock at prices equal to or greater than those paid by you in any previous or future offerings.
We may issue additional shares of our common stock or other equity securities without stockholder approval, which would dilute your ownership interests and may depress the market price of our common stock.
We may issue additional shares of our common stock or other equity securities of equal or senior rank in the future in connection with, among other things, future vessel acquisitions, repayment of outstanding indebtedness or our equity incentive plan, without stockholder approval, in a number of circumstances. Our issuance of additional common stock or other equity securities of equal or senior rank would have the following effects:
|●||our existing stockholders’ proportionate ownership interest in us will decrease;|
|●||the amount of cash available per share, including for payment of dividends in the future, may decrease;|
|●||the relative voting strength of each previously outstanding share of our common stock may be diminished; and|
|●||the market price of our common stock may decline.|
Future sales of shares of our common stock by existing stockholders could negatively impact our ability to sell equity in the future and cause the market price of shares of our common stock to decline.
The market price for shares of our common stock could decline as a result of sales by existing stockholders of large numbers of shares of our common stock, including our affiliate Maritime Investors, or as a result of the perception that such sales may occur. Any future sales of shares of our common stock by these stockholders might make it more difficult to us to sell equity or equity-related securities in the future at a time and at the prices that we deem appropriate.
We are incorporated in the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of corporate or bankruptcy law and, as a result, stockholders may have fewer rights and protections under Marshall Islands law than under a U.S. jurisdiction.
Our corporate affairs are governed by our Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and the Marshall Islands Business Corporations Act (the “BCA”). The provisions of the BCA resemble provisions of the corporation laws of a number of states in the United States. However, there have been few judicial cases in the Republic of the Marshall Islands interpreting the BCA. The rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands are not as clearly established as the rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under statutes or judicial precedent in existence in certain U.S. jurisdictions. Stockholder rights may differ as well. While the BCA does specifically incorporate the non-statutory law, or judicial case law, of the State of Delaware and other states with substantially similar legislative provisions, our public stockholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions by management, directors or significant stockholders than would stockholders of a corporation incorporated in a U.S. jurisdiction. Additionally, the Republic of the Marshall Islands does not have a legal provision for bankruptcy or a general statutory mechanism for insolvency proceedings. As such, in the event of a future insolvency or bankruptcy, our stockholders and creditors may experience delays in their ability to recover their claims after any such insolvency or bankruptcy. Further, in the event of any bankruptcy, insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or similar proceeding involving us or any of our subsidiaries, bankruptcy laws other than those of the United States could apply. If we become a debtor under U.S. bankruptcy law, bankruptcy courts in the United States may seek to assert jurisdiction over all of our assets, wherever located, including property situated in other countries. There can be no assurance, however, that we would become a debtor in the United States, or that a U.S. bankruptcy court would be entitled to, or accept, jurisdiction over such a bankruptcy case, or that courts in other countries that have jurisdiction over us and our operations would recognize a U.S. bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction if any other bankruptcy court would determine it had jurisdiction.
Furthermore, many of our directors and executive officers are not residents of the United States. As a result, you may have difficulty serving legal process within the United States upon us. You may also have difficulty enforcing, both in and outside the United States, judgments you may obtain in U.S. courts against us in any action, including actions based upon the civil liability provisions of U.S. federal or state securities laws. Furthermore, there is substantial doubt that the courts of the Marshall Islands or of the non-U.S. jurisdictions in which our offices are located would enter judgments in original actions brought in those courts predicated on U.S. federal or state securities laws.
We are a holding company, and we depend on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute funds to us in order to satisfy our financial and other obligations.
We are a holding company and have no significant assets other than the equity interests in our subsidiaries. Our subsidiaries own all of our existing vessels, and subsidiaries we form in the future will own any other vessels we may acquire in the future. All payments under our charters will be made to our subsidiaries. As a result, our ability to meet our financial and other obligations, and to possibly pay dividends in the future, will depend on the performance of our subsidiaries and their ability to distribute funds to us. The ability of a subsidiary to make these distributions could be affected by a claim or other action by a third party, including a creditor, by the terms of our loan agreements, any financing agreement we may enter into in the future, or by Marshall Islands or Maltese law, which regulates the payment of dividends by our companies. The Alpha Bank loan agreements covering four of our subsidiaries, prohibit paying any dividends to us unless the ratio of the total liabilities, exclusive of the Amended and Restated Promissory Note, to the market value adjusted total assets (total assets adjusted to reflect the market value of all our vessels) of us and our subsidiaries as a group is 75% or less. As of December 31, 2021, the ratio of total liabilities over the market value of our adjusted total assets (calculated in accordance with the Alpha Bank Facilities) was 60%. If we or the borrowing subsidiaries do not satisfy the 75% requirement or if we or a subsidiary(s) breach a covenant in our loan agreements or any financing agreement we may enter into in the future, such subsidiary may be restricted from paying dividends. If we are unable to obtain funds from our subsidiaries, we will not be able to fund our liquidity needs or pay dividends in the future unless we obtain funds from other sources, which we may not be able to do.
We do not intend to pay common stock dividends in the near future and cannot assure you that we will ever pay common stock dividends.
We do not intend to pay common stock dividends in the near future, and we will make dividend payments to our stockholders in the future only if our board of directors, acting in its sole discretion, determines that such payments would be in our best interest and in compliance with relevant legal, fiduciary and contractual requirements. The payment of any common stock dividends is not guaranteed or assured, and, if paid at all in the future, may be discontinued at any time at the discretion of the board of directors.
Our ability to pay common stock dividends will in any event be subject to factors beyond our control, including the following, among others:
|●||our earnings, financial condition and anticipated cash requirements;|
|●||the terms of any current or future credit facilities or loan agreements;|
|●||the loss of a vessel or the acquisition of one or more vessels;|
|●||required capital expenditures;|
|●||increased or unanticipated expenses;|
|●||future issuances of securities;|
|●||disputes or legal actions; and|
|●||the requirements of the laws of the Marshall Islands, which limit payments of common stock dividends if we are, or could become, insolvent and generally prohibit the payment of common stock dividends other than from surplus (retaining earnings and the excess of consideration received for the sale of shares above the par value of the shares).|
The payment of common stock dividends would not be permitted if we are not in compliance with our loan agreements or in default of such agreements.
If our common stock does not meet the NASDAQ’s minimum share price requirement, and if we cannot cure such deficiency within the prescribed timeframe, our common stock could be delisted.
Under the rules of NASDAQ, listed companies are required to maintain a share price of at least $1.00 per share. If the share price declines below $1.00 for a period of 30 consecutive trading days, then the listed company has a cure period of at least 180 days to regain compliance with the $1.00 per share minimum. If the price of our common stock closes below $1.00 for 30 consecutive days, and if we cannot cure that deficiency within the 180-day timeframe, then our common stock could be delisted.
On June 16, 2021, Nasdaq notified us of our noncompliance with the minimum bid price of $1.00 over the previous 30 consecutive business days as required by Nasdaq’s listing rules. Following this deficiency notice, the Company was not in compliance with the minimum bid price for the second half of 2021. In mid- December 2021, NASDAQ granted us an additional 180-day extension until June 13, 2022 to regain compliance. However, as of the date of this annual report, we have not met the minimum bid price requirement, and the Company intends to effect a reverse stock split, which is subject to shareholder approval, to regain compliance with Nasdaq’s continued listing standards. There is no guarantee that the post-split share price will be sufficient to meet such standards.
A continued decline in the closing price of our common shares on Nasdaq could result in suspension or delisting procedures in respect of our common shares. The commencement of suspension or delisting procedures by an exchange remains, at all times, at the discretion of such exchange and would be publicly announced by the exchange. If a suspension or delisting were to occur, there would be significantly less liquidity in the suspended or delisted securities. In addition, our ability to raise additional necessary capital through equity or debt financing would be greatly impaired. Furthermore, with respect to any suspended or delisted common shares, we would expect decreases in institutional and other investor demand, analyst coverage, market making activity and information available concerning trading prices and volume, and fewer broker-dealers would be willing to execute trades with respect to such common shares. A suspension or delisting would likely decrease the attractiveness of our common shares as well as our other publicly-traded equity linked securities to investors and constitutes a breach under certain of our credit agreements and would cause the trading volume of our common shares to decline, which could result in a further decline in the market price of our common shares.
Finally, if the volatility in the market continues or worsens, it could have a further adverse effect on the market price of our common shares, regardless of our operating performance.
Furthermore, as a foreign private issuer, our corporate governance practices are exempt from certain NASDAQ corporate governance requirements applicable to U.S. domestic companies. As a result, our corporate governance practices may not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the NASDAQ corporate governance requirements.
We believe that our corporate governance practices are in compliance with the applicable NASDAQ listing rules and are not prohibited by the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Anti-takeover provisions in our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws could make it difficult for our stockholders to replace our board of directors or could have the effect of discouraging an acquisition, which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Several provisions of our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws make it difficult for our stockholders to change the composition of our board of directors in any one year. In addition, the same provisions may discourage, delay or prevent a merger or acquisition that stockholders may consider favorable. These provisions include:
|●||providing for a classified board of directors with staggered, three year terms;|
|●||authorizing the board of directors to issue so-called “blank check” preferred stock without stockholder approval;|
|●||prohibiting cumulative voting in the election of directors;|
|●||authorizing the removal of directors only for cause and only upon the affirmative vote of the holders of two-thirds of the outstanding shares of our common stock cast at an annual meeting of stockholders;|
|●||prohibiting stockholder action by written consent unless consent is signed by all stockholders entitled to vote on the action;|
|●||limiting the persons who may call special meetings of stockholders;|
|●||establishing advance notice requirements for nominations for election to our board of directors or for proposing matters that can be acted on by stockholders at stockholder meetings; and|
|●||restricting business combinations with interested stockholders.|
These anti-takeover provisions could substantially impede the ability of public stockholders to benefit from a change in control and, as a result, may adversely affect the market price of our common stock and your ability to realize any potential change of control premium.
