SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
the fiscal year ended
Date of event requiring this shell company report
For the transition period from _____________ to ______________
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)
Republic of the
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
c/o Star Bulk Management Inc.,
(Address of principal executive offices)
c/o Star Bulk Management Inc.,
(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 exchange on which registered|
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report:
As of December 31, 2021, there werecommon shares issued and outstanding.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
YES ☐ ☒
If this report is an annual report 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.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
☒ NO ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
☒ NO ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer, "accelerated filer,” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Accelerated Filer ☐||Non- accelerated Filer ☐||Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark 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
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 ☐
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
(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
Star Bulk Carriers Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiaries (the “Company”) desire to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and are including this cautionary statement in connection with this safe harbor legislation. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides safe harbor protections for forward-looking statements in order to encourage companies to provide prospective information about their business. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, and underlying assumptions and other statements, which are other than statements of historical facts.
This document includes “forward-looking statements,” as defined by U.S. federal securities laws, with respect to our financial condition, results of operations and business and our expectations or beliefs concerning future events. Words such as, but not limited to, “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “targets,” “projects,” “likely,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “may,” “forecasts,” “potential,” “continue,” “possible” and similar expressions or phrases may identify forward-looking statements.
All forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. The occurrence of the events described, and the achievement of the expected results, depend on many events, some or all of which are not predictable or within our control. Actual results may differ materially from expected results.
In addition, important factors that, in our view, could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include:
|·||general dry bulk shipping market conditions, including fluctuations in charter rates and vessel values;|
|·||the strength of world economies;|
|·||the stability of Europe and the Euro;|
|·||fluctuations in currencies, interest rates and foreign exchange rates, and the impact of the discontinuance of the London Interbank Offered Rate for US Dollars, or LIBOR, after June 30, 2023 on any of our debt referencing LIBOR in the interest rate;|
|·||business disruptions due to natural and other disasters or otherwise, such as the ongoing novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic;|
|·||the length and severity of epidemics and pandemics, including COVID-19 and its impact on the demand for seaborne transportation in the dry bulk sector;|
|·||changes in supply and demand in the dry bulk shipping industry, including the market for our vessels and the number of newbuildings under construction;|
|·||the potential for technological innovation in the sector in which we operate and any corresponding reduction in the value of our vessels or the charter income derived therefrom;|
|·||changes in our operating expenses, including bunker prices, dry docking, crewing and insurance costs;|
|·||changes in governmental rules and regulations or actions taken by regulatory authorities;|
|·||potential liability from pending or future litigation and potential costs due to environmental damage and vessel collisions;|
|·||the impact of increasing scrutiny and changing expectations from investors, lenders, charterers and other market participants with respect to our Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG") practices;|
|·||our ability to carry out our ESG initiatives and thereby meet our ESG goals and targets including as set forth under Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Our ESG Performance;|
|·||new environmental regulations and restrictions, whether at a global level stipulated by the International Maritime Organization, and/or regional/national imposed by regional authorities such as the European Union or individual countries;|
|·||potential cyber-attacks which may disrupt our business operations;|
|·||general domestic and international political conditions or events, including “trade wars” and the recent conflicts between Russia and Ukraine;|
|·||the impact on our common shares and reputation if our vessels were to call on ports located in countries that are subject to restrictions imposed by the U.S. or other governments;|
|·||our ability to successfully compete for, enter into and deliver our vessels under time charters or other employment arrangements for our existing vessels after our current charters expire and our ability to earn income in the spot market;|
|·||potential physical disruption of shipping routes due to accidents, climate-related reasons (acute and chronic), political events, public health threats, international hostilities and instability, piracy or acts by terrorists;|
|·||the availability of financing and refinancing;|
|·||the failure of our contract counterparties to meet their obligations;|
|·||our ability to meet requirements for additional capital and financing to grow our business;|
|·||the impact of our indebtedness and the compliance with the covenants included in our debt agreements;|
|·||vessel breakdowns and instances of off-hire;|
|·||potential exposure or loss from investment in derivative instruments;|
|·||potential conflicts of interest involving our Chief Executive Officer, his family and other members of our senior management;|
|·||our ability to complete acquisition transactions as and when planned and upon the expected terms;|
|·||the impact of port or canal congestion or disruptions; and|
|·||other important factors described in “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” in this annual report.|
We have based these statements on assumptions and analyses formed by applying our experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions, expected future developments and other factors we believe are appropriate in the circumstances. All future written and verbal forward-looking statements attributable to us or any person acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained or referred to in this section. We undertake no obligation, and specifically decline any obligation, except as required by law, to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events discussed in this annual report might not occur.
See the section entitled “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” of this annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2021 for a more complete discussion of these risks and uncertainties and for other risks and uncertainties. These factors and the other risk factors described in this annual report are not necessarily all of the important factors that could cause actual results or developments to differ materially from those expressed in any of our forward-looking statements. Other unknown or unpredictable factors also could harm our results. Consequently, there can be no assurance that actual results or developments anticipated by us will be realized or, even if substantially realized, that they will have the expected consequences to, or effects on, us. Given these uncertainties, prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|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||17|
|Item 4A.||Unresolved Staff Comments||44|
|Item 5.||Operating and Financial Review and Prospects||44|
|Item 6.||Directors, Senior Management and Employees||70|
|Item 7.||Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions||78|
|Item 8.||Financial Information||92|
|Item 9.||The Offer and Listing||93|
|Item 10.||Additional Information||94|
|Item 11.||Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk||105|
|Item 12.||Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities||107|
|Item 13.||Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies||108|
|Item 14.||Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds||108|
|Item 15.||Controls and Procedures||108|
|Item 16A.||Audit Committee Financial Expert||109|
|Item 16B.||Code of Ethics||109|
|Item 16C.||Principal Accountant Fees and Services||109|
|Item 16D.||Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees||110|
|Item 16E.||Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers||110|
|Item 16F.||Change in Registrants Certifying Accountant||111|
|Item 16G.||Corporate Governance||111|
|Item 16H.||Mine Safety Disclosure||111|
|Item 17.||Financial Statements||112|
|Item 18.||Financial Statements||112|
|Item 1.||Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers|
|Item 2.||Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable|
|Item 3.||Key Information|
Throughout this annual report, the terms “Company,” “Star Bulk,” “we,” “us” and “our” all refer to Star Bulk Carriers Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiaries. We use the term deadweight ton (“dwt”) in describing the size of vessels. Dwt, expressed in metric tons, each of which is equivalent to 1,000 kilograms, refers to the maximum weight of cargo and supplies that a vessel can carry. We own and operate dry bulk vessels of seven sizes:
|1.||Newcastlemax, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 200,000 dwt and 210,000 dwt;|
|2.||Capesize, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 100,000 dwt and 200,000 dwt;|
|3.||Post Panamax, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 90,000 dwt and 100,000 dwt;|
|4.||Kamsarmax, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 80,000 dwt and 90,000 dwt;|
|5.||Panamax, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 65,000 and 80,000 dwt;|
|6.||Ultramax, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 60,000 and 65,000 dwt; and|
|7.||Supramax, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 50,000 and 60,000 dwt.|
Unless otherwise indicated, all references to “Dollars” and “$” in this annual report are to U.S. Dollars and all references to “Euro” and “€” in this annual report are to Euros.
We are a global shipping company providing worldwide seaborne transportation solutions in the dry bulk sector. Our vessels transport major bulks, which include iron ore, coal and grain and minor bulks which include bauxite, fertilizers and steel products. We were incorporated in the Marshall Islands on December 13, 2006 and maintain offices in Athens, Oslo, New York, Limassol, Singapore and Germany. Our common shares trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “SBLK.” We have a fleet of 128 vessels, with an aggregate capacity of 14.1 million dwt, consisting of Newcastlemax, Capesize, Post Panamax, Kamsarmax, Panamax, Ultramax and Supramax vessels with carrying capacities between 52,425 dwt and 209,529 dwt.
Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., together with its affiliates (“Oaktree”) is our largest shareholder. Oaktree is a leader among global investment managers specializing in alternative investments, with $ 166 billion in assets under management as of December 2021. The firm emphasizes an opportunistic, value-oriented and risk-controlled approach to investments in distressed debt, corporate debt (including high yield debt and senior loans), control investing, convertible securities, real estate and listed equities. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the firm has over 1000 employees and offices in 19 cities worldwide. See “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions” for a discussion on the various limitations on the transfer and voting of our common shares by Oaktree.
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk factors
The following risks relate principally to the industry in which we operate and our business in general. Other risks relate principally to the securities market and ownership of our common shares. The occurrence of any of the events described in this section could significantly and negatively affect our business, financial condition, operating results or the trading price of our common shares.
Risks Related to Our Industry
Charter rates for dry bulk vessels are volatile and may decrease in the future, which may adversely affect our earnings and our ability to comply with our loan covenants.
The dry bulk shipping industry continues to be cyclical with high volatility in charter rates and profitability among the various types of dry bulk vessels. In 2021, charter rates for dry bulk vessels increased significantly from lower levels that prevailed during previous years. The Baltic Dry Index, or the “BDI”, an index published by The Baltic Exchange of shipping rates for key dry bulk routes, declined in 2020, principally as a result of the global economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, strong global growth and increased infrastructure spending has led to a rise in demand for commodities, which combined with a historically low orderbook and port delays and congestion, resulted in an increase in BDI in 2021. See “Item 4. Information on the Company- Business Overview - The International Dry Bulk Shipping Industry” for further details.
Charter rate fluctuations result from changes in the supply of and demand for vessel capacity and major commodities carried on water internationally. Because most factors affecting the supply of and demand for vessels are outside of our control and are unpredictable, the nature, timing, direction and degree of changes in charter rates are also unpredictable. Since we charter our vessels principally in the spot market, we are exposed to the spot market’s cyclicality and volatility. Factors that influence the demand for dry bulk vessel capacity include: supply of and demand for energy resources, commodities, and semi-finished consumer and industrial products and the location of consumption versus the location of their regional and global exploration, production or manufacturing facilities; the globalization of production and manufacturing; global and regional economic and political conditions and developments, including armed conflicts and terrorist activities; natural disasters and weather; pandemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic; embargoes and strikes; disruptions and developments in international trade, including trade disputes or the imposition of tariffs on various commodities or finished goods; changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns, including the distance cargo is transported by sea; environmental and other legal regulatory developments; and currency exchange rates. Factors that influence the supply of dry bulk vessel capacity include: the number of newbuilding orders and deliveries including slippage in deliveries; number of shipyards and ability of shipyards to deliver vessels; port and canal congestion; speed of vessel operation; vessel casualties; the degree of recycling of older vessels, depending, among other things, on recycling rates and international recycling regulations; number of vessels that are out of service, namely those that are laid-up, dry docked, awaiting repairs or otherwise not available for hire; availability of financing for new vessels and shipping activity; changes in national or international regulations that may effectively cause reductions in the carrying capacity of vessels or early obsolescence of tonnage; and changes in environmental and other regulations that may limit the useful lives of vessels. In addition to the prevailing and anticipated freight rates, factors that affect the rate of newbuilding, scrapping and laying-up include newbuilding prices, secondhand vessel values in relation to scrap prices, costs of bunkers and other operating costs, costs associated with classification society surveys, normal maintenance costs, insurance coverage costs, the efficiency and age profile of the existing dry bulk fleet in the market, and government and industry regulation of maritime transportation practices, particularly environmental protection laws and regulations.
As described above, many of the factors influencing the supply of and demand for shipping capacity are outside of our control, and we may not be able to correctly assess the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions. If we are required to charter our vessels at a time when demand and charter rates are very low, we may not be able to secure employment for our vessels at all, or we may have to accept reduced and potentially unprofitable rates. If we are unable to secure profitable employment for our vessels, we may decide to lay-up some or all unemployed vessels until such time that charter rates become attractive again. During the lay-up period, we will continue to incur some expenditures, such as insurance and maintenance costs, for each such vessel. Additionally, before exiting lay-up, we will have to pay reactivation costs for any such vessel to regain its operational condition. As a result, adverse economic, political, social or other developments could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and cash flows, ability to pay dividends and compliance with covenants in our credit facilities.
Our financial results and operations may be adversely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and related governmental responses thereto.
Since the beginning of calendar year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in numerous actions taken by governments and governmental agencies in an attempt to mitigate the spread or any resurgence of the virus, including travel bans, quarantines, and other emergency public health measures such as lockdown measures. These measures resulted in a significant reduction in global economic activity and extreme volatility in the global financial markets. While many of these measures have since been relaxed, we cannot predict whether and to what degree such measures will be reinstituted in the event of any resurgence in the COVID-19 virus or any variants thereof. 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 COVID-19. Our crews face risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a result of travel to ports where COVID-19 cases have been reported. Our shore-based personnel likewise face risk of such exposure, as we maintain offices in areas impacted by the spread of COVID-19.
Measures against COVID-19 in a number of countries have restricted crew rotations on our vessels, which may continue or become more severe. As a result, in 2020 and 2021, we experienced and may continue to experience disruptions to our normal vessel operations caused by increased deviation time associated with positioning our vessels to countries in which we can undertake a crew rotation in compliance with such measures. Delays in crew rotations have led to issues with crew fatigue and may continue to do so, which may result in delays or other operational issues. We have had and may continue to have increased expenses due to incremental fuel consumption and days in which our vessels are unable to earn revenue in order to deviate to certain ports on which we would ordinarily not call during a typical voyage. We may also incur additional expenses associated with testing, personal protective equipment, quarantines, and travel expenses such as airfare costs in order to perform crew rotations in the current environment. In 2020 and 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. The ability and willingness to consummate vessel transactions has been limited as a result of general economic conditions, the availability of financing, and their ability to inspect vessels. The impact of COVID-19 has also resulted in periodic reduction of industrial activity globally with temporary closures of factories and other facilities, labor shortages and restrictions on travel on a regional basis, depending on the spread of COVID-19 in each particular geography. We believe these disruptions along with other seasonal factors, including lower demand for some of the cargoes we carry such as iron ore and coal, contributed to lower dry bulk rates in 2020. This and future epidemics may affect personnel operating payment systems through which we receive revenues from the chartering of our vessels or pay for our expenses, resulting in delays in payments. We continue to focus on our employees’ well-being, whilst making sure that their 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 recurrence 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.
Global economic conditions may continue to negatively impact the dry bulk shipping industry.
The world economy is currently facing a number of ongoing challenges as a result of the economic impact of and global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as recent turmoil and hostilities in various regions, including Syria, Iraq, North Korea, Venezuela, North Africa and Ukraine. The weakness in the global economy has caused, and may continue to cause, a decrease in worldwide demand for certain goods and, thus, shipping.
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. Our vessels Star Pavlina, Star Helena and Star Laura are currently berthed in three different ports of Ukraine, evacuated from crew who have safely exited Ukraine. All three vessels, under charterers’ instructions, had arrived to load various grain cargos, well ahead of the commencement of the war activities, but at the time of the invasion, the loading operations were suspended by the port authorities. The Company had been intensively exploring options with the charterers to navigate the vessels safely out of the ports but unfortunately the ports were shut down and safe passages were impossible. The Company has deployed security personnel to board the vessels for protection until such time that other crew may board again and have the vessels sail away to safer seas. In addition to standard industry vessel risk insurance, war risk insurance is in place for all three vessels and war risk insurers have confirmed that they hold the vessels covered at their current position in Ukraine which includes Hull and Machinery and Increased Value insurance and War loss of Hire for 180 days. The Company believes that the vessels remain on hire and hire continues payable under the relevant charter party clauses.