We may have to pay tax on U.S. source income, which would reduce our earnings and cash flow.
Under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), 50% of the gross shipping income of a vessel-owning or chartering corporation (or “shipping income”) that is attributable to voyages that either begin or end in the United States is characterized as “U.S.-source shipping income” and such income is generally subject to a 4% U.S. federal income tax (on a gross basis) unless that corporation qualifies for exemption from tax under Section 883 of the Code or under an applicable U.S. income tax treaty.
During our 2021 taxable year, we and our ship owning subsidiaries are organized under the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the laws of the Republic of Malta. The Republic of the Marshall Islands is a country that has in place with the United States of America both an Order affording relief from double taxation in relation to the taxation of income derived from the international operation of ships and aircraft which entered into force on the 11th March 1997 in respect of income derived on or after the 1st January 1997; as well as a Convention for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income which entered into force on the 23rd November 2010.
Whilst it was agreed between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Malta that the provisions of the Convention shall not affect the continued validity and application of the preceding Order, the Convention nevertheless provides that it shall not restrict in any manner any benefit accorded by any other agreement to which the Contracting States are parties.
Under the Order, in accordance with Sections 872(b) and 883(A) of the Internal Revenue Code, the United States of America agreed to exempt from tax gross income derived from the international operation of ships by corporation which are incorporated in Malta. Such exemption is applicable only if the corporation meets one of the following conditions:
the corporation’s stock is primarily and regularly traded on an established securities market in Malta. another country which grants a reciprocal exemption to U.S. corporations or the United States, or
more than fifty (50) percent of the value of the corporation’s stock is owned directly or indirectly by individuals who are residents of Malta or of another foreign country which grants an equivalent exemption to U.S. corporations or by a corporation organized in a country which grants an equivalent exemption to U.S. corporations and whose stock is primarily and regularly traded on an established securities market in that country, another country which grants an equivalent exemption to U.S. corporations, or the United States.
The Convention, in turn, under Article 8 dealing specifically with shipping and air transport, sets out the relevant rule to the effect that profits of an enterprise of a contracting state from the operation of ships in international traffic shall be taxable only in that state. The Convention defines the term “enterprise of a Contracting State” to mean an enterprise carried on by a resident of a Contracting State; and under Article 4 the term “resident” is defined to mean any person who, under the laws of that State, is liable to tax therein by reason of his domicile, residence, citizenship, place of management, place of incorporation, or any other criterion of a similar nature.
Various tax rules may adversely impact the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
The Company may be subject to taxes in the United States and other jurisdictions in which it operates. If the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”), or other taxing authorities disagree with the positions the Company has taken on the tax returns of its subsidiaries, the Company could face additional tax liability, including interest and penalties. If material, payment of such additional amounts upon final adjudication of any disputes could have a material impact on the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, complying with new tax rules, laws or regulations could impact the Company’s financial condition, and increases to federal or state statutory tax rates and other changes in tax laws, rules or regulations may increase the Company’s effective tax rate. Any increase in the Company’s effective tax rate could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
If U.S. tax authorities were to treat us or one or more of our subsidiaries as a “passive foreign investment company,” there could be adverse tax consequences to U.S. holders.
A non-U.S. corporation will be treated as a “passive foreign investment company” (or a “PFIC”) for U.S. federal income tax purposes if either (i) at least 75% of its gross income for any taxable year consists of certain types of ”passive income,” or (ii) at least 50% of the average value of the corporation’s assets produce, or are held for the production of, such 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 trade or business. For purposes of these tests, time and voyage charter income is generally viewed as income derived from the performance of services and not rental income and, therefore, would not constitute “passive income.” U.S. stockholders of a PFIC are subject to a disadvantageous U.S. federal income tax regime with respect to the income derived by the PFIC, the distributions they receive from the PFIC and the gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their shares in the PFIC.
U.S. shareholders of a PFIC generally are subject to an adverse U.S. federal income tax regime with respect to the income derived by the PFIC, the distributions they receive from the PFIC and the gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their shares in the PFIC, and would be subject to annual information reporting to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”). If we were to be treated as a PFIC for any taxable year (and regardless of whether we remained a PFIC for subsequent taxable years), a U.S. shareholder who does not make certain mitigating elections (as described more fully under “Item 10. Additional Information – E. Taxation – U.S. Federal Income Taxation of U.S. Holders”) would be required to allocate ratably over such U.S. shareholder’s holding period any “excess distributions” received (i.e., the portion of any distributions received on our common stock in a taxable year in excess of 125% of certain average historic annual distributions) and any gain realized on the sale, exchange or other disposition of our common stock. The amount allocated to the current taxable year and any year prior to the first year in which we were a PFIC would be subject to U.S. federal income tax as ordinary income and the amount allocated to each of the other taxable years would be subject to tax at the highest rate of tax in effect for the applicable class of taxpayer for that year. An interest charge for the deemed deferral benefit would be imposed with respect to the resulting tax attributable to each such other taxable year. Investors in our common stock are urged to consult with their own tax advisors regarding the tax consequences of the PFIC rules to them, including the benefit of any available mitigating elections. For a more complete discussion of the U.S. Federal income tax consequences of passive foreign investment company characterization, see “Item 10. Additional Information – E. Taxation – U.S. Federal Income Taxation of U.S. Holders.”
Based on our current and projected operations, we do not believe that we (or any of our subsidiaries) were a PFIC in our 2021 taxable year, and we do not expect to become (or any of our subsidiaries to become) a PFIC with respect to the 2022 or any later taxable year. In this regard, we intend to treat the gross income we derive or are deemed to derive from our time chartering activities as services income, rather than rental income. Accordingly, we believe that our income from our time chartering 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 “passive assets.” There is, however, no direct legal authority under the PFIC rules addressing our method of operation. 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 (or were in a prior taxable year) a PFIC. Moreover, no assurance can be given that we would not constitute a PFIC for any taxable year if there were to be changes in the nature and extent of our operations.
If U.S. tax authorities were to treat us as a “controlled foreign corporation,” there could be adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to certain U.S. investors.
If more than 50% of the voting power or value of our shares is treated as owned by U.S. citizens or residents, U.S. corporations or partnerships, or U.S. estates or trusts (as defined for U.S. federal income tax purposes), each of which owned at least 10% of our voting power or value (each, a “U.S. Stockholder”), then we and one or more of our subsidiaries will be a controlled foreign corporation (or “CFC”) for U.S. federal income tax purposes. If we were treated as a CFC for any taxable year, our U.S. Stockholders may face adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences and information reporting obligations. See “Item 10. Additional Information – E. Taxation – U.S. Federal Income Taxation of U.S. Holders.”
ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
A. History and Development of the Company
Our legal and commercial name is Pyxis Tankers Inc. We are an international maritime transportation holding company that was incorporated under the laws of the BCA on March 23, 2015, and we maintain our principal place of business at the offices of our ship manager, Maritime, at 59 K. Karamanli, Maroussi 15125, Athens, Greece. Our telephone number at that address is +30 210 638 0200. Our registered agent in the Marshall Islands is The Trust Company of the Marshall Islands, Inc. located at Trust Company Complex, Ajeltake Road, Ajeltake Island, Majuro, Marshall Islands MH96960. Our website is www.pyxistankers.com. 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 those websites is incorporated into or forms a part of this Annual Report.
As of March 31, 2022, we own the vessels in our current fleet through five separate wholly-owned subsidiaries that are incorporated in the Marshall Islands and Malta. We acquired certain vessel-owning subsidiaries from affiliates of our founder and Chief Executive Officer in connection with our merger with LookSmart in October 2015, three of which are part of our current fleet. Pursuant to the foregoing, LookSmart merged with and into Maritime Technologies Corp. and we commenced trading on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbol “PXS”. As part of the merger transactions, LookSmart transferred all of its then existing business, assets and liabilities to its wholly-owned subsidiary, which was spun off to the LookSmart stockholders.
We periodically assess the value of our fleet from an operational and financial standpoint as well as potential strategic opportunities, such as vessel acquisitions or dispositions and equity and debt capital raises.
Recent and Other Developments
Sale of Two Vessels: In January and March, 2022, we sold the “Northsea Alpha” and Northsea Beta, respectively, two 2010 built 8,600 dwt product tankers for an aggregate sale price of $8.9 million. After the repayment of the outstanding indebtedness securing these vessels and the payment of various transaction costs, we received aggregated net cash proceeds of approximately $2.7 million, which was used for working capital purposes.
Dividend Payments: On January 20, 2022, February 23, 2022 and March 21, 2022, we paid cash dividends of $0.1615 per Series A Convertible Preferred Share for each month.
Receipt of NASDAQ Notice: On June 16, 2021, Nasdaq notified us of our noncompliance with the minimum bid price of $1.00 over the previous 30 consecutive business days as required by Nasdaq’s listing rules. Following this deficiency notice, we were not in compliance with the minimum bid price for the second half of 2021. In mid- December 2021, NASDAQ granted us an additional 180-day extension until June 13, 2022 to regain compliance. However, as of the date of this annual report, we have not met the minimum bid price requirement, and the Company intends to affect a reverse stock split, which is subject to shareholder approval, to regain compliance with Nasdaq’s continued listing. There is no guarantee that the post-split share price will be sufficient to meet such standards.
Uncertainties caused by the Russian-Ukrainian War: The recent outbreak of war between Russia and the Ukraine has disrupted supply chains and caused instability in the global economy, while the United States and the EU, among other countries, announced sanctions against Russia, including sanctions targeting the Russian oil sector, among those a prohibition on the import of oil and oil products from Russia to the United States. The ongoing conflict could result in the imposition of further economic sanctions against Russia, and given Russia’s role as a major global exporter of crude oil and oil products, the Company’s business may be adversely impacted. Currently, the Company’s charter contracts, or our operations, have not been affected by the events in Russia and Ukraine. However, it is possible that in the future third parties with whom the Company has or will have charter contracts may be impacted by such events. While in general much uncertainty remains regarding the global impact of the conflict in Ukraine, it is possible that such tensions could adversely affect the Company’s business, financial condition, results of operation and cash flows. See “Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors – 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”.
B. Business Overview
We are an international maritime transportation company focused on the product tanker sector. As of March 31, 2022, our fleet is comprised of five double hull product tankers, which are employed under a mix of spot and medium-term time charters. As of February 28, 2022, our MR fleet had an average age of 8.5 years compared to an industry average of approximately 12.8 years, with a total cargo carrying capacity of 249,554 dwt. We acquired three of these vessels in 2015 and one tanker in 2021 from affiliates of our founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Eddie Valentis. All of the vessels in the fleet are MR tankers, all of which have eco-efficient or eco-modified designs. Each of the vessels in the fleet has IMO certifications and is capable of transporting refined petroleum products, such as naphtha, gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, diesel and fuel oil, as well as other liquid bulk items, such as vegetable oils and organic chemicals.
Our principal objective is to own and operate our fleet in a manner that will enable us to benefit from short- and long-term trends that we expect in the product tanker sector to maximize our revenues. We intend to expand the fleet through selective acquisitions of modern product tankers, primarily MRs, and to employ our vessels through time charters to creditworthy customers and on the spot market. We intend to continually evaluate the markets in which we operate and, based upon our view of market conditions, adjust our mix of vessel employment by counterparty and stagger our charter expirations. In addition, we may choose to opportunistically direct asset sales or acquisitions when conditions are appropriate. In January and March, 2022, our two small tankers, “Northsea Alpha” and Northsea Beta, respectively, were sold to a third party.
The following table provides summary information concerning our fleet as of March 31, 2022:
|Vessel Name||Shipyard||Vessel type||Carrying Capacity |
|Year Built||Type of charter|
Charter (1) Rate
|Anticipated Earliest Redelivery Date|
|Pyxis Lamda||SPP / S. Korea||MR||50,145||2017||Time||15,700||July 2022|
|Pyxis Epsilon||SPP* / S. Korea||MR||50,295||2015||Spot||n/a||n/a|
|Pyxis Theta||SPP / S. Korea||MR||51,795||2013||Spot||n/a||n/a|
|Pyxis Karteria||Hyundai** / S. Korea||MR||46,652||2013||Time||14,000||May 2022|
|Pyxis Malou||SPP / S. Korea||MR||50,667||2009||Spot||n/a||n/a|
|(1)||These are gross charter rates and do not reflect any commissions payable.|
*SPP is SPP Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.
** Hyundai is Hyundai Heavy Industries
We generate revenues by charging customers a fee, typically called charter hire, for the use of our vessels. Customers utilize the vessels to transport their refined petroleum products and other liquid bulk items and have historically entered into the following types of contractual arrangements with us or our affiliates:
|●||Time charters: A time charter is a contract for the use of a vessel for a fixed period of time at a specified daily rate. Under a time charter, the vessel owner provides crewing and other services related to the vessel’s operation, the cost of which is included in the daily rate. The customer, also called a charterer, is responsible for substantially all of the vessel’s voyage expenses, which are costs related to a particular voyage including the cost for bunkers and any port fees, cargo loading and unloading expenses, canal tolls and agency fees. In addition, a time charter may include a profit share component, which would enable us to participate in increased profits in the event rates increase above the specified daily rate.|
|●||Spot charters: A spot charter is a contract to carry a specific cargo for a single voyage. Spot charters for voyages involve the carriage of a specific amount and type of cargo on a load-port to discharge-port basis, subject to various cargo handling terms, and the vessel owner is paid on a per-ton basis. Under a spot voyage charter, the vessel owner is responsible for the payment of all expenses including voyage expenses, such as port, canal and bunker costs.|
The table below sets forth the basic distinctions between these types of charters:
|Time Charter||Spot Charters|
|Typical contract length||Typically 3 months - 5 years or more||Indefinite but typically less than 3 months|
|Basis on which charter rate is paid||Per day||Per ton, typically|
|Voyage expenses||Charterer pays||We pay|
|Vessel operating costs (1)||We pay||We pay|
|Off-hire (2)||We pay||We pay|
|(1)||We are responsible for vessel operating costs, which include crewing, repairs and maintenance, insurance, stores, lube oils, communication expenses and the commercial and technical management fees payable to our ship managers. The largest components of our vessel operating costs are generally crews and repairs and maintenance.|
|(2)||“Off-hire” refers to the time a vessel is not available for service due primarily to scheduled and unscheduled repairs or dry-docking.|
Under both time and spot charters on the vessels in the fleet, we are responsible for the technical management of the vessel and for maintaining the vessel, periodic dry-docking, cleaning and painting and performing work required by regulations. We have entered into a contract with Maritime to provide commercial, sale and purchase, and other operations and maintenance services to all of the vessels in our fleet. Our vessel-owning subsidiaries have contracted with ITM, a third party technical manager and subsidiary of V. Ships Limited, to provide crewing and technical management to all of the vessels in our fleet. Please see “– Management of Ship Operations, Administration and Safety” below. We intend to continue to outsource the day-to-day crewing and technical management of all our vessels to ITM. We believe that ITM has a strong reputation for providing high quality technical vessel services, including expertise in efficiently managing tankers.
In the future, we may also place one or more of our vessels in pooling arrangements or on bareboat charters:
|●||Pooling Arrangements. In pooling arrangements, vessels are managed by a single pool manager who markets a number of vessels as a single, cohesive fleet and collects, or pools, their net earnings prior to distributing them to the individual owners, typically under a pre-arranged weighting system that recognizes a vessel’s earnings capacity based on various factors. The vessel owner also generally pays commissions on pooling arrangements generally ranging from 1.25% to 5.0% of the earnings.|
|●||Bareboat Charters. A bareboat charter is a contract pursuant to which the vessel owner provides the vessel to the charterer for a fixed period of time at a specified daily rate, and the charterer generally provides for all of the vessel’s operating expenses in addition to the voyage costs and assumes all risk of operation. A bareboat charterer will generally be responsible for operating and maintaining the vessel and will bear all costs and expenses with respect to the vessel, including dry-dockings and insurance.|
Our Competitive Strengths
We believe that we possess a number of competitive strengths relative to other product tanker companies, including:
|●||High Quality Fleet of Modern Tankers. As of February 28, 2022, our fleet had an average age of 8.5 years, compared to an industry average of approximately 12.8 years. Our fleet of vessels consists of MR tankers that were built in Korean shipyards. We believe these MR tankers provide our customers with high quality and reliable transportation of cargos at competitive operating costs and operational flexibility. Owning a modern fleet reduces off-hire time, repairs and maintenance costs, including dry-docking expenses, and improves safety and environmental performance. Also, lenders are attracted to modern, well- maintained vessels, which can result in more reasonable terms for secured loans.|
|●||Established Relationships with Charterers. We have developed long-standing relationships with a number of leading tanker charterers, including major integrated and national oil companies, refiners, international trading firms and large vessel operators, which we believe will benefit us in the future as we continue to grow our business. Our customers have included, among others, Trafigura, BP, Equinor, Total, Vitol, Shell, ST Shipping (an affiliate of Glencore), Clearlake (a subsidiary of Gunvor), Petrobras, Valero, NIDAS and their respective subsidiaries. We strive to meet high standards of operating performance, achieve cost-efficient operations, reliability and safety in all of our operations and maintain long-term relationships with our customers. In concert with our technical manager, we constantly monitor and report the environmental impact of our vessels to address increasing industry-wide emissions concerns. We believe that our charterers value our fleet of modern, quality tankers as well as our management team’s industry experience. These attributes should allow us to continue to charter our vessels and expand our fleet.|
|●||Competitive Cost Structure. Even though we currently operate a relatively small number of vessels, we believe we are relatively cost competitive as compared to other companies in our industry. This is a result of our fleet profile, our experienced technical and commercial managers as well as the hands-on approach and substantial equity ownership of our management team. Moreover, a constant focus on operational improvements is a key component of our corporate culture. Our technical manager, ITM, manages approximately 50 tankers, including our vessels. Our technical and commercial management fees aggregate to $756 per day per vessel, which is competitive within our industry. Our collaborative approach between our management team and our external managers creates a platform that we believe is able to deliver excellent operational results at competitive costs and positions us for further growth. Total daily operational costs is a non-U.S. GAAP measure.|
|●||Well-Positioned to Capitalize on Improving Rates. We believe our current fleet is positioned to capitalize when spot and time charter rates improve. As of March 31, 2022, we had two tankers contracted under time charter and three under spot voyages. As of March 31, 2022, 14% of our fleet’s remaining available days in 2022 were contracted, exclusive of charterers’ options. For any additional tankers we may acquire, we expect to continue to employ our mixed chartering strategy.|
|●||Experienced Management Team. Our four senior officers, led by our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Eddie Valentis, have combined over 100 years of industry experience in shipping, including vessel ownership, acquisitions, divestitures, newbuildings, dry-dockings and vessel modifications, on-board operations, chartering, technical supervision, corporate management, legal/regulatory, accounting and finance.|
Our Business Strategy
Our principal objective is to own, operate and grow our fleet in a manner that will enable us to benefit from short- and long-term trends that we expect in the tanker sector. Our strategy to achieve this objective includes the following:
|●||Maintain High Quality Fleet of Modern Tankers. We intend to maintain a high quality fleet that meets rigorous industry standards and our charterers’ requirements and that has an average age of 10 years or less. We consider our fleet to be high quality based on the specifications to which our vessels were built and the reputation of each of the shipyards that built the vessels. We believe that our customers prefer the better reliability, fewer off-hire days and greater operating efficiency of modern, high quality vessels. Our MR tankers are all eco-efficient and eco-modified designed vessels which offer the benefits of lower bunker consumption and reduced emissions. In addition, we are able to cost-effectively operate standard older MRs based on our prior experience. We also intend to maintain the quality of our fleet through ITM’s comprehensive planned maintenance and preventive maintenance programs.|
|●||Grow the Fleet Opportunistically. We plan to take advantage of what we believe to be attractive asset values in the product tanker sector to selectively expand our fleet through acquisitions. We believe that demand for tankers will expand as trade routes for liquid cargoes continue to evolve to developed markets, such as those in the United States and Europe, and as changes in refinery production patterns in developing countries such as China and India, as well as in the Middle East, contribute to increases in the transportation of refined petroleum products. We believe that a diversified tanker fleet will enable us to serve our customers across the major tanker trade routes and to continue to develop a global presence. We have strong relationships with reputable owners, charterers, banks and shipyards, which we believe will assist us in identifying attractive vessel acquisition opportunities. We intend to focus primarily on the acquisition of IMO II and III class MR tankers of 10 years of age or less, which have been built in Tier 1 Asian shipyards and have modern bunker efficient designs given demands for lower bunker consumption and concerns about environmental emissions. We will also consider acquisitions of newbuild vessels (also called re-sales), which typically have lower operating costs and emissions, and of fleets of existing vessels when such acquisitions are accretive to stockholders or provide other strategic or operating advantages to us.|