The U.K. formally exited the EU on January 31, 2020 (informally known as “Brexit). On December 24, 2020, the U.K. and EU entered into a trade and cooperation agreement (the “Trade and Cooperation Agreement”), which was entered into force on May 1, 2021 following ratification by the EU. Brexit has led to ongoing political and economic uncertainty and periods of increased volatility in both the U.K. and in wider European markets for some time. Brexit’s long-term effects will depend on the effects of the implementation and application of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and any other relevant agreements between the U.K. and EU. Brexit has also given rise to calls of other EU member states’ governments to consider withdrawal. These developments and uncertainties, or the perception that they may occur, have had and may continue to have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets, and may significantly reduce global market liquidity and restrict the ability of key market participants to operate in certain financial markets. Additionally, Brexit or similar events in other jurisdictions, could impact global markets, including foreign exchange and securities markets. The foregoing factors could depress economic activity and restrict our access to capital, causing a material adverse effect on our business and on our consolidated financial position, results of operations and our ability to pay distributions.
The U.S. government has recently made statements and taken certain actions that may lead to potential changes to U.S. and international trade policies, including recently-imposed tariffs affecting certain Chinese industries. It is unknown whether and to what extent new tariffs (or other new laws or regulations) will be adopted, or the effect that any such actions would have on us or our industry. If any new tariffs, legislation and/or regulations are implemented, or if existing trade agreements are renegotiated or, in particular, if the U.S. government takes retaliatory trade actions due to the recent U.S.-China trade tension, such changes could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Economic slowdown in the Asia Pacific region, particularly in China, may have a materially adverse effect on us, as we anticipate a significant number of the port calls made by our vessels will continue to involve the loading or discharging of dry bulk commodities in ports in the Asia Pacific region. We conduct a substantial portion of our business in China or with Chinese counter parties. Changes in the economic conditions of China, and policies adopted by the government to regulate its economy, including with regards to tax matters and environmental concerns (such as achieving carbon neutrality), and their implementation by local authorities could affect our vessels that are either chartered to Chinese customers or that call to Chinese ports, our vessels that undergo dry docking at Chinese shipyards and the financial institutions with whom we have entered into financing agreements, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
While global economic conditions have generally improved, relatively weak global economic conditions have had and may continue to have a number of adverse consequences for dry bulk and other shipping sectors, including, among other things; low charter rates, particularly for vessels employed on short-term time charters or in the spot market; decreases in the market value of dry bulk vessels and limited secondhand market for the sale of vessels; 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 and financial condition.
A decline in the market values of our vessels could limit the amount of funds that we can borrow, cause us to breach certain financial covenants in our credit facilities, result in impairment charges or losses on sale.
The fair market values of dry bulk vessels have generally experienced high volatility. The fair market value of our vessels depends on a number of factors, including: prevailing level of charter rates, general economic and market conditions affecting the shipping industry, types, sizes and ages of vessels, supply of and demand for vessels, other modes of transportation, distressed asset sales, including newbuilding contract sales below acquisition costs due to lack of financing, cost of newbuildings, governmental or other regulations, the need to upgrade vessels as a result of charterer requirements, technological advances in vessel design or equipment or otherwise, changes in environmental and other regulations that may limit the useful life of vessels, technological advances; and competition from other shipping companies and other modes of transportation. If the fair market value of our vessels declines, we might not be in compliance with various covenants in our ship financing facilities, some of which require the maintenance of a certain percentage of fair market value of the vessels securing the facility to the principal outstanding amount of the loans under the facility or a maximum ratio of total liabilities to market value adjusted total assets or a minimum market value adjusted net worth. In addition, if the fair market value of our vessels declines, our access to additional funds may be affected or we may need to record impairment charges in our consolidated financial statements or incur loss on sale of vessels which can adversely affect our financial results. Conversely, if vessel values are elevated at a time when we wish to acquire additional vessels, the cost of such acquisitions may increase and this could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flow and financial condition.
We are subject to complex laws and regulations, including environmental regulations, international safety regulations and vessel requirements imposed by classification societies that can adversely affect the cost, manner or feasibility of doing business.
Our operations are subject to numerous international, national, state and local laws, regulations, treaties and conventions in force in international waters and the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate or are registered, which can significantly affect the ownership and operation of our vessels. See “Information on the Company – Business Overview - Environmental and Other Regulations in the Shipping Industry” for further details. Compliance with such requirements may require vessels to be altered, costly equipment to be installed (such as ballast water treatment systems or “BWTS”) or operational changes to be implemented and may decrease the resale value or reduce the useful lives of our vessels or require us to obtain certain permits or authorizations prior to commencing operations. Such compliance costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. If any vessel does not comply (i.e. fails to maintain its class or fails any annual, intermediate or special survey) the vessel will be unable to trade between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable until such failures are remedied, which could negatively impact our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, given frequent regulatory changes, we cannot predict their effect on our ability to do business, the cost of complying with them, or their impact on vessels’ useful lives or resale value. Our failure to comply with any such conventions, laws, or regulations could cause us to incur substantial liability.
Increasing scrutiny and changing expectations from investors, lenders, charterers and other market participants with respect to our ESG practices 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 from investor advocacy groups, certain institutional investors, lenders, charterers and other market participants (collectively, the
“Market Participants”), who, in recent years, have focused on the implications and social cost of their investments. Such increased attention and activism related to ESG and similar matters (such as climate change) may hinder access to capital, as the Market Participants may decide to reallocate capital or to not commit capital as a result of their assessment of a company’s ESG practices, and may also affect the commercial tradability of our vessels should our vessels not comply with charterers’ ESG requirements. For example, due to such increasing pressures from the Market Participants to prioritize sustainable energy practices, reduce our carbon footprint, and promote sustainability, we may be required to implement more stringent ESG procedures or standards so that our existing and future Market Participants remain invested in us, make further investments in us and continue chartering our vessels. However, if we do not adapt to or comply with such evolving expectations and standards, or 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, we may suffer from reputational damage and our business, financial condition, and/or stock price could be materially and adversely affected. Furthermore, certain Market Participants in the equity and debt capital markets may exclude transportation companies, such as us, from their investing portfolios altogether due to ESG factors, which may affect our ability to grow, as our plans for growth may include accessing the foregoing 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. Overall, 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. Please See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Our ESG Performance” for additional information with respect to our ongoing ESG efforts.
Increased inspection procedures, tighter import and export controls and new security regulations could increase costs and cause disruption of our business.
International shipping is subject to security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin, destination and trans-shipment points. Under the U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (the “MTSA”), the United States Coast Guard (“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. These security procedures can result in the seizure of contents of our vessels, delays in the loading, offloading, trans-shipment or delivery and the levying of customs duties, fines or other penalties against us. 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. These additional costs could reduce the volume of goods shipped, resulting in a decreased demand for vessels and have a negative effect on our business, financial condition, cash flows, results of operations and our ability to pay dividends.
The operation of dry bulk carriers entails certain operational risks that could affect our earnings and cash flow.
The international shipping industry faces inherent risks involving global operations. Our vessels and their cargoes risk damage or loss as a result of events including, but not limited to, marine disasters, bad weather, mechanical failures, human error, environmental accidents, war, terrorism, piracy and other circumstances or events. In addition, transporting cargoes across a wide variety of international jurisdictions creates a risk of business interruptions due to political circumstances in foreign countries, hostilities, labor strikes and boycotts, the potential for changes in tax rates or policies, and the potential for government expropriation of our vessels. Any of these events may result in loss of revenues, increased costs and decreased cash flows to our customers, which could impair their ability to make payments to us under our charters. Furthermore, the operation of dry bulk carriers has certain unique risks as: (i) dry bulk cargo itself and its interaction with the vessel can be an operational risk, (ii) dry bulk cargoes are often heavy, dense and easily shifted and react badly to water exposure, and (iii) dry bulk carriers are often subjected to battering treatment during unloading operations with grabs, jackhammers (to pry encrusted cargoes out of the hold) and small bulldozers, causing damage to the vessel. Vessels damaged due to treatment during unloading procedures may be more susceptible to breach at sea. Hull breaches in dry bulk carriers may lead to the flooding of the vessels’ holds. If flooding occurs in the forward holds, the bulk cargo may become so waterlogged that the bulkhead may buckle under the resulting pressure, leading to loss of a vessel. If we are unable to adequately maintain our vessels, we may be unable to prevent these events. If our vessels suffer damage, they may need to be repaired at a drydocking facility for substantial and unpredictable costs that may not be fully covered by insurance. Space at drydocking facilities is sometimes limited, and not all drydocking facilities are conveniently located. The total loss or damage of any of our vessels or cargoes could harm our reputation as a safe and reliable vessel owner and operator. Any of these circumstances or events may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.
If our vessels call on ports or territories located in countries that are subject to restrictions, sanctions, or embargoes imposed by the United States government, the EU, the UN, or other governments, it could lead to monetary fines or other penalties and adversely affect our reputation and the price for our common shares.
Although we do not expect our vessels to call on ports located in countries or territories subject to country or territory-wide sanctions or embargoes imposed by the United States, European Union, United Nations, or other governments and authorities, in violation of applicable laws, it is possible that, without our consent, our vessels may call on ports located in such countries or territories in the future in violation of applicable law. The applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations vary in their application, as they do not all apply to the same covered persons or proscribe the same activities, and such sanctions and embargo laws and regulations may be amended or expanded over time.
We endeavor to take precautions to ensure that our customers are prohibited from entering any countries or conducting any trade which will breach U.S. government, EU, UN or any applicable sanctions regulation However, on such customers’ instructions, and without our consent, there is a risk that our vessels may call on ports in countries or territories that violate such sanctions or embargoes. Any violation of sanctions or embargo laws and regulations could result in fines or other penalties and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us. Additionally, some investors may decide to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us simply because our vessels called a sanctionable area, even if that call would not breach any applicable sanctions regulation, or we do business with companies that do business in sanctioned countries. 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. War, terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in these and surrounding countries may adversely affect investor perception of the value of our common stock.
Fuel, or bunker, prices and marine fuel availability may adversely affect our profits.
Since we expect to primarily employ our vessels in the spot market, we expect that vessel fuel, known as bunkers, will be one of the largest single expense items in our shipping operations for our vessels. Changes in fuel prices may adversely affect our profitability. The price and supply of fuel are unpredictable and fluctuate based on events outside our control, including geopolitical developments (such as the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine), supply and demand for oil and gas, actions by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil and gas producers, war and unrest in oil producing countries and regions, regional production patterns and environmental concerns. Further, fuel may become much more expensive in the future, which may reduce our profitability and competitiveness of our business versus other forms of transportation, such as truck or rail. Lastly, if sulfur emissions regulations are relaxed in the future, or if the cost differential between low sulfur fuel and high sulfur fuel is lower than anticipated, we may not realize the economic benefits or recover the cost of the Scrubber Retrofitting Program, as further defined below under “Item 4. Information on the Company - B. Business Overview – Our Fleet.” As a result, we may experience a material, adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations due to any of the foregoing changes.
The smuggling of drugs or other contraband onto our vessels may lead to governmental claims against us.
Our vessels may call in ports where smugglers attempt to hide drugs and other contraband on vessels, with or without the knowledge of crew members. To the extent our vessels are found with contraband, whether inside or attached to the hull of our vessel and whether with or without the knowledge of any of our crew, we may face governmental or other regulatory claims or restrictions which could have an adverse effect on our reputation, business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Maritime claimants could arrest one or more of our vessels, which could interrupt our cash flow.
Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers of cargo and other parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against a vessel for unsatisfied debts, claims or damages. In many jurisdictions, a claimant may seek to obtain security for its claim by arresting a vessel through foreclosure proceedings. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels could interrupt our cash flow and require us to pay large sums of money to have the arrest or attachment lifted. In addition, in some jurisdictions, such as South Africa, under the “sister ship” theory of liability, a claimant may arrest both the vessel which is subject to the claimant’s maritime lien and any “associated” vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner. Claimants could attempt to assert “sister ship” liability against one vessel in our fleet for claims relating to another of our vessels.
Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency, resulting in a loss of earnings.
A government could requisition one or more of our vessels for title or for hire. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes its owner, while requisition for hire occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and effectively becomes its charterer at dictated charter rates. Generally, requisitions occur during periods of war or emergency, although governments may elect to requisition vessels in other circumstances. Although we would be entitled to compensation in the event of a requisition of one or more of our vessels, the amount and timing of payment would be uncertain. Government requisition of one or more of our vessels may negatively impact our revenues.
Failure to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”) and other anti-corruption laws could result in fines, criminal penalties, charter terminations and an adverse effect on our business.
We may operate in a number of countries throughout the world, including countries known to have a reputation for corruption. We are committed to doing business in accordance with applicable anti-corruption laws, including the FCPA. We are subject, however, to the risk that we, our affiliated entities or respective officers, directors, employees and agents may take actions determined to be in violation of such anti-corruption laws. Any such violation could result in substantial fines, sanctions, civil and/or criminal penalties and curtailment of operations in certain jurisdictions, and might adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition. In addition, actual or alleged violations could damage our reputation and ability to do business. Furthermore, detecting, investigating, and resolving actual or alleged violations is expensive and time- and attention-consuming for our senior management.
Because we generate all of our revenues in U.S. dollars but incur a portion of our expenses in other currencies, exchange rate fluctuations could have an adverse impact on our results of operations.
We generate all of our revenues in U.S. dollars, and the majority of our expenses are denominated in U.S. dollars. However, a portion of our ship operating and administrative expenses are denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars. If our expenditures on such costs and fees were significant, and the U.S. dollar were weak against such currencies, our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends could be adversely affected.
Our operating results are subject to seasonal fluctuations.
We operate our vessels in markets that have historically exhibited seasonal variations in demand and, as a result, in charter rates. This seasonality may result in volatility in our operating results to the extent that we enter into new charter agreements or renew existing agreements during a time when charter rates are weaker or we operate our vessels on the spot market or index based time charters, which may result in quarter-to-quarter volatility in our operating results. The dry bulk sector is typically stronger during the second half of the year in anticipation of increased consumption of coal and other raw materials in the northern hemisphere. In addition, unpredictable weather patterns in these months tend to disrupt vessel scheduling and supplies of certain commodities. Since we charter our vessels principally in the spot market, our revenues from our dry bulk carriers may be weaker during the fiscal quarters ended March 31 and June 30, and stronger during the fiscal quarters ended September 30 and December 31.
Risks Related to Our Company
We may face liquidity issues if conditions in the dry bulk market worsen for a prolonged period and failure to comply with the terms of our debt agreements could adversely affect our business
If the dry bulk shipping market declines over a prolonged period of time, we may have insufficient liquidity to fund ongoing operations or satisfy our obligations under our credit facilities, which may lead to a default under one or more of our credit facilities. In addition, our outstanding debt agreements impose on us certain operating and financial restrictions and require us or our subsidiaries to maintain various financial ratios. See “Item 5 Operating and Financial Review and Prospects - Liquidity and Capital Resources - Senior Secured Credit Facilities - Credit Facility Covenants” for further details. Therefore, we may need to seek permission from our lenders in order to engage in certain corporate actions, which permission we may be unable to obtain. This may prevent us from taking actions that are in our best interest and from executing our business strategy and may limit our ability to pay dividends and finance our future operations. Further, a breach of any of the covenants in, or our inability to maintain the required financial ratios under, our debt agreements could result in a default thereunder. If a default occurs under our credit facilities, the lenders could elect to declare the outstanding debt, together with accrued interest and other fees, to be immediately due and payable and foreclose on the collateral securing that debt, which could constitute all or substantially all of our assets (considering the cross default provisions included in our debt agreements), which would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Volatility in the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”), the cessation of LIBOR and replacement of our interest rate in our debt agreements could affect our earnings and cash flow.