|●||Optimize the Operating Efficiency of our Fleet. We evaluate each of our existing and future vessels regarding their operating efficiency, and if we believe it will advance the operation of our fleet and benefit our business, we may make vessel modifications to improve fuel consumption and meet stricter environmental standards. We will consider making such modifications when the vessels complete their charter contracts or undergo scheduled dry-docking, including installation of required of ballast water treatment systems, or with new acquisitions, at the time we acquire them. Among the modifications that we monitor and may make in the future to our vessels include: fitting devices that reduce main engine bunker consumption without reducing available power and speed; fitting devices that improve bunker combustion and therefore bunker consumption for auxiliary equipment; efficient electrical power generation and usage; minimizing hull and propeller frictional losses; systems that allow for optimized routing; and systems that allow for improved maintenance, performance monitoring and management. We refer to vessels that have one or more of these modifications as “eco-modified.” We have evaluated and successfully installed in vessels a variety of technologies and equipment that have resulted in operating efficiencies and lower emissions. For example, we completed modifications on “Pyxis Malou” during its first special survey that we believe has resulted in our attaining an attractive return on such capital investment in the first year of operation. In 2019, we installed a BWTS during her second special survey in order to meet new environmental regulations. We will continue to build on our experience with these and other modifications and seek methods to efficiently improve the operational performance of our vessels while keeping costs competitive and meet full regulatory compliance and increasing environmental standards.|
|●||Utilize Portfolio Approach for Commercial Employment. We expect to employ the vessels in our fleet under a mix of spot and time charters (with and without profit share), bareboat charters and pooling arrangements. We expect to diversify our charters by customer and staggered duration. In addition, any long-term time charters we enter into with a profit sharing component will offer us some protection when charter rates decrease, while allowing us to share in increased profits in the event rates increase. We believe that this portfolio approach to vessel employment is an integral part of risk management which will provide us a base of stable cash flows while providing us the optionality to take advantage of rising charter rates and market volatility in the spot market.|
|●||Preserve Strong Safety Record & Commitment to Customer Service and Support. Maritime and ITM have strong histories of complying with rigorous health, safety and environmental protection standards and have excellent vessel safety records. We expect to continue to meet charterers’ (and lenders’) reporting requirements of vessel emissions. We intend to maintain these high standards in order to provide our customers with a high level of safety, customer service and support.|
|●||Maintain Financial Flexibility. We intend to maintain financial flexibility to expand our fleet by targeting a balanced capital structure of debt and equity. As part of our risk management policies, depending on the chartering environment, we intend to enter into time charters for most of the vessels we acquire, which provide us predictable cash flows for the duration of the charter and attract lower-cost debt financing at more favorable terms. We believe this will allow us to build upon our strong commercial lending relationships and optimize our ability to access the public capital markets to respond opportunistically to changes in our industry and financial market conditions.|
Support Good Environmental, Social & Governance Standards. We comply with all current vessel environmental regulations, and continue to monitor and record vessel emissions and hazardous materials inventory. We emphasize operational safety and quality maintenance for all our vessels and crews. We try to ensure a productive work environment on board and on shore in order to meet all safety and health regulations, labor conditions and respect for human rights. Our outsourcing of technical, commercial and administrative management services to ITM and Maritime are critical to effectively achieve these objectives. Lastly, we are committed to good corporate governance standards as a fully compliant, publicly-listed company in the U.S.
For a description of the effect of seasonality on our business, please see “Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors – Product tanker rates fluctuate based on seasonal variations in demand”.
Management of Ship Operations, Administration and Safety
Our executive officers and secretary are employed by and their services are provided by Maritime.
Typically, Maritime and ITM enter into individual ship management agreements with our vessel-owning subsidiaries pursuant to which they provide us with:
|●||commercial management services, which include obtaining employment, that is, the chartering, for our vessels and managing our relationships with charterers;|
|●||strategic management services, which include providing us with strategic guidance with respect to locating, purchasing, financing and selling vessels;|
|●||technical management services, which include managing day-to-day vessel operations, performing general vessel maintenance, ensuring regulatory and classification society compliance, supervising the maintenance and general efficiency of vessels, arranging the hire of qualified officers and crew, arranging and supervising dry-docking and repairs, arranging insurance for vessels, purchasing stores, supplies, spares and new equipment for vessels, appointing supervisors and technical consultants and providing technical support; and|
|●||shoreside personnel who carry out the management functions described above.|
Head Management Agreement and Ship Management Agreements with Maritime. Headquartered in Maroussi, Greece, Maritime was formed in May 2007 by our founder and Chief Executive Officer to take advantage of opportunities in the tanker sector. Maritime’s business employs or receives consulting services from 13 people in four departments: technical, operations, chartering and finance/accounting. We entered into a head management agreement with Maritime (the “Head Management Agreement”) pursuant to which they provide us and our vessels, among other things, with ship management services and administrative services. Under the Head Management Agreement, each vessel-owning subsidiary that owns a vessel in our fleet also enters into a separate ship management agreement with Maritime. Maritime provides us and our vessels with the following services: commercial, sale and purchase, provisions, insurance, bunkering, operations and maintenance, dry-docking and newbuilding construction supervision. Maritime also provides administrative services to us such as executive, financial, accounting and other administrative services. As part of its responsibilities, Maritime supervises the crewing and technical management performed by ITM for all our vessels. In return for such services, Maritime receives from us:
|●||for each vessel while in operation a fee of $325 per day subject to annual inflationary adjustments, and for each vessel under construction, a fee of $450 per day, plus an additional daily fee, which is dependent on the seniority of the personnel, to cover the cost of the engineers employed to conduct the supervision (collectively the “Ship-Management Fees”);|
|●||1.00% on the price of any vessel sale transaction;|
|●||1.25% of all chartering, hiring and freight revenue we receive that was procured by or through Maritime; and|
|●||a lump sum of approximately $1.6 million per annum for the administrative services it provides to us (the “Administration Fees”).|
The Ship-Management Fees and the Administration Fees are subject to annual adjustments to take into account inflation in Greece or such other country where Maritime was headquartered during the preceding year. In 2020 there was nominal deflation in Greece, so there was no scheduled increase in these fees for 2021. However, effective January 1, 2022, the Ship-Management Fees and the Administration Fees were increased by 1.23% in line with the average inflation rate in Greece in 2021 and were approximately $336 per day per ship and $1.7 million annually, respectively. We believe these amounts payable to Maritime are very competitive to many of our U.S. publicly listed tanker competitors, especially given our relative size. We anticipate that once our fleet reaches 15 tankers, the fee that we pay to Maritime for its ship management services for vessels in operation will recognize a volume discount in an amount to be determined by the parties at that time.
The Head Management Agreement was automatically renewed on March 23, 2020 for a five-year period and may be terminated by either party on 90 days’ notice prior to March 23, 2025.
For more information on our Head Management Agreement and our ship management agreements with Maritime, please see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions – B. Related Party Transactions.”
Ship Management Agreements with ITM. We outsource the day-to-day technical management of our vessels to an unaffiliated third party, ITM, which has been certified for ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004. Each vessel-owning subsidiary that owns a vessel in our fleet under a time or spot charter also typically enters into a separate ship management agreement with ITM. ITM is responsible for all technical management, including crewing, maintenance, repair, dry-dockings and maintaining required vetting approvals. In performing its services, ITM is responsible for operating a management system that complies, and ITM ensures that each vessel and its crew comply, with all applicable health, safety and environmental laws and regulations. In addition to reimbursement of actual vessel related operating costs, we also pay an annual fee to ITM which in 2021 was $155,000 per vessel (equivalent to approximately $425 per day). This fee is reduced to the extent any vessel ITM manages is not fully operational for a time, which is also referred to as any period of “lay-up.”
Each ship management agreement with ITM continues by its terms until it is terminated by either party. The ship management agreements can be cancelled by us for any reason at any time upon three months’ advance notice, but neither party can cancel the agreement, other than for specified reasons, until 18 months after the initial effective date of the ship management agreement. We have the right to terminate the ship management agreement for a specific vessel upon 60 days’ notice if in our reasonable opinion ITM fails to manage the vessel in accordance with sound ship management practice. ITM can cancel the ship management agreement if it has not received payment it requests within 60 days. Each ship management agreement will be terminated if the relevant vessel is sold (other than to our affiliates), becomes a total loss, becomes a constructive, compromised or arranged total loss or is requisitioned for hire.
Insurance. We are obligated to keep insurance for each of our vessels, including hull and machinery insurance and protection and indemnity insurance (including pollution risks and crew insurances), and we must ensure each vessel carries a certificate of financial responsibility as required. We are responsible to ensure that all premiums are paid. Please see “Item 4. Information on the Company – B. Business Overview. – Risk Management and Insurance” below.
Classification, Inspection and Maintenance
Every large, commercial seagoing vessel must be “classed” by a classification society. The classification society certifies that the vessel is “in class,” signifying that the vessel has been built and is maintained in accordance with the rules of the classification society and complies with applicable rules and regulations of the vessel’s country of registry and the international conventions of which that country is a party. In addition, where surveys of vessels are required by international conventions and corresponding laws and ordinances of a flag state, the classification society will undertake them on application or by official order, acting on behalf of the authorities concerned. The classification society also undertakes on request other surveys and checks that are required by regulations and requirements of the flag state. These surveys are subject to agreements made in each individual case and/or to the regulations of the country concerned.
For maintenance of the class, regular and extraordinary surveys of hull and machinery, including the electrical plant and any special equipment, are required to be performed as follows:
Annual Surveys. For seagoing vessels, annual surveys are conducted for the hull and the machinery, including the electrical plant, and where applicable, on special equipment classed at intervals of 12 months from the date of commencement of the class period indicated in the certificate.
Intermediate Surveys. Extended annual surveys are referred to as intermediate surveys and typically are conducted two and one-half years after commissioning and each class renewal. Intermediate surveys may be carried out on the occasion of the second or third annual survey.
Special (Class Renewal) Surveys. Class renewal surveys, also known as “special surveys,” are carried out on the vessel’s hull and machinery, including the electrical plant, and on any special equipment classed at the intervals indicated by the character of classification for the hull. During the special survey, the vessel is thoroughly examined, including audio-gauging to determine the thickness of the steel structures. Should the thickness be found to be less than class requirements, the classification society would prescribe steel renewals. The classification society may grant a one-year grace period for completion of the special survey. Substantial amounts of funds may have to be spent for steel renewals to pass a special survey if the vessel experiences excessive wear and tear. In lieu of the special survey every four or five years, depending on whether a grace period is granted, a ship owner has the option of arranging with the classification society for the vessel’s hull or machinery to be on a continuous survey cycle, in which every part of the vessel would be surveyed within a five-year cycle. At an owner’s discretion, the surveys required for class renewal may be split according to an agreed schedule to extend over the entire period of class. This process is referred to as continuous class renewal.
Occasional Surveys. These are inspections carried out as a result of unexpected events, for example, an accident or other circumstances requiring unscheduled attendance by the classification society for re-confirming that the vessel maintains its class, following such an unexpected event.
All areas subject to survey as defined by the classification society are required to be surveyed at least once per class period, unless shorter intervals between surveys are prescribed elsewhere. The period between two subsequent surveys of each area must not exceed five years. Most vessels are also dry-docked every 30 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater parts and for repairs related to inspections. If any defects are found, the classification surveyor will issue a “recommendation” which must be rectified by the ship owner within prescribed time limits.
Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage that a vessel be certified as “in class” by a classification society which is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies (the “IACS”). In December 2013, the IACS adopted new harmonized Common Structure Rules which apply to oil tankers and bulk carriers constructed on or after July 1, 2015. All of our vessels are certified as being “in-class” by NKK and DNV GL. We expect that all vessels that we purchase will be certified prior to their delivery and that we will have no obligation to take delivery of the vessel if it is not certified as “in class” on the date of closing.
Risk Management and Insurance
The operation of any cargo carrying ocean-going vessel embraces a wide variety of risks, including the following:
|●||Physical damage to the vessel:|
|Ø||mechanical failure or damage, for example by reason of the seizure of a main engine crankshaft;|
|Ø||physical damage to the vessel by reason of a grounding, collision or fire; and|
|Ø||other physical damage due to crew negligence.|
|●||Liabilities to third parties:|
|Ø||cargo loss or shortage incurred during the voyage;|
|Ø||damage to third party property, such as during a collision or berthing operation;|
|Ø||personal injury or death to crew and/or passengers sustained due to accident; and|
|Ø||environmental damage, for example arising from marine disasters such as oil spills and other environmental mishaps.|
|●||Business interruption and war risk or war-like operations:|
|this would include business interruption, for example by reason of political disturbance, strikes or labor disputes, or physical damage to the vessel and/or crew and cargo resulting from deliberate actions such as piracy, war-like actions between countries, terrorism and malicious acts or vandalism.|
The value of such losses or damages may vary from modest sums, for example for a small cargo shortage damage claim, to catastrophic liabilities, for example arising out of a marine disaster such as a serious oil or chemical spill, which may be virtually unlimited. While we expect to maintain the traditional range of marine and liability insurance coverage for our fleet (hull and machinery insurance, war risks insurance and protection and indemnity coverage) in amounts and to extents that we believe will be prudent to cover normal risks in our operations, we cannot insure against all risks, and it cannot be assured that all covered risks are adequately insured against. Furthermore, there can be no guarantee that any specific claim will be paid by the insurer or that it will always be possible to obtain insurance coverage at reasonable rates. Any uninsured or under-insured loss could harm our business and financial condition.
The following table sets forth information regarding the insurance coverage on our existing fleet as of March 31, 2022.
|Type||Aggregate Sum Insured For All Vessels in our Existing Fleet|
|Hull and Machinery||$199.0 million|
|War Risk||$199.0 million|
|Protection and Indemnity (“P&I”)||Pollution liability claims: limited to $1.0 billion per vessel per incident|
Hull and Machinery Insurance and War Risk Insurance
The principal coverages for marine risks (covering loss or damage to the vessels, rather than liabilities to third parties) are hull and machinery insurance and war risk insurance. These address the risks of the actual (or constructive) total loss of a vessel and accidental damage to a vessel’s hull and machinery, for example from running aground or colliding with another vessel. These insurances provide coverage which is limited to an agreed “insured value” which, as a matter of policy, is never less than the particular vessel’s fair market value. Reimbursement of loss under such coverage is subject to policy deductibles which vary according to the vessel and the nature of the coverage.
Protection and Indemnity Insurance
P&I insurance is the principal coverage for a ship owner’s third party liabilities as they arise out of the operation of its vessel. Such liabilities include those arising, for example, from the injury or death of crew, passengers and other third parties working on or about the vessel to whom the ship owner is responsible, or from loss of or damage to cargo carried on board or any other property owned by third parties to whom the ship owner is liable. P&I coverage is traditionally (and for the most part) provided by mutual insurance associations, originally established by ship owners to provide coverage for risks that were not covered by the marine policies that developed through the Lloyd’s market.
Our P&I coverage for liabilities arising out of oil pollution is limited to $1.0 billion per vessel per incident in our existing fleet. As the P&I associations are mutual in nature, historically, there has been no limit to the value of coverage afforded. In recent years, however, because of the potentially catastrophic consequences to the membership of a P&I association having to make additional calls upon the membership for further funds to meet a catastrophic liability, the associations have introduced a formula based overall limit of coverage. Although contingency planning by the managements of the various associations has reduced the risk to as low as reasonably practicable, it nevertheless remains the case that an adverse claims experience across an association’s membership as a whole may require the members of that association to pay, in due course, unbudgeted additional funds to balance its books.
Not all risks are insured and not all risks are insurable. The principal insurable risks which nevertheless remain uninsured across our fleet are “loss of hire” and “strikes.” We will not insure these risks because the costs are regarded as disproportionate. These insurances provide, subject to a deductible, a limited indemnity for revenue or “loss of hire” that is not receivable by the ship-owner under the policy. For example, loss of hire risk may be covered on a 14/90/90 basis, with a 14 days’ deductible, 90 days cover per incident and a 90-day overall limit per vessel per year. Should a vessel on time charter, where the vessel is paid a fixed hire day by day, suffer a serious mechanical breakdown, the daily hire will no longer be payable by the charterer. The purpose of the loss of hire insurance is to secure the loss of hire during such periods.
We operate in international markets that are highly competitive. As a general matter, competition is based primarily on the supply and demand of commodities and the number of vessels operating at any given time. We compete for charters, in particular, on the basis of price and vessel location, size, age and condition, as well as the acceptability of the vessel’s operator to the charterer and on our reputation. We will arrange charters for our vessels typically through the use of brokers, who negotiate the terms of the charters based on market conditions. Competition arises primarily from other product tanker owners, including major oil companies as well as independent tanker companies, some of which have substantially greater financial and other resources than we do. Although we believe that no single competitor has a dominant position in the markets in which we compete, the trend towards consolidation in the industry is creating an increasing number of global enterprises capable of competing in multiple markets, which will likely result in greater competition to us. Our competitors may be better positioned to devote greater resources to the development, promotion and employment of their businesses than we are. Ownership of product tankers is highly fragmented and is divided among publicly listed companies, state-controlled owners and independent shipowners, some of which also have other types of tankers or vessels that carry diverse cargoes. Several of our U.S. publicly listed competitors include Scorpio Tankers Inc., Ardmore Shipping Corporation, International Seaways, Inc. and Top Ships Inc.
We market our vessels and related services to a broad range of customers, including international commodity trading companies and oil, gas, and large shipping companies.
Our significant customers that accounted for more than 10% of our revenues in 2020 and 2021 were as follows:
|Charterer||Year ended December 31,|
|Trafigura Maritime Logistics Pte. Ltd.||58||%||27||%|
|Clearlake Shipping Pte. Ltd.||16||%||17||%|
|Greenergy Fuels LTD||—||12||%|
In addition to these companies, we and our ship manager, Maritime, also have historical and growing chartering relationships with major integrated oil and international trading companies, including BP, Shell, Equinor, Total, Vitol, Clearlake (a subsidiary of Gunvor), ST Shipping (an affiliate of Glencore), Valero and their respective subsidiaries.
As of December 31, 2021, we had $0.7 million trade receivable outstanding related to our customers that accounted more than 10% of our revenues during 2021, of which $0.5 million has been subsequently collected as of March 31, 2022. We do not believe that we are dependent on any one of our key customers. In the event of a default of a charter by any of our key customers, we could seek to re-employ the vessel in the spot or time charter markets, although the rate could be lower than the charter rate agreed with the defaulting charterer.
Environmental, Social and Governance Practices
We are committed to implementing and monitoring Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices throughout our organization. Regarding these matters, the following summarizes our efforts which are evolving and should further develop over time.