Our indebtedness accrues interest based on LIBOR, 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 debt agreements we enter into will not use LIBOR as an interest rate, and we will need to transition our existing loan agreements from U.S. Dollar LIBOR to an alternative reference rate prior to June 2023. In response to the anticipated discontinuation of LIBOR, working groups are converging on alternative reference rates. The Alternative Reference Rate Committee, a committee convened by the Federal Reserve that includes major market participants, has proposed an alternative rate to replace U.S. Dollar LIBOR: the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or “SOFR.” At this time, it is not possible to predict how markets will respond to SOFR or other alternative reference rates. The impact of such a transition from LIBOR to SOFR or another alternative reference rate could be significant for us. In order to manage our exposure to interest rate fluctuations under LIBOR, SOFR or any other alternative rate, we have and may from time to time use interest rate derivatives to effectively fix some of our floating rate debt obligations. No assurance can however be given that the use of these derivative instruments, if any, may effectively protect us from adverse interest rate movements. The use of interest rate derivatives may affect our results through mark to market valuation of these derivatives. Also, adverse movements in interest rate derivatives may require us to post cash as collateral, which may impact our free cash position. Interest rate derivatives may also be impacted by the transition from LIBOR to SOFR.
We rely on our information systems to conduct our business, and failure to protect these systems against security breaches could adversely affect our business.
The safety and security of our vessels and efficient operation of our business, including processing, transmitting and storing electronic and financial information, depends on computer hardware and software systems, which are increasingly vulnerable to security breaches and other disruptions. Our vessels rely on information systems for a significant part of their operations, including navigation, provision of services, propulsion, machinery management, power control, communications and cargo management. We have in place safety and security measures on our vessels and onshore operations to secure our vessels against cyber-security attacks and any disruption to their information systems. However, these measures and technology may not adequately prevent security breaches despite our continuous efforts to upgrade and address the latest known threats, which are constantly evolving and have become increasing sophisticated. If these threats are not recognized or detected until they have been launched, we may be unable to anticipate these threats and may not become aware in a timely manner of such a security breach, which could
exacerbate any damage we experience. A disruption to the information system of any of our vessels could lead to, among other things, incorrect routing, collision, grounding and propulsion failure. Beyond our vessels, we rely on industry accepted security measures and technology to securely maintain confidential and proprietary information maintained on our information systems. However, these measures and technology may not adequately prevent security breaches. In addition, the foregoing events could result in violations of applicable privacy and other laws. If confidential information is inappropriately accessed and used by a third party or an employee for illegal purposes, we may be responsible to the affected individuals for any losses they may have incurred as a result of misappropriation. In such an instance, we may also be subject to regulatory action, investigation or liable to a governmental authority for fines or penalties associated with a lapse in the integrity and security of our information systems.
We may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to protect against and remedy any potential or existing security breaches and their consequences. A cyber-attack could also lead to litigation, fines, other remedial action, heightened regulatory scrutiny and diminished customer confidence. In addition, our remediation efforts may not be successful, and we may not have adequate insurance to cover these losses. The unavailability of the information systems or the failure of these systems to perform as anticipated for any reason could disrupt our business and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition. Moreover, cyber-attacks against the Ukrainian government and other countries in the region have been reported in connection with the recent conflicts between Russia and Ukraine. To the extent such attacks have collateral effects on global critical infrastructure or financial institutions or us, such developments could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition. At this time, it is difficult to assess the likelihood of such threat and any potential impact at this time.
We are subject to certain risks with respect to our counterparties on contracts.
We have entered into, and may enter in the future into, various contracts, including charter parties and contracts of affreightment with our customers, newbuilding contracts with shipyards, credit facilities with our lenders and operating leases as charterers. These agreements subject us to counterparty risks. The ability of each of our counterparties to perform its obligations under a contract with us will depend on a number of factors that are beyond our control and may include, among other things, general economic conditions, the condition of the maritime industry, the overall financial condition of the counterparty, charter rates received for specific types of vessels, and various expenses. Should our counterparties fail to honor their obligations under agreements with us, we could sustain significant losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
In November of 2019, we established a new dividend policy, which was updated in May 2021, but we may be unable to pay dividends in the future.
Under the terms of a number of our outstanding financing arrangements, we are subject to various restrictions on our ability to pay dividends. Our financing arrangements prevent us from paying dividends if an event of default exists under our credit facilities or if certain financial ratios are not met. See “Item 5 Operating and Financial Review and Prospects - Liquidity and Capital Resources - Senior Secured Credit Facilities - Credit Facility Covenants” for further details. In general, when dividends are paid, they are distributed from our operating surplus, in amounts that allow us to retain a portion of our cash flows to fund vessel or fleet acquisitions and for debt repayment and other corporate purposes, as determined by our management and board of directors (“Board of Directors”). In addition, the declaration and payment of dividends will be subject at all times to the discretion of our Board of Directors. The timing and amount of dividends will depend on our earnings, financial condition, cash requirements and availability, fleet renewal and expansion, restrictions in our loan agreements, if any, the provisions of Marshall Islands law affecting the payment of dividends and other factors. The laws of the Republic of Marshall Islands generally prohibit the payment of dividends other than from surplus (retained earnings and the excess of consideration received for the sale of shares above the par value of the shares) or while a company is insolvent or would be rendered insolvent by the payment of such a dividend. We may not have sufficient surplus in the future to pay dividends and our subsidiaries may not have sufficient funds or surplus to make distributions to us. We can give no assurance that dividends will be paid at any level or at all.
We may not have adequate insurance to compensate us if we lose our vessels or to compensate third parties.
In the event of a casualty to a vessel or other catastrophic event, we rely on our insurance to pay the insured value of the vessel or the damages incurred. Through our management agreements with our technical managers, we procure insurance for the vessels in our fleet against those risks that we believe the shipping industry commonly insures against. This insurance includes marine hull and machinery insurance, protection insurance and indemnity insurance, which include pollution risks and crew insurances, and war risk insurance. Currently, the amount of coverage for liability for pollution, spillage and leakage available to us on commercially reasonable terms through protection and indemnity associations and providers of excess coverage is $1.0 billion per vessel per occurrence. We may not be adequately insured against all risks. We may not be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage for our fleet in the future, and we may not be able to obtain certain insurance coverages. The insurers may not pay particular claims. Our insurance policies may contain deductibles for which we will be responsible and limitations and exclusions which may increase our costs or lower our revenue. Moreover, insurers may default on claims they are required to pay. In addition, we may be subject to increased premium payments, or calls, in amounts based on our claim records and the claim records of our fleet managers as well as the claim records of other members of the protection and indemnity associations (P&I Associations) through which we receive insurance coverage for tort liability, including pollution-related liability. Our payment of these calls and any significant loss or liability for which we are not insured could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
We depend upon third party and/or affiliated managers to provide the technical management of our fleet.
We have contracted the technical management of certain portion of our fleet, including crewing, maintenance, and repair services, to third party and/or affiliated technical management companies. The failure of these technical managers to perform their obligations could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends. Although we may have rights against our third party and/or affiliated managers if they default on their obligations to us, our shareholders will share that recourse only indirectly to the extent that we recover funds.
The aging of our fleet and our practice of purchasing and operating secondhand vessels may result in increased operating costs and vessels off-hire, which could adversely affect our earnings.
Our current business strategy includes additional growth which may, in addition to the acquisition of newbuilding vessels, include the acquisition of modern secondhand vessels. While we expect that we would typically inspect secondhand vessels prior to acquisition, this does not provide us with the same knowledge about their condition that we would have had if these vessels had been built for and operated exclusively by us. Generally, we, as a purchaser of secondhand vessels will not receive the benefit of warranties from the builders for the secondhand vessels that we acquire. In addition, unforeseen maintenance, repairs, special surveys or dry docking may be necessary for acquired secondhand vessels, which could also increase our costs and reduce our ability to employ the vessel to generate revenue. In general, the cost of maintaining a vessel in good operating condition increases with the age of the vessel. As our vessels age, they will typically become less fuel-efficient and more costly to maintain 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 and safety or other equipment standards related to the age of vessels may also require expenditures for alterations or the addition of new equipment to our vessels and may restrict the type of activities in which our vessels may engage. As our vessels age, market conditions may not justify those expenditures or may not enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of their useful lives. In addition, if new dry bulk carriers are built that are more efficient or more flexible or have longer physical lives than our vessels, competition from these more technologically advanced vessels could adversely affect the amount of charter hire payments we receive for our vessels once their initial charters expire and the resale value of our vessels could significantly decrease.
We may be subject to litigation that, if not resolved in our favor and not sufficiently insured against, could have a material adverse effect on us.
We may be, from time to time, involved in various litigation matters. These matters may include, among other things, contract disputes, shareholder litigation, personal injury claims, environmental claims or proceedings, asbestos and other toxic tort claims, property casualty claims, employment matters, governmental claims for taxes or
duties, and other litigation that arises in the ordinary course of our business. Although we intend to defend these matters vigorously, we cannot predict with certainty the outcome or effect of any claim or other litigation matter, and the ultimate outcome of any litigation or the potential costs to resolve them may have a material adverse effect on us. Insurance may not be applicable or sufficient in all cases and/or insurers may not remain solvent which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.
We may have difficulty managing our planned growth properly.
Historically, we have grown through acquisitions and building newbuilding vessels. One of our strategies is to continue expanding our operations and fleet. Our future growth will primarily depend upon a number of factors, some of which may not be within our control, including our ability to: identify suitable dry bulk carriers, including newbuilding slots at shipyards and/or shipping companies for acquisitions at attractive prices; obtain required financing for our existing and new operations; identify businesses engaged in managing, operating or owning dry bulk carriers for acquisitions or joint ventures; integrate any acquired dry bulk carriers or businesses successfully with our existing operations, including obtaining any approvals and qualifications necessary to operate vessels that we acquire, hire, train and retain qualified personnel and crew to manage and operate our growing business and fleet; identify new markets; enhance our customer base; and improve our operating, financial and accounting systems and controls. Our failure to effectively identify, acquire, develop and integrate any dry bulk carriers or businesses could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. The number of employees that perform services for us and our current operating and financial systems may not be adequate as we implement our plan to expand our fleet size in the dry bulk sector, and we may not be able to effectively hire more employees or adequately improve those systems. In addition, our growth through acquisitions and investments bears inherent risks including: the possibility that we may not receive a favorable return on our investments or that we may incur losses therefrom, or the original investment may become impaired; failure to satisfy or set effective strategic objectives; our assumption of known or unknown liabilities or other unanticipated events or circumstances, the diversion of management’s attention from normal daily operations of the business; difficulties in integrating the operations, technologies, products and personnel of an acquired company or its assets; difficulties in supporting acquired operations, difficulties or delays in the transfer of vessels, equipment or personnel; failure to retain key personnel, unexpected capital equipment outlays and related expenses; insufficient revenues to offset increased expenses associated with acquisitions; under-performance problems with acquired assets or operations, issuance of common shares that could dilute our current shareholders; recording of goodwill and non-amortizable intangible assets that will be subject to periodic impairment testing and potential impairment charges against our future earnings; the opportunity cost associated with committing capital in such investments; undisclosed defects, damage, maintenance requirements or similar matters relating to acquired vessels; and becoming subject to litigation.
We may not be able to address these risks successfully without substantial expense, delay or other operational or financial issues. Any delays or other such operations or financial issues could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations. We cannot give any assurance that we will be successful in executing our growth plans, obtain appropriate financings on a timely basis or on terms we deem reasonable or acceptable or that we will not incur significant expenses and losses in connection with our future growth.
A change in tax laws, treaties or regulations, or their interpretation could result in a significant negative impact on our earnings and cash flows from operations.
We are an international company that conducts business throughout the world. Tax laws and regulations are highly complex and subject to interpretation. Consequently, a change in tax laws, treaties or regulations, or in the interpretation thereof, or in and between countries in which we operate, could result in a materially high tax expense or higher effective tax rate on our worldwide earnings, and such change could be significant to our financial results. If any tax authority successfully challenges our operational structure, intercompany pricing policies or the taxable presence of our key subsidiaries in certain countries, or if the terms of certain income tax treaties are interpreted in a manner that is adverse to our structure, or if we lose a material tax dispute in any country, our effective tax rate on our worldwide earnings from our operations could increase substantially and our earnings and cash flows from these operations could be materially adversely affected. We and our subsidiaries may be subject to taxation in the jurisdictions in which we and our subsidiaries conduct business. Such taxation would result in decreased earnings. Investors are encouraged to consult their own tax advisors concerning the overall tax consequences of the ownership of our common shares arising in an investor’s particular situation under U.S. federal, state, local and foreign law.
The Internal Revenue Service could treat us as a “passive foreign investment company,” (or “PFIC”) which could have adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. shareholders.
As further described under “Item 10. Additional Information – E. Taxation - U.S. Federal Income Taxation of U.S. Holders” we believe that we currently are not a PFIC, and we do not expect to become a PFIC in the future. However, there is no direct legal authority under the PFIC rules addressing our characterization of income from our voyage and time chartering activities nor our characterization of contracts for newbuilding vessels, if any. Moreover, the determination of PFIC status for any year can only be made on an annual basis after the end of such taxable year and will depend on the composition of our income, assets and operations from time to time. Because of the above described uncertainties, there can be no assurance that the Internal Revenue Service will not challenge the determination made by us concerning our PFIC status or that we will not be a PFIC for any taxable year. If we were classified as a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. shareholder owns common shares (regardless of whether we continue to be a PFIC), the U.S. shareholder would be subject to special adverse rules, including taxation at maximum ordinary income rates plus an interest charge on both gains on sale and certain dividends, unless the U.S. shareholder makes an election to be taxed under an alternative regime. Certain elections may be available to U.S. shareholders if we were classified as a PFIC.
Risks Related to Our Relationships with Mr. Pappas, Oaktree and Other Parties
Affiliates of Oaktree own a significant portion of our common shares, subject to certain restrictions on voting, acquisitions and dispositions thereof.
As of February 16, 2022, Oaktree and its affiliates beneficially own 26,021,457 common shares, representing approximately 25.4% of our outstanding common shares. However, pursuant to the Oaktree Shareholders Agreement, Oaktree and certain affiliates thereof have agreed to voting restrictions, ownership limitations and standstill restrictions. See “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions - Oaktree Shareholders Agreement” for further details. Despite the foregoing limitations, Oaktree and its affiliates are able to exert considerable influence over us. Oaktree and its affiliates may be able to prevent or delay a change of control of us and could preclude any unsolicited acquisition of us. The concentration of ownership and voting power in Oaktree may make some transactions more difficult or impossible without Oaktree’s support, even if such events are in the best interests of our other shareholders and/or may have an adverse effect on the price of our common shares. As a result of such influence, we may take actions that our other shareholders do not view as beneficial, which may adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition and cause the value of your investment to decline. Additionally, Oaktree is in the business of making investments in companies and currently holds and may from time to time in the future acquire, interests in the shipping industry that directly or indirectly compete with certain portions of our business. If Oaktree pursues acquisitions or makes further investments in the shipping industry, those acquisitions and investment opportunities may not be available to us, and we have agreed to renounce any interest or expectancy in, or in being offered an opportunity to participate in, any corporate opportunities that may be presented to or become known to Oaktree or any of its affiliates. In addition, the members of the Board of Directors nominated by Oaktree will have fiduciary duties to us and in addition may have duties to Oaktree. As a result, such circumstances may entail real or apparent conflicts of interest with respect to matters affecting both us and Oaktree, whose interests, in some circumstances, may be adverse to ours.
Members of management and our directors may have relationships and affiliations with other entities that could create conflicts of interest.