We are primarily engaged in the global transportation of refined petroleum products. We recognize that greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, which are largely caused by consumption of fossil fuels, contribute to the warming of the climate. The shipping industry, which is heavily dependent on the burning of such fuels, faces the dual challenge of reducing its carbon footprint by transitioning to the use of low-carbon fuels while meeting demands throughout the global energy value chain. Our environmental initiates are:
● Executing on a fleet renewal program to purchase modern, more technologically advanced tankers that have enhanced the energy efficiency of our fleet, reduced fuel consumption and lower GHG emissions on a ton-mile basis as well as to sell older, less efficient, less environmentally -friendly vessels;
● Through our operations department, and with the assistance of our external manager, ITM, using vessel performance optimization software to monitor vessel operating performance and fuel consumption;
● At dry-dockings, selectively applying high specification hull coatings and, if design permit, installing various energy saving devices, such as, mews ducts, to improve vessel performance and reduce fuel consumption;
● Retrofitting the installation of BWTS on our vessels to comply with all applicable environmental regulations;
● Reducing sulphur emissions by following strategies to comply with the IMO fuel regulations which went into effect in January 2020;
● Implementing a third-party data collection and analysis platform to gather information from our vessels with the objective of reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and provide data to our customers and lenders, if requested;
● Complying with the EU’s requirements relating to any inventories of hazardous materials on board our vessels;
● Committing to practice environmentally and socially responsible ship recycling and to report any hazardous materials contained in a vessel’s structure and equipment as a signatory to the Maltese Ship Recycling Registration; and
● Maintaining operational excellence within our fleet to ensure continued compliance with all relevant regulatory environmental standards.
Given the history, varying cultures and nature of vessel operations, modern social practices within international shipping can be challenging. ITM is responsible for all the crews on our vessels. Our initiatives are as follows:
● Abiding by equal opportunity employer guidelines and promoting diversity in the workforce;
● Complying with the International Transport Workers’ Federation agreement which regulates the employment conditions for our seafarers;
● Monitoring ITM’s on-board crew health and safety management systems; and
● Volunteering with, and donating to, various local charities and causes.
Our Board of Directors, which includes three independent, experienced members from the shipping industry and maritime finance. Their experience with other publicly traded maritime companies has been beneficial to us. The Company’s management team, led by the Chief Executive Officer, has the day-to-day responsibility to execute appropriate action. Our governance initiates include:
● Maintaining a good corporate governance structure in accordance with the Republic of Marshall Islands and in compliance with Nasdaq for continued listing of our publicly-traded securities;
● Independent members of our Board of Directors chair various oversight committees;
● Adopting a comprehensive code of ethics program within the organization through our Code of Business Conduct & Ethics as well as Whistleblower Policy that provides ongoing support and controls; and
● Focusing on transparent reporting of sustainability, operating and financial performance.
International Product Tanker Shipping Industry
All the information and data contained in this section, including the analysis of relating to the international product tanker shipping industry, has been provided by Drewry Maritime Advisors (“Drewry”). Drewry has advised us that the statistical and graphical information contained in this section is drawn from its database and other sources. In connection therewith, Drewry has advised that: (i) certain information in its database is derived from estimates or subjective judgments, (ii) the information in the databases of other maritime data collection agencies may differ from the information in its database, and (iii) while Drewry has taken reasonable care in the compilation of the statistical and graphical information and believe it to be accurate and correct, data compilation is subject to limited audit and validation procedures. We believe that all third-party data provided in this section, “The International Product Tanker Shipping Industry,” is reliable.
The refined petroleum products (“Products”) tanker shipping industry has undergone some fundamental changes since 2003. From 2003 to 2008 seaborne trade in Products was spurred on by rising global oil demand and by changes in the location of refinery capacity. While in recent years, the development of shale oil reserves in the U.S. has helped to underpin the continued expansion in seaborne Products trades, with the U.S. becoming the world’s largest exporter of Products.
Overall, seaborne trade in Products grew by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.0% between 2012 and 2021, rising from 859 million tons to 943 million tons. The outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 severely affected demand of crude oil and Products as several major economies enforced lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the damage caused by the pandemic. Accordingly, the world seaborne tanker trade, including crude oil, oil products and chemicals fell 8.6% to 3,105 million tons in 2020. Crude oil trade declined 8.5% and oil products trade declined 10.1% during the same period. However, total world seaborne tanker trade grew slightly to 3,120 million tons in 2021 mainly due to a sharp recovery in global oil demand which increased 5.6 mbpd in 2021 fueled by robust economic growth, rising vaccination rates and higher mobility levels. Several countries authorized emergency use of various COVID-19 vaccines and a widespread availability of these vaccines has played a key role in containing the pandemic, which will support the seaborne trade and tanker demand. Global economic recovery coupled with the recent energy crisis, which started in October 2021, has provided the much-needed boost to oil demand. According to the latest report (March 2022) from IEA, global oil demand is expected to increase 2.1 mbpd (compared to 2021) to 99.7 mbpd in 2022. However, a surge in new COVID cases globally since November 2021 has slowed the recovery in global oil demand to some extent.
The Products Market
Future growth in seaborne product trades is dependent on a number of factors, not least of which will be prevailing trends in the global economy and in oil demand. However, it is apparent that seaborne trade will continue to be supported by the emergence of the U.S. as a major exporter of Products and the growth in refining capacity in countries such as China, India and the Middle East, which are heavily focused on servicing export markets.
The shift in the location of global oil production is also being accompanied by a shift in the location of global refinery capacity and throughput. In short, capacity and throughput are moving from the developed to the developing world. Between 2012 and 2021, the total OECD refining throughput declined at 0.8% CAGR to 34.3 mbpd, largely because of cutbacks in OECD Europe and OECD Americas. Refinery throughput of OECD countries declined 13.1% yoy to 33.1 mbpd in 2020 mainly because of the pandemic which hit global oil demand and higher inventory levels. In 2020, refining throughput of OECD countries accounted for 44.5% of global refinery throughput. After a record drop in 2020, OECD refinery runs gathered steam in 2021 with improvement in oil demand, but high crude oil prices led to drawdowns in the inventory of refined products, limiting the gains in refinery runs to some extent.
Nearly 610 kbpd of net refining capacity in the Middle East and another 130 kbpd in Asia are expected to be added in 2022 with nearly 70 kbpd of net refinery capacity in North America and Europe are expected to be phased out during the same year. As a result of these developments, countries such as India and Saudi Arabia have consolidated their positions as major exporters of products. The shift in refinery capacity is likely to continue as refinery development plans are heavily focused on areas such as Asia and the Middle East. From 2022 to 2026, the anticipated net additions to refinery capacity on a regional basis is 4.92 mbpd, or 4.8% of the global refinery capacity at the end of 2020. In 2022, 475 kbpd of refinery shut down is expected.
The Product Tanker Fleet
As of February 28, 2022, the worldwide product tanker fleet comprised of 3,002 vessels with a combined capacity of 164.2 million dwt including 1,615 MR2 vessels with 77.9 million dwt. Future supply will be affected by the size of the newbuilding orderbook. As of February 28, 2022, there were 164 product and product/chemical tankers on order, equivalent to 5.5% of the existing fleet by units and 6.3% of the existing fleet by dwt. The MR2 orderbook was equivalent to 7.4% of the existing MR2 fleet by units and 7.6% by dwt. The existing orderbook-to-fleet ratio for product tankers is substantially lower than ~25% in 2009 and ~15% in 2016. A total of 57 vessels (including 35 MR2) were ordered in 2021, of which only 4 vessels (including 2 MR2) will be scrubber-fitted ships. Only two MR2 were ordered in the first two months of 2022.
Based on the existing orderbook and scheduled deliveries as of February 28, 2022, nearly 4.8 million dwt is expected to be delivered in the next 10 months of 2022, 4.4 million dwt in 2023 and 1.1 million dwt in 2024 and beyond. 61 newbuild MR2 vessels with an aggregate capacity of 3.0 million dwt are expected to join the global product tanker fleet in the next 10 months of 2022. In recent years, however, the orderbook has been affected by the non-delivery of vessels (sometimes referred to as “slippage”), which in certain years has been as high as 35% of the scheduled deliveries. Some of this slippage resulted from delays, either through mutual agreement or through shipyard problems, while others were due to vessel cancellations. Slippage is likely to remain an issue going forward and, as such, it will have a moderating effect on product tanker fleet growth over the next two years. The spread of COVID-19 resulted in substantially higher slippage of MR2 vessels in 2020 at 12% (based on number of vessels) compared with 10.8% in 2019. Slippage increased to 14.1% in 2022 for MR2 vessels as shipowners postponed delivery due to softer product tanker charter market. For the period 2017-22, the average annual slippage rate was 13.4% for MR2 tankers.
Tanker supply is also affected by vessel scrapping or demolition and the removal of vessels through loss and conversion. As a product tanker ages, vessel owners often conclude that it is more economical to scrap the vessel that has exhausted its useful life than to upgrade it to maintain its “in-class” status. Often, particularly when tankers reach approximately 25 years of age (less in the case of larger vessels), the costs of conducting the class survey, performing required repairs and upgrades for environmental compliance become inefficient and potentially uneconomical. A spike in vessel earnings in Spring, 2020 compared to 2019 led to a decline in demolitions and 21 product tankers with an aggregate capacity of 876 thousand dwt were sent to the scrapyards. Demolition surged in 2021 with relatively weak crude and product tanker earnings with 70 product tankers aggregating 3.4 million dwt were sold to scrapyards (33 MR2 tankers totaling 1.5 million dwt). As of February 28, 2022, nine product tankers (seven MR2) with aggregate capacity of 397 thousand dwt (326 thousand dwt MR2) were scrapped in 2022. The average age of the global product and product/chemical fleet was 12.1 years as of February 28, 2022.
The age profile data indicates that the more sophisticated product/chemical fleet is generally younger than its straight product tanker counterpart. The average age of MR2 product tankers is 15.7 years whereas for MR2 product/chemical tankers, the average age is 9.9 years. As on February 28, 2022 the average age of global MR2 fleet was 12.8 years. Nearly 16.8% (16.4% capacity) of product tankers in the global MR2 fleet are over 20 years of age, and 3.9% (3.6% capacity) of product/chemical MR2’s are more than 20 years of age. In the current global product tanker fleet, 7.1% of the current MR2 fleet or 114 vessels are aged 20 years or more.