While we do not expect our Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Petros Pappas, will have any material relationships with any companies in the dry bulk shipping industry other than us, he will continue to be involved in other areas of the shipping industry, which could cause conflicts of interest not in the best interest of us or our shareholders. This could result in an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. We use our best efforts to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in addressing such conflicts of interest. In addition, our executive officers participate in business activities not associated with us, including serving as members of the management teams of Oceanbulk Maritime S.A, a dry cargo shipping company, and PST Tankers LLC, a joint venture between Oaktree and entities controlled by Mr. Pappas’ family involved in the product tanker businesses, and are not required to work full-time on our affairs. Initially, we expect that each of our executive officers will devote a substantial portion of his/her business time to the management of our Company.
Our executive officers may devote less time to us than if they were not engaged in other business activities and may owe fiduciary duties to the shareholders of other companies with which they may be affiliated, including those companies listed above. Three of our directors are affiliated with Oaktree. Our Oaktree-affiliated directors have fiduciary duties to us and to Oaktree. In addition, under the Oaktree Shareholders Agreements, none of our officers or directors who is also an officer, director, employee or other affiliate of Oaktree or an officer, director or employee of an affiliate of Oaktree will be liable to us or our shareholders for breach of any fiduciary duty by reason of the fact that any such individual directs a corporate opportunity to Oaktree or its affiliates instead of us, or does not communicate information regarding a corporate opportunity to us that such person or affiliate has directed to Oaktree or its affiliates. As a result, such circumstances may entail real or apparent conflicts of interest with respect to matters affecting both us and Oaktree, whose interests, in some circumstances, may be adverse to ours. In addition, as a result of Oaktree’s ownership interest, conflicts of interest could arise with respect to transactions involving business dealings between us and Oaktree or their affiliates, including potential business transactions, potential acquisitions of businesses or properties, the issuance of additional securities, the payment of dividends by us and other matters. This structure 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, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We may be unable to attract and retain qualified, skilled employees or crew necessary to operate our business.
Our success depends in large part on our ability to attract and retain highly skilled and qualified personnel, both shoreside personnel and crew. In crewing our vessels, we require technically skilled employees with specialized training who can perform physically demanding work. Competition to attract and retain qualified crew members and shoreside personnel is intense due to the increase in the size of the global shipping fleet. In addition, if we are not able to obtain higher charter rates to compensate for any crew cost and salary increases, or if we cannot hire, train and retain a sufficient number of qualified employees, we may be unable to manage, maintain and grow our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Our reliance upon “foreign private issuer” exemptions may afford less protection to holders of our common shares.
Nasdaq’s corporate governance rules require, subject to exceptions, listed companies to have, among other things, a majority of their board members be independent and independent director oversight of executive compensation, nomination of directors and corporate governance matters. As a “foreign private issuer” (as defined in Rule 3b-4 of the Exchange Act), or FPI, we may follow the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, our home country, with respect to the foregoing requirements. For example, although our Board of Directors currently includes nine members who would likely be deemed independent under the Nasdaq rules, we may in the future have less than a majority of directors who would be deemed independent, as permitted under Marshall Islands law. In addition, as a FPI we are not required to comply with all of the periodic disclosure and current reporting requirements of the Exchange Act applicable to U.S. domestic companies whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act.
Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure and Our Common Shares
We are a holding company and depend on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute funds to us in order to satisfy our financial obligations and to make dividend payments.
We are a holding company, and our subsidiaries conduct all of our operations and own all of our operating assets. We have no significant assets other than the equity interests in our subsidiaries. Our ability to satisfy our financial obligations and to make dividend payments in the future depends on our subsidiaries and their ability to distribute funds to us. If we are unable to obtain funds from our subsidiaries, our Board of Directors may exercise its discretion not to declare or pay dividends. We do not intend to obtain funds from other sources to pay dividends. Furthermore, certain of our outstanding financing arrangements restrict the ability of some of our subsidiaries to pay us dividends under certain circumstances, such as if an event of default exists.
We may need to raise additional capital in the future, which may not be available on favorable terms or at all or which may dilute our common stock or adversely affect its market price.
We may require additional capital to expand our business and increase revenues, add liquidity in response to negative economic conditions, meet unexpected liquidity needs, and reduce our outstanding debt. To the extent our existing capital and borrowing capabilities are insufficient, we will need to raise additional funds through debt or equity financings, including offerings of our common stock, securities convertible into our common stock, or rights to acquire our common stock or curtail our growth and reduce our assets or restructure arrangements with existing security holders. Any equity or debt financing, or additional borrowings, if available at all, may be on terms that are not favorable to us. Equity financings could result in dilution to our stockholders, and the securities issued in future financings may have rights, preferences, and privileges that are senior to those of our common stock. To the extent that an existing shareholder does not purchase shares of voting stock, that shareholder’s interest in our Company will be diluted, representing a smaller percentage of the vote in our Board of Directors’ elections and other shareholder decisions. If our need for capital arises because of significant losses, the occurrence of these losses may make it more difficult for us to raise the necessary capital. If we cannot raise funds on acceptable terms if and when needed, we may not be able to take advantage of future opportunities, grow our business or respond to competitive pressures or unanticipated requirements.
Because we are organized under the laws of the Marshall Islands and because substantially all of our assets are located outside of the United States, it may be difficult to serve us with legal process or enforce judgments against us, our directors or our management.
We are organized under the laws of the Marshall Islands and substantially all of our assets are located outside of the United States. In addition, the majority of our directors and officers are or will be non-residents of the United States and all or a substantial portion of the assets of these non-residents are located outside of the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an action against us or against our directors and officers in the United States if you believe that your rights have been infringed under securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Marshall Islands and of other jurisdictions may prevent or restrict you from enforcing a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors or officers.
We are incorporated in the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of corporate law.
Our corporate affairs are governed by our Fourth Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation (the “Articles of Incorporation”) and our Third Amended and Restated Bylaws (the “Bylaws”) and by the Marshall Islands Business Corporations Act (the “MIBCA”). The provisions of the MIBCA resemble provisions of the corporation laws of a number of states in the United States. However, there have been few judicial cases in the Marshall Islands interpreting the MIBCA. The rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under the laws 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 the United States. The rights of shareholders of companies incorporated in the Marshall Islands may differ from the rights of shareholders of companies incorporated in the United States. While the MIBCA provides that it is to be interpreted according to the laws of the State of Delaware and other states with substantially similar legislative provisions, there have been few, if any, court cases interpreting the MIBCA in the Marshall Islands and we cannot predict whether Marshall Islands courts would reach the same conclusions as United States courts. Thus, you may have more difficulty in protecting your interests in the face of actions by the management, directors or controlling shareholders than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a United States jurisdiction that has developed a relatively more substantial body of case law. 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 shareholders and creditors may experience delays in their ability to recover their claims after any such insolvency or bankruptcy.
The international nature of our operations may make the outcome of any bankruptcy proceedings difficult to predict.
We are incorporated under the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and certain of our subsidiaries are also incorporated under the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Liberia, British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Malta, Singapore and Germany, and we conduct operations in countries around the world.
The Marshall Islands has passed an act implementing the U.N. Commission on Internal Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency, or the Model Law. The adoption of the Model Law is intended to implement effective mechanisms for dealing with issues related to cross-border insolvency proceedings and encourages cooperation and coordination between jurisdictions. Notably, the Model Law does not alter the substantive insolvency laws of any jurisdiction and does not create a bankruptcy code in the Marshall Islands. Instead, the Act allows for the recognition by the Marshall Islands of foreign insolvency proceedings, the provision of foreign creditors with access to courts in the Marshall Islands, and the cooperation with foreign courts. Consequently, in the event of any bankruptcy, insolvency or similar proceedings involving us or one of our subsidiaries, bankruptcy laws other than those of the United States could apply. We have limited operations in the United States. If we become a debtor under the United States bankruptcy laws, 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 United States bankruptcy court would be entitled to, or accept, jurisdiction over such bankruptcy case or that courts in other countries that have jurisdiction over us and our operations would recognize a United States bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction if any other bankruptcy court would determine it had jurisdiction.
Future sales of our common shares could cause the market price of our common shares to decline.
Our Articles of Incorporation authorize us to issue 300,000,000 common shares, of which 102,294,758 shares were issued and outstanding as of December 31, 2021. In addition, certain shareholders hold registration rights, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders.” Furthermore pursuant to our two, currently effective, At the Market offering programs, we may offer and sell a number of our common shares, having an aggregate offering price of up to $150 million at any time and from time to time. Sales of a substantial number of our common shares in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, may depress the market price for our common shares. These sales could also impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of our equity securities in the future. We intend to issue additional common shares in the future. Our shareholders may incur dilution from any future equity offering and upon the issuance of additional common shares pursuant to our equity incentive plans.
We may fail to meet the continued listing requirements of the Nasdaq, which could cause our common shares to be delisted.
There can be no assurance that we will remain in compliance with Nasdaq’s listing qualification rules, or that our common shares will not be delisted, which could have an adverse effect on the market price of, and the efficiency of the trading market for, our common shares and could cause a default under certain senior secured credit facilities.
The price of our common shares may be highly volatile.
The price of our common shares may fluctuate due to factors such as: actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly and annual results and those of other public companies in our industry; mergers and strategic alliances in the dry bulk shipping industry; market conditions in the dry bulk shipping industry; changes in market valuations of companies in our industry; changes in government regulation; the failure of securities analysts to publish research about us, or shortfalls in our operating results from levels forecast by securities analysts; announcements concerning us or our competitors; and the general state of the securities markets. Hence, the market for our common shares may be unpredictable and volatile. Further, there may be no continuing active or liquid public market for our common shares. Consequently, you may not be able to sell the common shares at prices equal to or greater than those paid by you, or you may not be able to sell them at all. 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.
Anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents could have the effect of discouraging, delaying or preventing a merger or acquisition, or could make it difficult for our shareholders to replace or remove our current Board of Directors, which could adversely affect the market price of our common shares.
Several provisions of our Articles of Incorporation and our Bylaws could make it difficult for our shareholders to change the composition of our Board of Directors in any one year, preventing them from changing the
composition of management. In addition, the same provisions may discourage, delay or prevent a merger or acquisition that shareholders may consider favorable. These provisions include: authorizing our Board of Directors to issue “blank check” preferred stock without shareholder approval; providing for a classified Board of Directors with staggered, three-year terms; establishing certain advance notice requirements for nominations for election to our Board of Directors or for proposing matters that can be acted on by shareholders at shareholder meetings; prohibiting cumulative voting in the election of directors; limiting the persons who may call special meetings of shareholders; authorizing the removal of directors only for cause and only upon the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of our outstanding common shares entitled to vote for the directors; and establishing supermajority voting provisions with respect to amendments to certain provisions of our Articles of Incorporation and our Bylaws. These anti-takeover provisions could substantially impede the ability of public shareholders to benefit from a change in control and, as a result, may adversely affect the market price of our common shares and your ability to realize any potential change of control premium.
|Item 4.||Information on the Company|
A. History and Development of the Company
Star Bulk Carriers Corp. was incorporated in the Marshall Islands on December 13, 2006. Our executive offices are located at c/o Star Bulk Management Inc., 40 Agiou Konstantinou Str., Maroussi 15124, Athens, Greece and its telephone number is 011-30-210-617-8400. Our registered office is located at Trust Company Complex, Ajeltake Road, Ajeltake Island, Majuro, Marshall Islands, MH 96960.
Significant changes to our fleet during the years 2019 -2022
On May 27, 2019, we entered into an en bloc definitive agreement with entities controlled by Delphin Shipping, LLC (“Delphin”), an entity affiliated with Kelso & Company, pursuant to which we agreed to acquire 11 operating dry bulk vessels (the “Delphin Vessels”). The vessels were delivered to us in exchange for an aggregate of 4,503,370 of our common shares and cash consideration of $80.0 million, with the total acquisition cost being $127.5 million. All 11 Delphin Vessels were delivered to us during the third quarter of 2019. In connection with this transaction, we granted Delphin certain demand registration rights and shelf registration rights.
On December 17, 2020, we entered into a definitive agreement with entities affiliated with E.R. Capital Holding GmbH & Cie. KG (“E.R.”), pursuant to which we agreed to acquire three Capesize dry bulk vessels. The vessels are retrofitted with exhaust gas cleaning systems and were delivered to us on January 26, 2021. Consideration for the acquisition was payable in the form of $39.0 million in cash and 2,100,000 of our common shares, which shares were issued on January 26, 2021 to E.R. In connection with this transaction, we granted E.R. certain registration rights and registered the resale of 2,100,000 common shares.
On February 2, 2021, we entered into an agreement with Eneti Inc. (NYSE: NETI), or Eneti, formerly known as Scorpio Bulkers Inc., and certain other parties to acquire seven vessels, consisting of three Ultramax vessels, the Star Athena (ex-SBI Pegasus), the Star Bovarius (ex-SBI Ursa) and the Star Subaru (ex-SBI Subaru), and four Kamsarmax vessels, the Star Capoeira (ex-SBI Capoeira), the Star Carioca (ex-SBI Carioca), the Star Lambada (ex-SBI Lambada) and the Star Macarena (ex-SBI Macarena) (collectively, the “Eneti Acquisition Vessels”) by assuming the outstanding lease obligations of the Eneti Acquisition Vessels. As consideration for this transaction we agreed to issue to Eneti 3,000,000 newly issued common shares of the Company. In connection with this transaction, on February 2, 2021 we entered into a registration right agreement with Eneti, which provided Eneti with certain demand registration rights and shelf registration rights. The transaction was completed for six out of seven vessels on March 16, 2021, on which date we issued 2,649,203 of our common shares and assumed the outstanding lease obligations attributable to these six vessels of $86.9 million. On May 19, 2021 we took delivery of Star Athena (ex- SBI Pegasus), the seventh and final vessel. We issued to the relevant affiliates of Eneti 350,797 common shares representing the share consideration for the seventh vessel and we assumed the outstanding lease obligations of $12.7 million associated with the vessel. In addition, we paid an amount of $0.5 million per vessel to the lessors as security for our obligations which amount will progressively be released until May 2025.
On March 3, 2021, we entered into a definitive agreement with a third party to acquire two Eco-type resale 82,000 dwt Kamsarmax vessels (the “Kamsarmax Resale Vessels”) at a price of $55.0 million in aggregate. The vessels were delivered to us on May 25, 2021 and June 16, 2021, respectively, directly from YAMIC yard (a joint venture between Mitsui and New Yangzijiang).
From time to time, in response to changing market conditions, we have disposed certain of our vessels (the majority of which were older vessels) and have sold, cancelled or transferred some of our newbuilding vessels. As a result, we currently have a fleet of 128 vessels, with an aggregate capacity of 14.1 million dwt, consisting of Newcastlemax, Capesize, Post Panamax, Kamsarmax, Panamax, Ultramax and Supramax vessels with carrying capacities between 52,425 dwt and 209,529 dwt.
B. Business Overview
We are an international leading global shipping company that owns and operates a modern and diverse fleet of dry bulk vessels. Our vessels transport a broad range of major and minor bulk commodities, including iron ore, minerals and grain, bauxite, fertilizers and steel products, along worldwide shipping routes. Our executive management team, which has extensive shipping industry expertise, is led by Mr. Petros Pappas, who has more than 40 years of shipping experience and has managed hundreds of vessel acquisitions and dispositions.
We are committed to implementing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices into our operational and strategic decision making within the scope of our vision to be a leader in sustainable dry bulk shipping. In this respect we are a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact supporting its Ten Principles on areas of human rights, labor, environment and anticorruption and committing to the broader development goals of the United Nations, the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, we publish an annual ESG Report, which presents our ESG strategy and goals, identifies ESG related risks, and reports on our ESG performance across all our business operations. In November 2021, we released our third annual ESG Report. All of our ESG Reports may be found on our website at www.starbulk.com. The information on our website is not incorporated by reference into this annual report.