In 2020, the tanker market underwent an unprecedented turbulence due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The sudden demand destruction due to lockdown measures and limited availability of onshore storage led to a surge in demand for tankers for floating storage of crude oil as well as refined products. Accordingly, TCE rates of product tankers rallied across vessel classes in March and April 2020; for instance, average spot TCE rates for MR tankers shot up 131% from $19,289/day in February 2020 to $44,618 in April 2020. However, reduced crude oil production and refinery runs since May 2020 and gradual recovery in demand led to continuous decline in vessel earnings in the latter half of the year as several vessels locked-in for floating storage re-joined the trading fleet. As a result, in 2020 TCE spot voyage rates and one-year time charter rates for MR2 tankers averaged $18,551/day and $14,879/day, respectively. In 2021, freight rates declined on account of inventory de-stocking and more vessels joining the supply from floating storage.
The second-hand sale and purchase market has traditionally been relatively liquid, with tankers changing hands between owners on a regular basis. Second-hand prices peaked over the summer of 2008 and have since followed a similar path to both freight rates and newbuilding prices. Increase in newbuild prices in 2021 despite weak vessel earnings was fueled by the increased bargaining power of shipyards that have emerged as price setters with yards flushed with excess ordering, albeit from other shipping sectors, and are hence hard pressed for time for any new orders. Tanker shipowners are also willing to pay extra sums in anticipation of improved market at the time of delivery of the vessels. The uptrend in newbuild tanker prices coupled with higher demolition prices pushed up second-hand vessel prices. In February 2022, a five-year old MR2 product tanker was estimated to have a value of $30.0 million.
The recent and potentially ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is likely to underpin freight rates in the tanker market in the short term as it will lead to a shift in trade pattern boosting tonne-mile demand. However, in case Russia-Ukraine war persists for long, any possible disruption to crude supply from Russia is expected to hurt global crude oil trade and charter rates in crude tanker market considering the global dependence on Russian oil.
Traditionally, fossil fuel-based energy sources such as oil, natural gas and coal have propelled the global economy, but their share has been declining over the past few years from 86.9% in 2011 to 84.3% in 2019 with the share of oil remaining stagnant at around 33% during this period. However, the energy transition from fossil fuel-based energy to renewable sources of energy is currently underway which has received a boost from the accelerated sales of electric vehicles (“EVs”), even though their share in total sales was a meagre 2.5% in 2019. As the cost of EVs becomes competitive against internal combustion engine vehicles, and charging infrastructure is developed across the world, sales of EVs are expected to gain momentum, reducing the demand for gasoline and diesel in the long run. Increasing focus on decarbonization will also impact the global oil demand going forward. The demand for naphtha and jet fuel is likely to remain robust and will be the key driver of global trade in crude and refined petroleum products.
Ballast Water Management Convention
All deep-sea vessels engaged in international trade are required to have ballast water treatment system before September 8, 2024. The second regulation, which came into force on January 1, 2020, and impacted vessel supply particularly in 2020, is the drive to introduce low sulfur fuels. For many years, heavy fuel oil (“HFO”) has been the main fuel of the shipping industry. It is relatively inexpensive and widely available, but it is ‘dirty’ from an environmental point of view.
IMO 2020 Regulation on Low Sulfur Fuel
The IMO has been devising strategies to reduce greenhouse gases (“GHG”) and carbon emissions from ships. According to the announcement in 2018, the IMO plans to initiate measures to reduce CO2 emissions intensity by at least 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050 from the levels in 2008. It also plans to introduce measures to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2050 from the 2008 levels.
In June 2021, the IMO adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships that will require vessels to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These amendments are a combination of technical and operational measures and are expected to come into force on November 1, 2022, with the requirements for Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (“EEXI”) and Carbon Intensity Indicator (“CII”) certification, effective January 1, 2023.
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 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, the International Convention for the SOLAS Convention, and 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 drybulk, 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 emissions standards, titled IMO-2020, took effect on January 1, 2020.
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. We believe that all our vessels are currently compliant in all material respects with these regulations.
The 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 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 were adopted and took effect 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 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 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 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. For the moment, this regulation relates to new building vessels and has no retroactive application to existing fleet. 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 (“SEEMPS”), 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 adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI which brings forward the effective date of the EEDI’s “phase 3” requirements from January 1, 2025 to April 1, 2022 for several ship types, including gas carriers, general cargo ships, and LNG carriers.
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 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 draft amendments requiring that, on or before January 1, 2023, all ships above 400 gross tonnage 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 held in 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. MEPC 77 adopted a nonbinding 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.
We may incur costs to comply with these revised standards. 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.
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 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 we and our technical management team 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. We have obtained applicable documents of compliance for our offices and safety management certificates for all of our vessels for which the certificates are required by the IMO. The documents of compliance and safety management certificates 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.
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. By IMO resolution, administrations are encouraged to ensure that cyber-risk management systems must be incorporated by ship-owners and managers by 2021. 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 future regulations is hard to predict at this time. The impact of such regulations is hard 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 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. Costs of compliance with these regulations may be substantial. 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 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. Irrespective of the BWM convention, certain countries such as the U.S. have enforced and implemented regional requirement related to the system certification, operation and reporting.
The IMO adopted the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969, as amended by different Protocols in 1976, 1984, and 1992, and amended in 2000 (“the CLC”). Under the CLC and depending on whether the country in which the damage results is a party to the 1992 Protocol to the CLC, a vessel’s registered owner may be strictly liable for pollution damage caused in the territorial waters of a contracting state by discharge of persistent oil, subject to certain exceptions. The 1992 Protocol changed certain limits on liability expressed using the International Monetary Fund currency unit, the Special Drawing Rights. The limits on liability have since been amended so that the compensation limits on liability were raised. The right to limit liability is forfeited under the CLC where the spill is caused by the shipowner’s actual fault and under the 1992 Protocol where the spill is caused by the shipowner’s intentional or reckless act or omission where the shipowner knew pollution damage would probably result. The CLC requires ships over 2,000 tons covered by it to maintain insurance covering the liability of the owner in a sum equivalent to an owner’s liability for a single incident. We have protection and indemnity insurance for environmental incidents. P&I Clubs in the International Group issue the required Bunkers Convention “Blue Cards” to enable signatory states to issue certificates. All of our vessels are in possession of a CLC State issued certificate attesting that the required insurance coverage is in force.
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 CLC 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, or 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.
In November 2020, MEPC 75 approved draft amendments to the Anti-fouling Convention to prohibit anti-fouling systems containing cybutryne, which would apply to ships from January 1, 2023, or, for ships already bearing such an anti-fouling system, at the next scheduled renewal of the system after that date, but no later than 60 months following the last application to the ship of such a system. In addition, the International Anti-fouling System (IAFS) Certificate has been updated to address compliance options for anti-fouling systems to address cybutryne. Ships which are affected by this ban on cybutryne must receive an updated IAFS Certificate no later than two years after the entry into force of these amendments. Ships which are not affected (i.e. with anti-fouling systems which do not contain cybutryne) must receive an updated IAFS Certificate at the next Anti-fouling application to the vessel. These amendments were formally adopted at MEPC 76 in June 2021. Our fleet already complies with this regulation.
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 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 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;|
|(iv)||loss of subsistence use of natural resources that are injured, destroyed or lost;|
|(iii)||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 a tank vessel, other than a single-hull tank vessel, over 3,000 gross tons liability to the greater of $2,300 per gross ton or $19,943,400 (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. Subsequently, current U.S. President Biden signed an executive order temporarily blocking new leases for oil and gas drilling in federal waters. However, attorney generals from 13 states filed suit 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 $1.0 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, results of operation and financial condition.
Other United States Environmental Initiatives
The CAA requires the EPA to promulgate standards applicable to emissions of volatile organic compounds and other air contaminants. Our vessels are subject to vapor control and recovery requirements for certain cargoes when loading, unloading, ballasting, cleaning and conducting other operations in regulated port areas. The CAA also requires states to draft State Implementation Plans, or SIPs, designed to attain national health-based air quality standards in each state. Although state-specific, SIPs may include regulations concerning emissions resulting from vessel loading and unloading operations by requiring the installation of vapor control equipment. Our vessels operating in such regulated port areas with restricted cargoes are equipped with vapor recovery systems that satisfy these existing requirements.
The 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”). 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 is 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 VIDA, which was signed into law on December 4, 2018 and replaces the 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 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 the 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 starting on January 1, 2018, 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, these proposed regulations may not enter into force for another year or two.
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 (“GHG”) 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 GHG emissions though 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 GHG 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, former U.S. President Trump announced that the United States intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and that 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 GHG emissions from ships was approved. In accordance with this roadmap, in April 2018, nations at the MEPC 72 adopted an initial strategy to reduce GHG emissions from ships. The initial strategy identifies “levels of ambition” to reducing GHG 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.
The EU made a unilateral commitment to reduce overall GHG 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 GHG emissions from the maritime sector in the European Union’s carbon market are also forthcoming.
In the United States, the EPA issued a finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public health and safety, adopted regulations to limit GHG emissions from certain mobile sources, and proposed regulations to limit GHG emissions from large stationary sources. However, in March 2017, former U.S. President Trump signed an executive order to review and possibly eliminate the EPA’s plan to cut GHG emissions, and in August 2019, the Administration announced plans to weaken regulations for methane emissions. On August 13, 2020, the EPA released rules rolling back standards to control methane and volatile organic compound emissions from new oil and gas facilities. However, U.S. President Biden recently directed the EPA to publish a proposed rule suspending, revising, or rescinding certain of these rules. The EPA or individual U.S. states could enact environmental regulations that would affect our operations.
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, Arabian Sea area and West Africa 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 BMP5 industry standard.
Inspection by Flag administration and 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, 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., DNV and NKK).
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 business, results of operations and financial condition.
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.
Hull and Machinery Insurance
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. We generally do not maintain insurance against loss of hire (except for certain charters for which we consider it appropriate), which covers business interruptions that result in the loss of use of a vessel.
Protection and Indemnity Insurance
Protection and indemnity insurance is provided by mutual protection and indemnity associations, or 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, or “clubs.”
Our current protection and indemnity insurance coverage for pollution is $1 billion per vessel per incident. The 13 P&I Associations that comprise the International Group insure approximately 90% of the world’s commercial tonnage and have entered into a pooling agreement to reinsure each association’s liabilities. The International Group’s website states that the Pool provides a mechanism for sharing all claims in excess of US$ 10 million up to, currently, approximately US$ 8.9 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.
Under Marshall Islands law, there are currently no restrictions on the export or import of capital, including foreign exchange controls or restrictions that affect the remittance of dividends, interest or other payments to non-resident holders of shares of our common stock.
C. Organizational Structure
We were incorporated under the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands on March 23, 2015. As of March 31, 2022, we own the vessels in our fleet through five separate wholly-owned subsidiaries that are incorporated in the Republic of Marshall Islands and the Republic of Malta.
The following is a list of our subsidiaries:
|Name of Company||Country of Incorporation||Principal Activities||Ownership|
|SECONDONE CORPORATION LTD*||Malta||Non-operating subsidiary||100||%|
|THIRDONE CORPORATION LTD.*||Malta||Non-operating subsidiary||100||%|
|FOURTHONE CORPORATION LTD.||Malta||Ship ownership and operations||100||%|
|SIXTHONE CORP. *||Marshall Islands||Non-operating subsidiary||100||%|
|SEVENTHONE CORP.||Marshall Islands||Ship ownership and operations||100||%|
|EIGHTHONE CORP.||Marshall Islands||Ship ownership and operations||100||%|
|TENTHONE CORP.||Marsahll Islands||Ship ownership and operations||100||%|
|ELEVENTHONE CORP.||Marhsall Islands||Ship ownership and operations||100||%|
|MARITIME TECHNOLOGIES CORP.||Delaware||Non-operating subsidiary||100||%|
* “Pyxis Delta”, “Northsea Alpha” and “Northsea Beta” were sold to unaffiliated third parties on January 13, 2020, January 28, 2022 and March 1, 2022, respectively.
D. Property, Plants and Equipment
Other than our vessels, we do not own any material property. Maritime, our affiliated ship management company, provides office space to us in part of Maritime’s offices in Maroussi, Greece in connection with the administrative services provided to us under the terms of the Head Management Agreement.
ITEM 4A. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 5. OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS
The spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, in March 2020 has caused substantial disruptions in the global economy and the shipping industry, as well as significant volatility in the financial markets, the severity and duration of which remains uncertain.
In response to the pandemic, we have instituted enhanced safety protocols such as regular disinfection of our on-shore facilities, regular employee COVID-19 testing, digital temperature reading facilities, limitation of on-site visitors and travel, mandatory self-isolation of personnel returning from travel and replacing physical meetings with virtual meetings. We expect to continue such measures, which have not had a significant impact on our expenses, to some degree until the pandemic abates. In addition, the prevailing low interest rates have been at low levels in part due to actions taken by central banks to stimulate economic activity in the face of the pandemic.
During the year ended December 31, 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic mainly contributed to lower charter activity which affected the entire industry and resulted in lower profitability and greater losses, higher crewing costs due to increased precautionary measures and more expensive dry-dockings. We do not expect significant future increases in the Company’s crewing costs and further, we expect this impact to be occasional and costs to be normalized in the next periods.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold and may continue to have negative effect on the Company’s business, financial performance and the results of its operations, including due to decreased demand for global seaborne refined petroleum products trade and related charter rates, the extent of which will depend largely on future developments. In light of COVID-19, the Company, as of December 31, 2021, evaluated whether there are conditions or events that cause substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern. The Company reviewed its revenue concentration risk, the recoverability of its accounts receivable (i.e. credit risk) and tested its assets for potential impairment. As a result of this evaluation it has been determined that the only material impact of COVID-19 to the Company has been lower charter activity which has affected the entire industry and resulted in lower profitability and greater losses as well as in higher crewing and dry-docking costs. In addition, many of the Company’s estimates and assumptions, especially charter rates, require increased judgment and carry a higher degree of variability and volatility. As events continue to evolve and additional information becomes available, the Company’s estimates may change in future periods.
More recently, the Russian- Ukrainian war has created further uncertainty for the global economic outlook, especially for the Europe, which could affect the demand for refined petroleum products. The price of crude oil and bunker fuel has increased significantly due to geo-political events, leading to added inflationary pressures. In addition, certain officers on our vessels are Russian and Ukrainian nationals whose continued employment with ITM may be in question, and potentially impact the operation of our vessels. To date, no disruption to our operations has occurred. Consequently, our voyage and vessel operating costs could rise materially and negatively impact our profitability. See “Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors – 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”.
In order to accomplish certain operating, strategic and financial objectives, we started an effort a period of years ago to develop a long-term solution for the small tankers, which were non-core assets. That effort culminated in the sale of the “Northsea Alpha” and “Northsea Beta” in January and March, 2022. Effective March 1, 2022, our fleet consisted of five MR’s, the same class of product tankers.
This section is a discussion of our financial condition and results of operations as of and for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2021. You should read the following discussion and analysis together with our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report. This discussion includes forward-looking statements which are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or conditions to differ materially from those currently anticipated, expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. For a discussion of some of those risks and uncertainties, please read the section entitled “Forward-Looking Statements” and “Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors.”
Important Financial and Operational Terms
We use a variety of financial and operational terms and concepts. These include the following:
Voyage Revenues, net
We generate revenues by chartering our vessels for the transportation of petroleum products and other liquid bulk items, such as organic chemicals and vegetable oils. Revenues are generated primarily by the number of vessels in our fleet, the number of voyage days employed and the amount of daily charter hire earned under vessels’ charters. These factors, in turn, can be affected by a number of decisions by us, including the amount of time spent positioning a vessel for charter, dry-dockings, repairs, maintenance and upgrading, as well as the age, condition and specifications of our ships and supply and demand factors in the product tanker market. At December 31, 2021, we employed two of our vessels on time charters, four vessels in our fleet employed in the spot market while one vessel was under scheduled special survey. Revenues from time charter agreements providing for varying daily rates are accounted as operating leases and thus are recognized on a straight line basis over the term of the time charter as service is performed. Revenue under spot charters is recognized from loading of the current spot charter to discharge of the current spot charter as discussed below. Vessels operating on time charters provide more predictable cash flows but can yield lower profit margins than vessels operating in the spot market during periods characterized by favorable market conditions. The vessel owner generally pays commissions on both types of charters on the gross charter rate.
As of January 1, 2018, we adopted Accounting Standard Update (“ASU”) 2014-09 “Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606)”. The core principle is that a company should recognize revenue when promised goods or services are transferred to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which an entity expects to be entitled for those goods or services. We analyzed our contacts with charterers at the adoption date and have determined that our spot charters fall under the provisions of ASC 606, while our time charter agreements are lease agreements that fall under the provisions of ASC 842 and that contain certain non-lease components.
We elected to adopt ASC 606 by applying the modified retrospective transition method, recognizing the cumulative effect of adopting this guidance as an adjustment to the 2018 opening balance of accumulated deficit. As of December 31, 2017, there were no vessels employed under spot charters and as a result, we have not included any adjustments to the 2018 opening balance of accumulated deficit and prior periods were not retrospectively adjusted.
We assessed our contracts with charterers for spot charters and concluded that there is one single performance obligation for each of our spot charters, which is to provide the charterer with a transportation service within a specified time period. In addition, we have concluded that spot charters meet the criteria to recognize revenue over time as the charterer simultaneously receives and consumes the benefits of our performance. The adoption of this standard resulted in a change whereby our method of revenue recognition changed from discharge-to-discharge (assuming a new charter has been agreed before the completion of the previous spot charter) to load-to-discharge. This resulted in no revenue being recognized from discharge of the prior spot charter to loading of the current spot charter and all revenue being recognized from loading of the current spot charter to discharge of the current spot charter. This change results in revenue being recognized later in the voyage, which may cause additional volatility in revenues and earnings between periods. Demurrage income represents payments by a charterer to a vessel owner when loading or discharging time exceeds the stipulated time in the spot charter. We have determined that demurrage represents a variable consideration and we estimate demurrage at contract inception. Demurrage income estimated, net of address commission, is recognized over the time of the charter as the performance obligation is satisfied.
Under a spot charter, we incur and pay for certain voyage expenses, primarily consisting of brokerage commissions, port and canal costs and bunker consumption, during the spot charter (load-to-discharge) and during the ballast voyage (date of previous discharge to loading, assuming a new charter has been agreed before the completion of the previous spot charter). Before the adoption of ASC 606, all voyage expenses were expensed as incurred, except for brokerage commissions. Brokerage commissions are deferred and amortized over the related voyage period in a charter to the extent revenue has been deferred since commissions are earned as revenues are earned. Under ASC 606 and after implementation of ASC 340-40 “Other assets and deferred costs” for contract costs, incremental costs of obtaining a contract with a customer and contract fulfillment costs, should be capitalized and amortized as the performance obligation is satisfied, if certain criteria are met. We assessed the new guidance and concluded that voyage costs during the ballast voyage represented costs to fulfil a contract which give rise to an asset and should be capitalized and amortized over the spot charter, consistent with the recognition of voyage revenues from spot charter from load-to-discharge, while voyage costs incurred during the spot charter should be expensed as incurred. With respect to incremental costs, we have selected to adopt the practical expedient in the guidance and any costs to obtain a contract will be expensed as incurred (for our spot charters that do not exceed one year). Vessel operating expenses are expensed as incurred.
In addition, pursuant to this standard, and the Leases standard discussed below, as of January 1, 2018, we elected to present Revenues, net of address commissions. Address commissions represent a discount provided directly to the charterers based on a fixed percentage of the agreed upon charter. Since address commissions represent a discount (sales incentive) on services rendered by us and no identifiable benefit is received in exchange for the c