Our ESG Performance:
We endeavor to comply with all applicable environmental regulations on a timely and efficient basis, and to implement measures to further reduce our carbon footprint, improve our environmental performance and protect the marine environment. We continuously monitor the performance of our vessels through telemetry and advanced data management systems and take action to improve the energy efficiency of our fleet both operationally and technically, in view of the greenhouse gas (GHG) strategy set for 2030 and 2050 by the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency for maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by vessels (the “IMO”).
|·||We have retrofitted our fleet with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) in order to comply with emissions standards, titled IMO-2020, set by the IMO.|
|·||We have an ongoing retrofit program across our entire fleet to comply with the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention.|
|·||We participate in the Poseidon Principles, which establish a framework for assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of ship finance portfolios and are consistent with the policies and ambitions of the IMO to reduce shipping's total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050.|
|·||We collaborate with our charterers within the scope of the Sea Cargo Charter, providing them with our vessel data to enable them to assess and report on the carbon intensity of the chartering activities of these vessels.|
|·||We have engaged and actively participate in partnerships and alliances that promote sustainability in the maritime sector, including emission control and other environmental initiatives, such as the Global Maritime Forum, the Getting to Zero Coalition, the Clean Shipping Alliance, and the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association.|
|·||We are active participants in several projects for the development and/or deployment of new green technologies and alternative fuels, including with respect to:|
|·||the adoption of various latest technology voyage optimization platforms which aim to reduce fuel consumption and therefore our fleet’s CO2 footprint;|
|·||the installation of energy-saving devices, such as propeller ducts, which aim to reduce the required propulsion power and CO2 emissions of our vessels;|
|·||piloting and evaluating latest technology anti-fouling paints and hull cleaning technologies to reduce hull resistance and improve vessel’s energy efficiency;|
|·||the techno-economic feasibility assessment of several zero-emission fuels, including biofuels and green-hydrogen derived fuels such as methanol and ammonia;|
|·||onboard carbon capture technologies, leveraging also our existing exhaust gas cleaning systems; and|
|·||the testing of advanced wash-water filtration system onboard our vessels to enable the removal of micro-plastics from port waters|
We are focused on continuously improving our social impact, including with respect to the health, safety and wellbeing of employees, both on board and ashore, to operational excellence, and to community support.
|·||The health, safety, security and well-being of our people at sea and on shore is our top priority, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information with respect to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our ESG Report, which may be found on our website at www.starbulk.com. The information on our website is not incorporated by reference into this annual report. We are a signatory to the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing, which promotes the health and safety of seafarers. We are also signatories of the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy.|
|·||We are dedicated to providing equal employment opportunities and treating our people fairly without regard to race, color, religious beliefs, age, sex, or any other classification.|
|·||We maintain high retention rates both on board and ashore and work to facilitate the professional development, continuous training and career advancement of our people.|
|·||We are consistently the top ranked dry bulk operator among peers in the RightShip Safety Score.|
|·||Our community investment activities focus on, but are not limited to, supporting vulnerable groups and youth education in Greece.|
We endeavor to apply corporate governance best practices, adhere to high ethical principles and ensure the high commercial performance of our fleet.
|·||The Company is governed by a diverse and experienced, majority independent Board of Directors.|
|·||We have a transparent Code of Ethics and Anti-Corruption Policy in place.|
|·||We implement strong internal controls structured to ensure robust risk management.|
|·||We continuously cultivate an open reporting culture with respect to any violations of the Code of Ethics.|
Our Decarbonization Strategy
We aspire to be frontrunners in the industry’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions and lead by example by applying new technologies and forming alliances with participants that aim to decarbonize the industry.
The five pillars of our decarbonization strategy are:
|·||Monitoring and transparent reporting on our GHG emissions.|
|·||Improving the energy efficiency of our existing fleet.|
|·||Identifying and assessing climate related risks and opportunities.|
|·||Participating in research and development for new technologies and alternative fuels.|
|·||Developing partnerships and participating in environmental alliances.|
We have built a fleet through timely and selective acquisitions of secondhand and newbuilding vessels. Our fleet is well-positioned to take advantage of economies of scale in commercial, technical and procurement management. We have a large, modern, fuel-efficient and high-quality fleet, which emphasizes the largest Eco-type Capesize and Newcastlemax vessels, built at leading shipyards and featuring the latest technology. As a result, we believe we will have an opportunity to capitalize on rising market demand during a period of reduced fleet growth, customer preferences for our ships and economies of scale, while enabling us to capture the benefits of fuel cost savings through spot time charters or voyage charters.
The majority of our operating fleet is equipped with a vessel remote monitoring system that provides data to monitor fuel and lubricant consumption and efficiency on a real-time basis. While these monitoring systems are generally available in the shipping industry, we believe that they can be cost-effectively employed only by large-scale shipping operators, such as us.
In addition, pursuant to the IMO sulfur cap regulations, which limited emission to 0.5% m/m sulfur content that came into force in January 2020, we decided to install scrubbers on the vast majority of our vessels (“Scrubber Retrofitting Program”). As of the date of this annual report, we have successfully completed the installation of scrubbers on 120 vessels out of the 128 vessels in our fleet. We believe that the new maritime regulations will have a strong impact on the maritime industry and will distinguish us from other dry bulk owners that will have conventional dry bulk vessels that will not be able to consume less expensive bunker fuel with higher sulfur content. We believe installation of scrubbers will increase our competitive advantage commercially making our fleet more attractive to charterers and cargo owners.
The following tables summarize key information about our operating fleet, as of the date of this annual report:
|Wholly Owned Subsidiaries||Vessel Name||DWT||Delivered to Star Bulk||Year Built|
|1||Pearl Shiptrade LLC||Gargantua (1)||209,529||April 2, 2015||2015|
|2||Star Ennea LLC||Star Gina 2GR||209,475||February 26, 2016||2016|
|3||Coral Cape Shipping LLC||Maharaj (1)||209,472||July 15, 2015||2015|
|4||Sea Diamond Shipping LLC||Goliath (1)||207,999||July 15, 2015||2015|
|5||Star Castle II LLC||Star Leo||207,939||May 14, 2018||2018|
|6||ABY Eleven Ltd||Star Laetitia||207,896||August 3, 2018||2017|
|7||Domus Shipping LLC||Star Ariadne||207,774||March 28, 2017||2017|
|8||Star Breezer LLC||Star Virgo||207,774||March 1, 2017||2017|
|9||Star Seeker LLC||Star Libra (1)||207,727||June 6, 2016||2016|
|10||ABY Nine Ltd||Star Sienna||207,721||August 3, 2018||2017|
|11||Clearwater Shipping LLC||Star Marisa||207,671||March 11 2016||2016|
|12||ABY Ten Ltd||Star Karlie||207,566||August 3, 2018||2016|
|13||Star Castle I LLC||Star Eleni||207,517||January 3, 2018||2018|
|14||Festive Shipping LLC||Star Magnanimus||207,490||March 26, 2018||2018|
|15||New Era II Shipping LLC||Debbie H||206,823||May 28, 2019||2019|
|16||New Era III Shipping LLC||Star Ayesha||206,814||July 15, 2019||2019|
|17||New Era I Shipping LLC||Katie K||206,803||April 16, 2019||2019|
|18||Cape Ocean Maritime LLC||Leviathan||182,466||September 19, 2014||2014|
|19||Cape Horizon Shipping LLC||Peloreus||182,451||July 22, 2014||2014|
|20||Star Nor I LLC||Star Claudine||181,258||July 6, 2018||2011|
|21||Star Nor II LLC||Star Ophelia||180,716||July 6, 2018||2010|
|22||Sandra Shipco LLC||Star Pauline||180,233||December 29, 2014||2008|
|23||Christine Shipco LLC||Star Martha||180,231||October 31, 2014||2010|
|24||Pacific Cape Shipping LLC||Pantagruel||180,140||July 11, 2014||2004|
|25||Star Polaris LLC||Star Polaris||179,648||November 14, 2011||2011|
|26||Star Borealis LLC||Star Borealis||179,601||September 9, 2011||2011|
|27||Star Nor III LLC||Star Lyra||179,147||July 6, 2018||2009|
|28||Star Regg V LLC||Star Borneo||178,978||January 26, 2021||2010|
|29||Star Regg VI LLC||Star Bueno||178,978||January 26, 2021||2010|
|30||Star Regg IV LLC||Star Marilena||178,977||January 26, 2021||2010|
|31||Star Regg I LLC||Star Marianne||178,841||January 14, 2019||2010|
|32||Star Regg II LLC||Star Janni||177,939||January 7, 2019||2010|
|33||Star Trident V LLC||Star Angie||177,931||October 29, 2014||2007|
|34||Sky Cape Shipping LLC||Big Fish||177,620||July 11, 2014||2004|
|35||Global Cape Shipping LLC||Kymopolia||176,948||July 11, 2014||2006|
|36||Star Trident XXV Ltd.||Star Triumph||176,274||December 8, 2017||2004|
|37||ABY Fourteen Ltd||Star Scarlett||175,800||August 3, 2018||2014|
|38||ABY Fifteen Ltd||Star Audrey||175,125||August 3, 2018||2011|
|39||Sea Cape Shipping LLC||Big Bang||174,109||July 11, 2014||2007|
|40||ABY I LLC||Star Paola||115,259||August 3, 2018||2011|
|Wholly Owned Subsidiaries||Vessel Name||DWT||Delivered to Star Bulk||Year Built|
|41||ABM One Ltd||Star Eva||106,659||August 3, 2018||2012|
|42||Nautical Shipping LLC||Amami||98,648||July 11, 2014||2011|
|43||Majestic Shipping LLC||Madredeus||98,648||July 11, 2014||2011|
|44||Star Sirius LLC||Star Sirius (1)||98,648||March 7, 2014||2011|
|45||Star Vega LLC||Star Vega (1)||98,648||February 13, 2014||2011|
|46||ABY II LLC||Star Aphrodite||92,006||August 3, 2018||2011|
|47||Augustea Bulk Carrier Ltd||Star Piera||91,952||August 3, 2018||2010|
|48||Augustea Bulk Carrier Ltd||Star Despoina||91,945||August 3, 2018||2010|
|49||Star Trident I LLC||Star Kamila||87,001||September 3, 2014||2005|
|50||Star Nor IV LLC||Star Electra||83,494||July 6, 2018||2011|
|51||Star Alta I LLC||Star Angelina||82,953||December 5, 2014||2006|
|52||Star Alta II LLC||Star Gwyneth||82,703||December 5, 2014||2006|
|53||Star Nor VI LLC||Star Luna||82,687||July 6, 2018||2008|
|54||Star Nor V LLC||Star Bianca||82,672||July 6, 2018||2008|
|55||Grain Shipping LLC||Pendulum||82,578||July 11, 2014||2006|
|56||Star Trident XIX LLC||Star Maria||82,578||November 5, 2014||2007|
|57||Star Trident XII LLC||Star Markella||82,574||September 29, 2014||2007|
|58||ABY Seven Ltd||Star Jeanette||82,567||August 3, 2018||2014|
|59||Star Trident IX LLC||Star Danai||82,554||October 21, 2014||2006|
|60||Star Sun I LLC||Star Elizabeth||82,430||May 25, 2021||2021|
|61||Star Sun II LLC||Star Pavlina||82,361||June 16, 2021||2021|
|62||Star Trident XI LLC||Star Georgia||82,281||October 14, 2014||2006|
|63||Star Trident VIII LLC||Star Sophia||82,252||October 31, 2014||2007|
|64||Star Trident XVI LLC||Star Mariella||82,249||September 19, 2014||2006|
|65||Star Trident XIV LLC||Star Moira||82,220||November 19, 2014||2006|
|66||Star Trident X LLC||Star Renee||82,204||December 18, 2014||2006|
|67||Star Trident XIII LLC||Star Laura||82,192||December 8, 2014||2006|
|68||Star Trident XV LLC||Star Jennifer||82,192||April 15, 2015||2006|
|69||Star Nor VIII LLC||Star Mona||82,188||July 6, 2018||2012|
|70||Star Trident II LLC||Star Nasia||82,183||August 29, 2014||2006|
|71||Star Nor VII LLC||Star Astrid||82,158||July 6, 2018||2012|
|72||Star Trident XVII LLC||Star Helena||82,150||December 29, 2014||2006|
|73||Star Trident XVIII LLC||Star Nina||82,145||January 5, 2015||2006|
|74||Waterfront Two Ltd||Star Alessia||81,944||August 3, 2018||2017|
|75||Star Nor IX LLC||Star Calypso||81,918||July 6, 2018||2014|
|76||Star Elpis LLC||Star Suzanna||81,644||May 15, 2017||2013|
|77||Star Gaia LLC||Star Charis||81,643||March 22, 2017||2013|
|78||Mineral Shipping LLC||Mercurial Virgo||81,502||July 11, 2014||2013|
|79||Star Nor X LLC||Stardust||81,502||July 6, 2018||2011|
|80||Star Nor XI LLC||Star Sky||81,466||July 6, 2018||2010|
|81||Star Zeus VI LLC||Star Lambada (1)||81,272||March 16, 2021||2016|
|82||Star Zeus I LLC||Star Capoeira (1)||81,253||March 16, 2021||2015|
|83||Star Zeus II LLC||Star Carioca (1)||81,199||March 16, 2021||2015|
|84||Star Zeus VII LLC||Star Macarena (1)||81,198||March 6, 2021||2016|
|Wholly Owned Subsidiaries||Vessel Name||DWT||Delivered to Star Bulk||Year Built|
|85||ABY III LLC||Star Lydia||81,187||August 3, 2018||2013|
|86||ABY IV LLC||Star Nicole||81,120||August 3, 2018||2013|
|87||ABY Three Ltd||Star Virginia||81,061||August 3, 2018||2015|
|88||Star Nor XII LLC||Star Genesis||80,705||July 6, 2018||2010|
|89||Star Nor XIII LLC||Star Flame||80,448||July 6, 2018||2011|
|90||Star Trident III LLC||Star Iris||76,390||September 8, 2014||2004|
|91||Star Trident XX LLC||Star Emily||76,339||September 16, 2014||2004|
|92||Orion Maritime LLC||Idee Fixe (1)||63,437||March 25, 2015||2015|
|93||Primavera Shipping LLC||Roberta (1)||63,404||March 31, 2015||2015|
|94||Success Maritime LLC||Laura (1)||63,377||April 7, 2015||2015|
|95||Star Zeus III LLC||Star Athena (1)||63,371||May 19, 2021||2015|
|96||Ultra Shipping LLC||Kaley (1)||63,261||June 26, 2015||2015|
|97||Blooming Navigation LLC||Kennadi (1)||63,240||January 8, 2016||2016|
|98||Jasmine Shipping LLC||Mackenzie (1)||63,204||March 2, 2016||2016|
|99||STAR LIDA I SHIPPING LLC||Star Apus (1)||63,123||July 16, 2019||2014|
|100||Star Zeus V LLC||Star Bovarius (1)||61,571||March 16, 2021||2015|
|101||Star Zeus IV LLC||Star Subaru (1)||61,521||March 16, 2021||2015|
|102||Star Nor XV LLC||Star Wave||61,491||July 6, 2018||2017|
|103||Star Challenger I LLC||Star Challenger (1)||61,462||December 12, 2013||2012|
|104||Star Challenger II LLC||Star Fighter (1)||61,455||December 30, 2013||2013|
|105||Aurelia Shipping LLC||Honey Badger (1)||61,324||February 27, 2015||2015|
|106||Star Axe II LLC||Star Lutas (1)||61,323||January 6, 2016||2016|
|107||Rainbow Maritime LLC||Wolverine (1)||61,268||February 27, 2015||2015|
|108||Star Axe I LLC||Star Antares (1)||61,234||October 9, 2015||2015|
|109||ABY Five Ltd||Star Monica||60,935||August 3, 2018||2015|
|110||Star Asia I LLC||Star Aquarius||60,873||July 22, 2015||2015|
|111||Star Asia II LLC||Star Pisces (1)||60,873||August 7, 2015||2015|
|112||Star Nor XIV LLC||Star Glory||58,680||July 6, 2018||2012|
|113||STAR LIDA XI SHIPPING LLC||Star Pyxis (1)||56,615||August 19, 2019||2013|
|114||STAR LIDA VIII SHIPPING LLC||Star Hydrus (1)||56,604||August 8, 2019||2013|
|115||STAR LIDA IX SHIPPING LLC||Star Cleo (1)||56,582||July 15, 2019||2013|
|116||Star Trident VII LLC||Diva (1)||56,582||July 24, 2017||2011|
|117||STAR LIDA VI SHIPPING LLC||Star Centaurus||56,559||September 18, 2019||2012|
|118||STAR LIDA VII SHIPPING LLC||Star Hercules||56,545||July 16, 2019||2012|
|119||STAR LIDA X SHIPPING LLC||Star Pegasus (1)||56,540||July 15, 2019||2013|
|120||STAR LIDA III SHIPPING LLC||Star Cepheus (1)||56,539||July 16, 2019||2012|
|121||STAR LIDA IV SHIPPING LLC||Star Columba (1)||56,530||July 23, 2019||2012|
|122||STAR LIDA V SHIPPING LLC||Star Dorado (1)||56,507||July 16, 2019||2013|
|123||STAR LIDA II SHIPPING LLC||Star Aquila||56,506||July 15, 2019||2012|
|124||Star Regg III LLC||Star Bright||55,783||October 10, 2018||2010|
|125||Glory Supra Shipping LLC||Strange Attractor||55,715||July 11, 2014||2006|
|126||Star Omicron LLC||Star Omicron||53,444||April 17, 2008||2005|
|127||Star Zeta LLC||Star Zeta||52,994||January 2, 2008||2003|
|128||Star Theta LLC||Star Theta||52,425||December 6, 2007||2003|
|(1)||Subject to a sale and leaseback financing transaction, as further described in Note 6 to our audited consolidated financial statements included in this annual report.|
Our Competitive Strengths
We believe that we possess a number of competitive strengths in our industry, including:
We manage a high quality, scrubber fitted modern fleet
We own a modern, diverse, high quality fleet of 128 dry bulk carrier vessels with an aggregate capacity of 14.1 million dwt and an average age of 10.0 years. In addition, 120 out of the 128 vessels in our fleet are retrofitted with exhaust gas cleaning systems.
We believe that owning a modern, high quality fleet reduces operating costs, improves safety and provides us with a competitive advantage in securing favorable time charters. We maintain the quality of our vessels by carrying out regular inspections, both while in port and at sea, and adopting a comprehensive maintenance program for each vessel. Furthermore, we take a proactive approach to safety and environmental protection through comprehensively planned maintenance systems, preventive maintenance programs and by retaining and training qualified crews.
Based on the scale, scope and quality of our fleet and our commercial and technical management capabilities and because much of our fleet is currently chartered on the spot market, we believe we are well-positioned to take advantage of the ongoing recovery in the dry bulk market.
In-house commercial and technical management of our fleet enable us to have very competitive operating expenses and high vessel maintenance and operating standards
We conduct a significant portion of the commercial and technical management of our vessels in-house through our wholly owned subsidiaries, Star Bulk Management Inc., Star Bulk Shipmanagement Company (Cyprus) Limited and Starbulk S.A. We believe having control over the commercial and technical management provides us with a competitive advantage over many of our competitors by allowing us to monitor our operations more closely and to offer higher quality performance, reliability and efficiency in arranging charters and the maintenance of our vessels. We also believe that these management capabilities contribute significantly in maintaining a lower level of vessel operating and maintenance costs, without sacrificing the quality of our operations.
Focus on new technology to improve fuel efficiency and vessel operations
In response to the increased environmental regulations around decarbonization, we have focused our attention in improving the sustainability and fuel efficiency of our operations. The majority of our operating fleet has been equipped with a sophisticated vessel performance monitoring system (“VPM”) and we plan to install the system on the remaining vessels of our fleet as well. The VPM system allows us to collect real-time information on the performance of important equipment, with a particular focus on vessel performance, fuel consumption and exhaust gas emissions. The system is designed to enhance our operational knowledge and increase the efficiency of our trading and of our vessel maintenance.
Furthermore we take operational measures, including speed reduction, weather routing, voyage optimization and have planned technical upgrades to our fleet, such as the use of Energy Saving Devices (ESD) and low friction hull paints in order to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. We plan to use underwater ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicles) for inspecting and cleaning the underwater hulls of our vessels. We also plan to proceed with EPL (Engine Power Limitation) in order to meet the IMO EEXI (Energy Efficiency Existing ship Index) requirements.
Most of our vessels’ main engines have been retrofitted with sliding engine valves and alpha lubricators, which provide additional fuel efficiency and optimized lubricant consumption. We are replacing the conventional lights of our ships with LED lights in order to reduce energy consumption.
We believe that the above measures are the most efficient initiatives towards decarbonization until technological advances allow the use of very low or zero carbon emission fuels. We have performed a thorough evaluation of our fleet’s performance, which has juxtaposed the projected performance of each of our vessels against the applicable regulatory requirements.
Finally we have established a compliance section within our Technical department in order to monitor exhaust gas emissions and ensure compliance with regional and international regulations.
Experienced management team with a strong track record in the shipping industry and extensive relationships with customers, lenders, shipyards and other shipping industry participants
Our company’s leadership has considerable shipping industry expertise. Our founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Pappas, has an established track record in the dry bulk industry, with more than 40 years of experience and hundreds of vessel acquisitions and dispositions. Mr. Pappas has extensive experience in operating and investing in shipping, including through his family’s principal shipping operations and investment vehicle, Oceanbulk Maritime S.A. Mr. Pappas also has extensive relationships in the shipping industry, and he has leveraged his deep relationships with shipbuilders to implement, when applicable, our newbuilding program with vessels of high specification.
Through Mr. Pappas and our senior management team, we also have strong global relationships with shipping companies, charterers, shipyards, brokers and commercial shipping lenders. Further, we expect our senior management and chartering teams’ long track record in the voyage and time chartering of dry bulk ships will allow us to continue successfully chartering our vessels in all economic environments. We believe that these relationships and our strong sale and purchase track record and reputation as a creditworthy counterparty should provide us with access to attractive asset acquisitions, chartering and ship financing opportunities.
For more information on our management team, see “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—A. Directors and Senior Management.”
Our Business Strategies
Our primary objectives are to grow our business profitably and to continue to grow as a successful owner and operator of dry bulk vessels. The key elements of our strategy are:
Capitalize on potential increases in charter rates for dry bulk shipping
The dry bulk shipping industry is cyclical in nature. The supply of dry bulk carriers is dependent on the delivery of new vessels and the removal of vessels from the global fleet, either through scrapping or loss, and the demand for dry bulk shipping is often dependent on economic conditions, and international trade. For more information on dry bulk market, see “Item 4. Information on the Company – B. Business Overview - Basis for Statements -The International Dry Bulk Shipping Industry.
Charter our vessels in an active and sophisticated manner
Given the volatility of the freight markets, we believe we should be flexible to changing market conditions and actively manage our vessels in order to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns by providing efficient transportation solutions to our major charterers. Currently we are arranging voyage and short-term time charters which provide optionality for the Company given the current market levels. Our aim is to continue improving our fleet utilization by booking long haul voyage charters and complimentary trade flows that improve the laden/ballast ratios. This approach is also tailored specifically to our scrubber-fitted fleet and the fuel efficiency of our younger vessels. While this process is more difficult and labor intensive than placing our vessels on longer-term time charters, it can
lead to greater profitability. When operating a vessel on a voyage charter, as well as on contracts of affreightment directly with cargo providers, we (as owner of the vessel) will incur fuel costs, and therefore, we are in a position to benefit from fuel savings from our scrubber-fitted fleet. If charter market levels rise, we may employ part of our fleet in the long-term time charter market, while we may be able to employ our scrubber-fitted vessels more advantageously in the voyage charter market and/or short-term time charters in order to capture the benefit of available fuel cost savings. Our large, diverse and high-quality fleet provides scale to major charterers, such as iron ore miners, utility companies and commodity trading houses. As part of our strategy to maximize earnings, we seek direct arrangements (consecutive voyages, contracts of affreightment, etc.) with major charterers and cargo owners on a voyage basis, providing the scale required for the transportation of large commodity volumes over a multitude of trading routes around the world.
We are also party of a Capesize vessel pooling agreement (“Capesize Chartering Ltd or CCL Pool or CCL”) with Bocimar International NV, and C Transport Holding Ltd, managed by C Transport Maritime S.A.M (CTM). As of December 31, 2021, we operated approximately 35 of our Newcastlemax and Capesize dry bulk vessels as part of one combined CCL fleet. The CCL fleet consists of approximately 135 modern Newcastlemax and Capesize vessels and is being managed out of Athens, Singapore and Antwerp. Each vessel owner is responsible for the operating, accounting and technical management of its respective vessels. The objective of this pool is to provide improved scheduling through joint marketing of our Newcastlemax and Capesize vessels, with the overall aim of enhancing economic efficiencies.
On October 3, 2017, we formed a wholly owned subsidiary, Star Logistics based in Geneva, Switzerland. Star Logistics chartered-in a number of third-party vessels on a short- to medium- term basis to increase its operating capacity in order to satisfy its clients’ needs. In 2020, we terminated our Geneva-based commercial activities and have established a new wholly-owned subsidiary based in Singapore under the name Star Bulk (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (or “Star Bulk Singapore”), aiming to expand our commercial capability and access to charterers and cargoes in Asia.
Expand and renew our fleet through opportunistic acquisitions of high-quality vessels at attractive prices
As market conditions continue to improve, we may opportunistically acquire high-quality vessels at attractive prices that are accretive to our cash flow. We also look to opportunistically renew our fleet by replacing older vessels that have higher maintenance and survey costs and lower operating efficiencies with newer vessels that have lower operating costs, fewer maintenance and survey requirements, lower fuel consumption and overall enhanced commercial attractiveness to our charterers. When evaluating acquisitions, we will consider and analyze, among other things, our expectations of fundamental developments in the dry bulk shipping industry sector, the level of liquidity in the resale and charter market, the cash flow earned by the vessel in relation to its value, its condition and technical specifications with particular regard to fuel consumption, expected remaining useful life, the credit quality of the charterer and duration and terms of charter contracts for vessels acquired with charters attached, as well as the overall diversification of our fleet and customers. We believe that these circumstances combined with our management’s knowledge of the shipping industry may present an opportunity for us to continue to grow our fleet at favorable prices.
Maintain a strong balance sheet through optimization of use of leverage
We finance our fleet with a mix of debt and equity, and we intend to optimize use of leverage over time, even though we may have the capacity to obtain additional financing. As of December 31, 2021, our debt to total capitalization ratio (i.e. the book value of our vessels) was approximately 40%. Charterers have increasingly favored financially solid vessel owners, and we believe that our balance sheet strength will enable us to access more favorable chartering opportunities, as well as give us a competitive advantage in pursuing vessel acquisitions from commercial banks and shipyards, which in our experience have recently displayed a preference for contracting with well-capitalized counterparties.
Demand for dry bulk carriers fluctuates in line with the main patterns of trade of the major dry bulk cargoes and varies according to their supply and demand. We compete with other owners of dry bulk carriers in the Newcastlemax, Capesize, Post Panamax, Kamsarmax, Panamax, Ultramax and Supramax size sectors. Ownership of dry bulk carriers is highly fragmented. We compete for charters on the basis of price, vessel location, size, age and condition of the vessel, as well as on our reputation as an owner and operator.
We have well-established relationships with major dry bulk charterers, which we serve by carrying a variety of cargoes over a multitude of routes around the globe. We charter out our vessels to first class iron ore miners, utilities companies, commodity trading houses and diversified shipping companies.
Demand for vessel capacity has historically exhibited seasonal variations and, as a result, fluctuations in charter rates. This seasonality may result in quarter-to-quarter volatility in our operating results for vessels trading in the spot market. The dry bulk sector is typically stronger in the fall and winter months in anticipation of increased consumption of coal and other raw materials in the northern hemisphere. Seasonality in the sector in which we operate could materially affect our operating results and cash flows.
In-house Management of the fleet
Star Bulk Management Inc., Star Bulk Shipmanagement Company (Cyprus) Limited and Starbulk S.A., three of our wholly-owned subsidiaries, perform the operational and technical management services for the majority of the vessels in our fleet, including chartering, marketing, capital expenditures, personnel, accounting, paying vessel taxes and maintaining insurance.
As of December 31, 2021, we had 181 employees engaged in the day to day management of our fleet, including our executive officers, through Star Bulk Management Inc., Star Bulk Shipmanagement Company (Cyprus) Limited and Starbulk S.A. which employ a number of shore-based executives and employees designed to ensure the efficient performance of our activities. We reimburse and/or advance funds as necessary to our in-house managers in order for them to conduct their activities and discharge their obligations, at cost.
Star Bulk Management Inc. is responsible for the management of the vessels. Star Bulk Management’s responsibilities include, inter alia, locating, purchasing, financing and selling vessels, deciding on capital expenditures for the vessels, paying vessels’ taxes, negotiating charters for the vessels, managing the mix of various types of charters, developing and managing the relationships with charterers and the operational and technical managers of the vessels. Star Bulk Management Inc. subcontracts certain vessel management services to Starbulk S.A.
Starbulk S.A. provides the technical and crew management of the majority of our vessels. Technical management includes maintenance, dry docking, repairs, insurance, regulatory and classification society compliance, arranging for and managing crews, appointing technical consultants and providing technical support.
Star Bulk Shipmanagement Company (Cyprus) Limited provides technical and operation management services to 14 of our vessels. The management services include arrangement and supervision of dry docking, repairs, insurance, regulatory and classification society compliance, provision of crew, appointment of surveyors and technical consultants.
Starbulk S.A. and Star Bulk Shipmanagement Company (Cyprus) Limited are responsible for recruiting, either directly or through a technical manager or a crew manager, the senior officers and all other crew members for the vessels in our fleet. Both companies have the responsibility to ensure that all seamen have the qualifications and licenses required to comply with international regulations and shipping conventions, and that the vessels are manned by experienced, competent and trained personnel. Starbulk S.A. and Star Bulk Shipmanagement Company (Cyprus) Limited are also responsible for ensuring that seafarers’ wages and terms of employment conform to international standards or to general collective bargaining agreements to allow unrestricted worldwide trading of the vessels and provide the crewing management for the vessels in our fleet that are not managed by third party managers.
Outsourced Management of the fleet
We engage Ship Procurement Services S.A., a third-party company, to provide to our fleet certain procurement services.
Following the completion of the acquisition of certain vessels from Augustea Atlantica SpA (“Augustea”) and York Capital Management (“York”) in 2018, (the “Augustea Vessels”), we appointed Augustea Technoservices Ltd., an entity affiliated with certain of the sellers of the corresponding transaction and specifically with one of the Company’s directors, Mr. Zagari (see “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—A. Directors and Senior Management”) as the technical manager of certain of our vessels.
During 2018 and 2019, we appointed Equinox Maritime Ltd., Zeaborn GmbH & Co. KG and Technomar Shipping Inc., which are third party management companies, to provide certain management services to our vessels.
In addition, in 2021 we appointed Iblea Ship Management Limited, an entity affiliated with one of the Company’s directors, Mr. Zagari, to provide certain management services to our vessels, previously managed by Augustea Technoservices Ltd.
As of December 31, 2021, Augustea Technoservices Ltd., Equinox Maritime Ltd., Zeaborn GmbH & Co. KG, Technomar Shipping Inc. and Iblea Ship Management Limited provide technical, operation and crewing management services to 44 of the 128 vessels in our fleet. Please also see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions.”
Basis for Statements
The International Dry Bulk Shipping Industry
Dry bulk cargo is cargo that is shipped in large quantities and can be easily stowed in a single hold with little risk of cargo damage. In 2021, based on preliminary figures, it is estimated that approximately 5.4 billion tons of dry bulk cargo was transported by sea.
The demand for dry bulk carrier capacity is derived from the underlying demand for commodities transported in dry bulk carriers, which is influenced by various factors such as broader macroeconomic dynamics, globalization trends, industry specific factors, geological structure of ores, political factors, and weather. The demand for dry bulk carriers is determined by the volume and geographical distribution of seaborne dry bulk trade, which in turn is influenced by general trends in the global economy and factors affecting demand for commodities. During the 1980s and 1990s seaborne dry bulk trade increased by 1-2% per annum. However, over the last fifteen years, between 2007 and 2021, seaborne dry bulk trade increased at a compound annual growth rate of 3.2%, substantially influenced by the entrance of China in the World Trade Organization. Seaborne world trade increased by 4.1% during 2021 due to strong global economic recovery supported by vaccination against COVID-19 and synchronized global economic stimulus that inflated iron ore, coal, grains and minor bulks trade, notably on long-haul routes to Asia. The global dry bulk carrier fleet may be divided into seven categories based on a vessel’s carrying capacity. These main categories consist of:
|·||Newcastlemax vessels, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 200,000 and 210,000 dwt. These vessels carry both iron ore and coal and they represent the largest vessels able to enter the port of Newcastle in Australia. There are relatively few ports around the world with the infrastructure to accommodate vessels of this size.|
|·||Capesize vessels, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 100,000 and 200,000 dwt. These vessels generally operate along long-haul iron ore and coal trade routes. There are relatively few ports around the world with the infrastructure to accommodate vessels of this size.|
|·||Post-Panamax vessels, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 90,000 and 100,000 dwt. These vessels tend to have a shallower draft and larger beam than a standard Panamax vessel, and a higher cargo capacity. These vessels have been designed specifically for loading high cubic cargoes from draft restricted ports, and they can traverse the Panama Canal following the completion of its latest expansion.|
|·||Panamax vessels, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 65,000 and 90,000 dwt. These vessels carry coal, grains, and, to a lesser extent, minor bulks, including steel products, forest products and fertilizers. Panamax vessels can pass through the Panama Canal.|
|·||Ultramax vessels, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 60,000 and 65,000 dwt. These vessels carry grains and minor bulks and operate along many global trade routes. They represent the largest and most modern version of Supramax bulk carrier vessels (see below).|
|·||Handymax vessels, which are vessels with carrying capacities of between 35,000 and 60,000 dwt. The subcategory of vessels that have a carrying capacity of between 45,000 and 60,000 dwt are called Supramax. Handymax vessels operate along a large number of geographically dispersed global trade routes, mainly carrying grains and minor bulks. Vessels below 60,000 dwt are sometimes built with on-board cranes enabling them to load and discharge cargo in countries and ports with limited infrastructure.|
|·||Handysize vessels, which are vessels with carrying capacities of up to 35,000 dwt. These vessels carry exclusively minor bulk cargo. Increasingly, these vessels have been operating along regional trading routes. Handysize vessels are well suited for small ports with length and draft restrictions that lack the infrastructure for cargo loading and unloading.|
The supply of dry bulk carriers is dependent on the delivery of new vessels and the removal of vessels from the global fleet, either through scrapping or loss, and the demand for dry bulk shipping is often dependent on economic conditions, and international trade. The historically low dry bulk charter rates seen in 2016 acted as a catalyst for ship owners, who scrapped a significant number of vessels, until equilibrium between demand and supply of vessels was achieved. Based on our analysis of industry dynamics, we believe that dry bulk charter rates will remain strong in the medium term due to historically low vessel deliveries. As of January 4, 2022, the global dry bulk carrier order book amounted to approximately 7.0% of the existing fleet at that time, a record low number not seen in 30 years. During 2021, a total of 5.2 million dwt was scrapped, which was only a third compared to the year before as the freight market increased to 14 years high levels. Historically, from 2006 to 2021, vessel annual demolition rate averaged 14.3 million dwt per year, with a high of 33.3 million dwt scrapped in 2012. Given the low dry bulk order book, the uncertainty on future propulsion as a result of upcoming environmental regulations and the limited shipyard capacity, vessel supply is likely to be constrained during the next two years, while demand for seaborne trade is expected to surpass vessel supply resulting in increased fleet utilization and elevated freight rates. While the charter market remains at current levels, we intend to operate our vessels in the spot market under short-term time charters or voyage charters in order to benefit from the increased freight rates and the attractiveness of our scrubber-equipped vessels.
Charter rates paid for dry bulk carriers are primarily a function of the underlying balance between vessel supply and demand, although at times other factors may play a role. Furthermore, the pattern seen in charter rates is broadly similar across the different charter types and between the different dry bulk carrier categories. However, because demand for larger dry bulk carriers is affected by the volume and pattern of trade in a relatively small number of commodities, charter rates (and vessel values) of larger ships tend to be more volatile than those for smaller vessels.
In the time charter market, rates vary depending on the length of the charter period and vessel specific factors such as age, speed and fuel consumption. In the voyage charter market, rates are also influenced by cargo size, commodity, port dues and canal transit fees, as well as delivery and redelivery regions. In general, a larger cargo size is quoted at a lower rate per ton than a smaller cargo size. Routes with costly ports or canals generally command higher rates than routes with low port dues and no canals to transit.
Voyages with a load port within a region that includes ports where vessels usually discharge cargo or a discharge port within a region with ports where vessels load cargo are generally quoted at lower rates, because such voyages generally increase vessel utilization by reducing the unloaded portion (or ballast leg) that is included in the calculation of the return charter to a loading area.
Within the dry bulk shipping industry, the charter rate references most likely to be monitored are the freight rate indices issued by the Baltic Exchange, such as the Baltic Dry Index (“BDI”). These references are based on actual charter rates under charters entered into by market participants, as well as daily assessments provided to the Baltic Exchange by a panel of major shipbrokers.
The BDI declined from a high of 11,793 in May 2008 to a low of 290 in February 2016, which represents a decline of 98%. In 2021, the BDI ranged from a low of 1,303 in February 2021, to a high of 5,650 in October 2021. As of January 4, 2022, the BDI stood at 2,285. Even though charter hire levels have increased compared to the lows of 2016, there can be no assurance that they will increase further, and the market could decline again.
Environmental and Other Regulations in the Shipping Industry
Government laws and regulations significantly affect the ownership and operation of our fleets. We are subject to international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the countries where our vessels may operate or are registered, relating to safety, health and environmental protection. Industry standards and regulations set by maritime organizations play a major role in the manner in which we conduct our business. Taking all the necessary measures and going above and beyond compliance is the prerequisite for delivering services of the highest quality. The above include 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.
Our company has specifically developed a recycling policy, which has been included within our Safety Management System (“SMS”) and applies to all the managed vessels. In addition to the above, there are clearly and accurately defined measures that need to be retained as well as standards that should be achieved, which are required, in view of the levels of excellence that our company aims for and achieves. There is a clear delegation of the monitoring and maintenance to responsible entities (both ashore and on board) and the duties have been clarified as required. Each vessel has a ship specific plan (namely the Inventory of Hazardous Materials), which has been reviewed and approved by the competent classification society and they have been certified for compliance with the required regulation.
Active engagement with state and regulatory authorities ensures compliance with all applicable standards and regulation. We follow and comply with state and regulatory authority rules and regulations and have adopted and implemented all the necessary operational procedures in order to meet the requirements of those regulations, such as Air emission compliance (NOx, SOx and CO2 reporting). We aim to provide top-quality services without neglecting to adjust for industry needs, always maintaining high ethical standards and abiding by all applicable laws, rules, regulations and standards. We focus on creating real and long-lasting opportunities while advocating for a balanced, sustainable approach to our business and pursuing continuous improvement of our operational capabilities.
Furthermore, we established a standardized and structured process to ensure completeness, consistency and accuracy in our monitoring and reporting process for the World wide, EU and UK Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) trading (IMO, Data Collection System (DCS), EU & UK MRV) as well as the relevant monitoring plans and advanced data collection, analysis, monitoring and reporting systems through our VPM system. As part of the data collection and key performance indicators’ calculation process we use our in-house developed VPM system, which provides accurate and real time information regarding the performance of our vessels. Additionally, with the introduction of IMO DCS,EU MRV, UK MRV, the reported CO2 emissions of our vessels are also subjected to third party verification by an independent accredited verifier.
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.
Apart from the above, our Company has also become certified according to the ISO 9001, 14001, 45001 and 50001 standards pertaining to compliance with elevated quality, environmental, occupational health and safety and energy efficiency requirements, thus increasing the requirements our vessels and management company have to comply with on various levels. In addition, RightShip, which is a voluntary compliance requirement but a highly desirable chartering verifier among top charterers, is also demanding compliance with their standards regarding environmental acceptability based on a number of variables and factors important in the maritime industry.
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 ensure that the operation of our vessels is in full compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations and that our vessels have all material permits, licenses, certificates or other authorizations necessary for carrying out 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 and herein as “MARPOL”, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974 (“SOLAS Convention”), and the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966 (the “LL Convention”). MARPOL establishes environmental standards relating to oil leakage or spilling, garbage management, sewage, air emissions, handling and disposal of noxious liquids and the handling of harmful substances in packaged forms. MARPOL is applicable to dry bulk, tanker and LNG carriers, among other vessels, and is broken into six Annexes, each of which regulates a different source of pollution. Annex I relates to oil leakage or spilling; Annexes II and III relate to harmful substances carried in bulk in liquid or in packaged form, respectively; Annexes IV and V relate to sewage and garbage management, respectively; and Annex VI, lastly, relates to air emissions. Annex VI was separately adopted by the IMO in September of 1997; new 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 from 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 ensure that all of our vessels are in full compliant in all material respects with these regulations.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee, or “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 3.5%) starting from January 1, 2020. This limitation can be met by using low-sulfur compliant fuel oil, alternative fuels or certain exhaust gas cleaning systems. Ships are now required to obtain bunker delivery notes and International Air Pollution Prevention (“IAPP”) Certificates from their flag states that specify sulfur content. Additionally, at MEPC 73, amendments to Annex VI to prohibit the carriage of bunkers above 0.5% sulfur on ships were adopted and took effect March 1, 2020, with the exception of vessels fitted with exhaust gas cleaning equipment (“scrubbers”) which can carry fuel of higher sulfur content. These regulations subject ocean-going vessels to stringent emissions controls and may cause us to incur substantial costs.
Sulfur content standards are even stricter within certain “Emission Control Areas,” or (“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 Sea area. Ocean-going vessels in these areas will be subject to stringent emission controls and may cause us to incur additional costs. Other areas in China are subject to local regulations that impose stricter emission controls. In December 2021, the member states of the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (“Barcelona Convention”) agreed to support the designation of a new ECA in the Mediterranean. The group plans to submit a formal proposal to the IMO by the end of 2022 with the goal of having the ECA implemented by 2025. If other ECAs are approved by the IMO, or other new or more stringent requirements relating to emissions from marine diesel engines or port operations by vessels are adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) or the states where we operate, compliance with these regulations could entail significant capital expenditures or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.
Amended Annex VI also establishes new tiers of stringent nitrogen oxide emissions standards for marine diesel engines, depending on their date of installation. At the MEPC meeting held from March to April 2014, amendments to Annex VI were adopted which address the date on which Tier III Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) standards in ECAs will go into effect. Under the amendments, Tier III NOx standards apply to ships that operate in the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea ECAs designed for the control of NOx produced by vessels with a marine diesel engine installed and constructed on or after January 1, 2016. Tier III requirements could apply to areas that will be designated for Tier III NOx in the future. At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, the MEPC approved the North Sea and Baltic Sea as ECAs for nitrogen oxide for ships built on or after January 1, 2021. 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.
Further to the above, as of the September 1, 2020 it became mandatory to use fuel with max 0.1% Sulfur content while berthing in South Korean ports. There are specific requirements for the berthing process, and we are diligently complying with all of them. Moreover, from January 1, 2022 onwards, it is mandatory to use fuel with max 0.1% Sulfur content while navigating South Korea’s ECAs.
The second part of the Korean regulations have to do with speed reductions. The port areas selected will be designated as “Vessel Speed Reduction program Sea Areas” or “VSR program Sea Areas”. Each VSR program Sea Area will span 20 nautical miles in radius, measured from a specific lighthouse in each port. Ships should navigate no faster than a maximum speed of 12 knots for container ships and car-carriers and 10 knots for other ship types, when moving from starting point to an end point within a VSR program Sea Area.
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. In order to prove compliance with the above, our Company collects data, monitors the information received and is ready to report them though our VPM system.
As of January 1, 2013, MARPOL made mandatory certain measures relating to energy efficiency for ships. All ships are now required to develop and implement Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans (“SEEMP”), and new ships must be designed in compliance with minimum energy efficiency levels per capacity mile as defined by the Energy Efficiency Design Index (“EEDI”). Under these measures, by 2025, all new ships built will be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2014. 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 Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (“EEXI”), and (2) operational carbon intensity reduction requirements, based on a new operational carbon intensity indicator (“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 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 non-binding resolution which urges Member States and ship operators to voluntarily use distillate or other cleaner alternative fuels or methods of propulsion that are safe for ships and could contribute to the reduction of Black Carbon emissions from ships when operating in or near the Arctic.
Any vessels that will not meet this new EEXI requirement will need to adopt energy-saving/emission reducing technology, through retrofits, to reach compliant levels. This creates a vast array of implications for the shipping industry going forward. Recycling of older ships could accelerate as the investments to comply with regulations may be very costly. One of the most efficient ways of reducing emissions is reducing vessel speed power, this would in turn limit the supply. The Company owns one of the most modern and fuel-efficient fleets in the industry.
Maintaining and improving our position in respect of the above creates an extremely compelling outlook for our company in the next 2-5 years.
Our company has also become certified under the ISO 50001 standard for energy efficiency, which has caused our vessels to comply with even more requirements and to ensure that they are continuously improving their performance in order to satisfy these requirements. Compliance with ISO 50001 requires that we continuously improve our vessels’ energy performance, energy efficiency, energy use and consumption.
The majority of our fleet is fitted with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems, an equipment that reduces the sulfur air emission.
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.
Greenhouse Gas Regulation
Currently, the emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force in 2005 and pursuant to which adopting countries have been required to implement national programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with targets extended through 2020. International negotiations are continuing with respect to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, and restrictions on shipping emissions may be included in any new treaty. In December 2009, more than 27 nations, including the U.S. and China, signed the Copenhagen Accord, which includes a non-binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris resulted in the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016 and does not directly limit greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The U.S. initially entered into the agreement, but on June 1, 2017, former U.S. President Trump announced that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and the withdrawal became effective on November 4, 2020. On January 20, 2021, U.S. President Biden signed an executive order to rejoin the Paris Agreement, which the U.S. officially rejoined on February 19, 2021.
At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, a draft outline of the structure of the initial strategy for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships was approved. In accordance with this roadmap, in April 2018, nations at the MEPC 72 adopted an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The initial strategy identifies “levels of ambition” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including (1) decreasing the carbon intensity from ships through implementation of further phases of the EEDI for new ships; (2) reducing carbon dioxide emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 emission levels; and (3) reducing the total annual greenhouse emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 while pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. The initial strategy notes that technological innovation, alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the overall ambition. These regulations could cause additional substantial expenses to be incurred.
The EU made a unilateral commitment to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from its member states from 20% of 1990 levels by 2020. The EU also committed to reduce its emissions by 20% under the Kyoto Protocol’s second period from 2013 to 2020. Starting in January 2018, large ships over 5,000 gross tonnage calling at EU ports are required to collect and publish data on carbon dioxide emissions and other information. As further discussed herein, regulations relating to the inclusion of greenhouse gas 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 greenhouse gas emissions from certain mobile sources and proposed regulations to limit greenhouse gas 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 greenhouse gas emissions, and, further, 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.
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 ensure that our vessels are in full compliance with SOLAS. Owners’ compliance with LLMC requirements is covered under the Protection & Indemnity insurance.
Under Chapter IX of the SOLAS Convention, or the International Safety Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (the “ISM Code”), our operations are also subject to environmental standards and requirements. The ISM Code requires the party with operational control of a vessel to develop an extensive safety management system that includes, among other things, the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for operating its vessels safely and describing procedures for responding to emergencies. We rely upon the safety management system that 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. Our Company along with a number of vessels are certified under the 9001 & 14001 ISO standards, and as such, are fully compliant with the additional requirements and restrictions that have been set. We are committed to conducting our operations
systematically by following the requirements of the ISO 14001 striving to maintain ZERO Oil Spills and ZERO Marine and Pollution Atmospheric Incidents. Our Company is also committed to responding timely and effectively to environmental incidents resulting from our operations, respecting the environment by emphasizing every employee’s responsibility in environmental performance and fostering appropriate operating practices and training, managing our business with the goal of preventing environmental incidents and controlling emissions and wastes to below harmful levels, using energy, water, materials and other natural resources as efficiently as possible, giving particular regard to the long-term sustainability of consumable items and minimizing waste by reducing our waste generation.
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 certificates are required by the IMO. The document of compliance and safety management certificate are periodically reviewed and renewed as required.
Regulation II-1/3-10 of the SOLAS Convention governs ship construction and stipulates that ships over 150 meters in length must have adequate strength, integrity and stability to minimize risk of loss or pollution. Goal-based standards amendments in SOLAS regulation II-1/3-10 entered into force in 2012, with July 1, 2016 set for application to new oil tankers and bulk carriers. The SOLAS Convention regulation II-1/3-10 on goal-based ship construction standards for bulk carriers and oil tankers, which entered into force on January 1, 2012, requires that all oil tankers and bulk carriers of 150 meters in length and above, for which the building contract is placed on or after July 1, 2016, satisfy applicable structural requirements conforming to the functional requirements of the International Goal-based Ship Construction Standards for Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers (“GBS Standards”).
Amendments to the SOLAS Convention Chapter VII apply to vessels transporting dangerous goods and require those vessels be in compliance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (“IMDG Code”). Effective January 1, 2018, the IMDG Code includes (1) updates to the provisions for radioactive material, reflecting the latest provisions from the International Atomic Energy Agency, (2) new marking, packing and classification requirements for dangerous goods and (3) new mandatory training requirements. Amendments which took effect on January 1, 2020 also reflect the latest material from the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, including (1) new provisions regarding IMO type 9 tank, (2) new abbreviations for segregation groups, and (3) special provisions for carriage of lithium batteries and of vehicles powered by flammable liquid or gas. The upcoming amendments, which will come into force on June 1, 2022, include (1) addition of a definition of dosage rate, (2) additions to the list of high consequence dangerous goods, (3) new provisions for medical/clinical waste, (4) addition of various ISO standards for gas cylinders, (5) a new handling code, and (6) changes to stowage and segregation provisions.
The IMO has also adopted the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (“STCW”). As of February 2017, all seafarers are required to meet the STCW standards and be in possession of a valid STCW certificate. Flag states that have ratified SOLAS and STCW generally employ the classification societies, which have incorporated SOLAS and STCW requirements into their class rules, to undertake surveys to confirm compliance.
The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and MEPC, respectively, each adopted relevant parts of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Water (the “Polar Code”). The Polar Code, which entered into force on January 1, 2017, covers design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue as well as environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the waters surrounding the two poles. It also includes mandatory measures regarding safety and pollution prevention as well as recommendatory provisions. The Polar Code applies to new ships constructed after January 1, 2017, and after January 1, 2018, ships constructed before January 1, 2017 are required to meet the relevant requirements by the earlier of their first intermediate or renewal survey.
Furthermore, recent action by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and United States agencies indicates that cybersecurity regulations for the maritime industry are likely to be further developed in the near future in an attempt to combat cybersecurity threats. By IMO resolution, administrations are encouraged to ensure that cyber-risk management systems must be incorporated by ship-owners and managers no later than the first annual verification of
the Company’s Document of Compliance after 1 January 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. Our Company has already taken the necessary steps to ensure data integrity and full compliance both from the office side and on board our vessels. The company is in the process of becoming fully certified for ISO27001, with the first stage already completed. The vessels are being monitored under the existing cyber security requirements, required by the IMO as well as the additional best practices by other entities. Each vessel has a ship-specific cyber security plan, and its IT and OT systems have been inventoried, in order for the relevant hazards to be identified.
This ship specific plan has been developed for each vessel covering the requirements according to the updated regulations as well as additional precautions to be maintained on multiple accounts. Detailed pieces of information have been added, pertaining to the software and cyber security on board and additional measures have been taken to protect the integrity of our vessels. Specific policies have been developed to that effect, such as cyber-security, email usage, password, device, workstation policies, etc. Very specific guidelines have been provided to the Masters and crew members regarding their conduct when facing the authorities and what dos and don’ts should be adhered to, in order for the cyber requirements to be fulfilled at all times.
Pollution Control and Liability Requirements
The IMO has negotiated international conventions that impose liability for pollution in international waters and the territorial waters of the signatories to such conventions. For example, the IMO adopted an International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the “BWM Convention”) in 2004. The BWM Convention entered into force on September 8, 2017. The BWM Convention requires ships to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless or avoid the uptake or discharge of new or invasive aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments. The BWM Convention’s implementing regulations call for a phased introduction of mandatory ballast water exchange requirements, to be replaced in time with mandatory concentration limits, and require all ships to carry a ballast water record book and an international ballast water management certificate.
On December 4, 2013, the IMO Assembly passed a resolution revising the application dates of the BWM Convention so that the dates are triggered by the entry into force date and not the dates originally in the BWM Convention. This, in effect, makes all vessels delivered before the entry into force date “existing vessels” and allows for the installation of ballast water management systems on such vessels at the first International Oil Pollution Prevention (“IOPP”) renewal survey following entry into force of the convention. As part of our commitment to comply with the international regulation, we are progressively installing BWTS in our fleet.
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.
We have developed and implemented the required BWTS on the majority of our fleet and are in compliance with all the applicable regulations.
Once mid-ocean ballast exchange or ballast water treatment requirements become mandatory under the BWM Convention, the cost of compliance could increase for ocean carriers and may have a material effect on our operations. 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 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. Our vessels are all currently holders of these certificates issued by the respective flag administrations, based on the evidence of coverage issued by the respective P&I clubs.
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 EU authorities have indicated that vessels not in compliance with the ISM Code by applicable deadlines will be prohibited from trading in U.S. and EU ports, respectively. As of the date of this annual report, each of our vessels is ISM Code certified. 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 (“OPA”) established an extensive regulatory and liability regime for the protection and cleanup of the environment from oil spills. OPA affects all “owners and operators” whose vessels trade or operate within the U.S., its territories and possessions or whose vessels operate in U.S. waters, which includes the U.S.’s territorial sea and its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone around the U.S. The U.S. has also enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), which applies to the discharge of hazardous substances other than oil, except in limited circumstances, whether on land or at sea. OPA and CERCLA both define “owner and operator” in the case of a vessel as any person owning, operating or chartering by demise, the vessel. Both OPA and CERCLA impact our operations.
Under OPA, vessel owners and operators are “responsible parties” and are jointly, severally and strictly liable (unless the spill results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war) for all containment and clean-up costs and other damages arising from discharges or threatened discharges of oil from their vessels, including bunkers (fuel). OPA defines these other damages broadly to include:
|(i)||injury to, destruction or loss of, or loss of use of, natural resources and related assessment costs;|
|(ii)||injury to, or economic losses resulting from, the destruction of real and personal property;|
|(iii)||loss of subsistence use of natural resources that are injured, destroyed or lost;|
|(iv)||net loss of taxes, royalties, rents, fees or net profit revenues resulting from injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property, or natural resources;|
|(v)||lost profits or impairment of earning capacity due to injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property or natural resources; and|
|(vi)||net cost of increased or additional public services necessitated by removal activities following a discharge of oil, such as protection from fire, safety or health hazards, and loss of subsistence use of natural resources.|
OPA contains statutory caps on liability and damages; such caps do not apply to direct cleanup costs. Effective November 12, 2019, the USCG adjusted the limits of OPA liability for non-tank vessels, edible oil tank vessels, and any oil spill response vessels, to the greater of $1,200 per gross ton or $997,100 (subject to periodic adjustment for inflation). These limits of liability do not apply if an incident was proximately caused by the violation of an applicable U.S. federal safety, construction or operating regulation by a responsible party (or its agent, employee or a person acting pursuant to a contractual relationship) or a responsible party’s gross negligence or willful misconduct. The limitation on liability similarly does not apply if the responsible party fails or refuses to (i) report the incident as required by law where the responsible party knows or has reason to know of the incident; (ii) reasonably cooperate and assist as requested in connection with oil removal activities; or (iii) without sufficient cause, comply with an order issued under the Federal Water Pollution Act (Section 311 (c), (e)) or the Intervention on the High Seas Act.
CERCLA contains a similar liability regime whereby owners and operators of vessels are liable for cleanup, removal and remedial costs, as well as damages for injury to, or destruction or loss of, natural resources, including the reasonable costs associated with assessing the same, and health assessments or health effects studies. There is no liability if the discharge of a hazardous substance results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war. Liability under CERCLA is limited to the greater of $300 per gross ton or $5.0 million for vessels carrying a hazardous substance as cargo and the greater of $300 per gross ton or $500,000 for any other vessel. These limits do not apply (rendering the responsible person liable for the total cost of response and damages) if the release or threat of release of a hazardous substance resulted from willful misconduct or negligence, or the primary cause of the release was a violation of applicable safety, construction or operating standards or regulations. The limitation on liability also does not apply if the responsible person fails or refused to provide all reasonable cooperation and assistance as requested in connection with response activities where the vessel is subject to OPA.
OPA and CERCLA each preserve the right to recover damages under existing law, including maritime tort law. OPA and CERCLA both require owners and operators of vessels to establish and maintain with the USCG evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to meet the maximum amount of liability to which the particular responsible person may be subject. Vessel owners and operators may satisfy their financial responsibility obligations by providing a proof of insurance, a surety bond, qualification as a self-insurer or a guarantee. We comply and plan to comply going forward with the USCG’s financial responsibility regulations by providing applicable certificates of financial responsibility. All of our vessels arriving at U.S. or Canadian ports are covered under a COFR – Certificate 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 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 and its vessels that call at U.S. ports are all covered under the QI (Qualified Individual) and engagement with Witt O’Briens and their ongoing contract with the USCG which provide us with the latest updates and legislations and are in charge of updating our manuals pertaining to the relevant requirements. In addition, we are also covered through our contracts with the National Response Corporation for Oil Spill Response Organization purposes and with T&T Salvage, LLC for Salvage & Marine Fire-Fighting.
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 and results of operation.
Other United States Environmental Initiatives
The U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970 (including its amendments of 1977 and 1990) (“CAA”) requires the EPA to promulgate standards applicable to emissions of volatile organic compounds and other air contaminants. The CAA requires states to adopt State Implementation Plans, or “SIPs,” some of which regulate emissions resulting from vessel loading and unloading operations which may affect our vessels.
The U.S. Clean Water Act (“CWA”) prohibits the discharge of oil, hazardous substances and ballast water in U.S. navigable waters unless authorized by a duly-issued permit or exemption, and imposes strict liability in the form of penalties for any unauthorized discharges. The CWA also imposes substantial liability for the costs of removal, remediation and damages and complements the remedies available under OPA and CERCLA. In 2015, the EPA expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”), thereby expanding federal authority under the CWA. Following litigation on the revised WOTUS rule, in December 2018, the EPA and Department of the Army proposed a revised, limited definition of WOTUS. In 2019 and 2020, the agencies repealed the prior WOTUS Rule and promulgated the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”) which significantly reduced the scope and oversight of EPA and the Department of the Army in traditionally non-navigable waterways. On August 30, 2021, a federal district court in Arizona vacated the NWPR and directed the agencies to replace the rule. On December 7, 2021, the EPA and the Department of the Army proposed a rule that would reinstate the pre-2015 definition, which 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 Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (“VIDA”), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018 and replaces the 2013 Vessel General Permit (“VGP”) program (which authorizes discharges incidental to operations of commercial vessels and contains numeric ballast water discharge limits for most vessels to reduce the risk of invasive species in U.S. waters, stringent requirements for exhaust gas scrubbers, and requirements for the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants) and current Coast Guard ballast water management regulations adopted under the U.S. National Invasive Species Act (“NISA”), such as mid-ocean ballast exchange programs and installation of approved USCG technology for all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks bound for U.S. ports or entering U.S. waters. VIDA establishes a new framework for the regulation of vessel incidental discharges under Clean Water Act (CWA), requires the EPA to develop performance standards for those discharges within two years of enactment, and requires the U.S. Coast Guard to develop implementation, compliance and enforcement regulations within two years of EPA’s promulgation of standards. Under VIDA, all provisions of the 2013 VGP and USCG regulations regarding ballast water treatment remain in force and effect until the EPA and U.S. Coast Guard regulations are finalized. Non-military, non-recreational vessels greater than 79 feet in length must continue to comply with the requirements of the VGP, including submission of a Notice of Intent (“NOI”) or retention of a PARI form and submission of annual reports. All of our vessels submit their NOIs/eNOIs to the USCG and their flag administration accordingly within the required timeframes. 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 EU amended a directive to impose criminal sanctions for illicit ship-source discharges of polluting substances, including minor discharges, if committed with intent, recklessly or with serious negligence and the discharges individually or in the aggregate result in deterioration of the quality of water. Aiding and abetting the discharge of a polluting substance may also lead to criminal penalties. The directive applies to all types of vessels, irrespective of their flag, but certain exceptions apply to warships or where human safety or that of the ship is in danger. Criminal liability for pollution may result in substantial penalties or fines and increased civil liability claims. Regulation (EU) 2015/757 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 (amending EU Directive 2009/16/EC) governs the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport, and, subject to some exclusions, requires companies with ships over 5,000 gross tonnage to monitor and report carbon dioxide emissions annually, which may cause us to incur additional expenses.
The EU 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 EU 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 EU 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.
Our Company complies with the local Chinese regulations and requirements pertaining to the Ship Pollution Response Organization. This requires owners/operators of (a) any ship carrying polluting and hazardous cargoes in bulk or (b) any other vessel above 10,000 gt to enter into a pollution clean-up contract with a Maritime Safety Agency (“MSA”) approved Ship Pollution Response Organization before the vessel enters a Chinese port. We have established contractual agreements and are cooperating with our local representatives, to provide us the best in market options at each specific port. This practically applies to all the managed vessel within our fleets and means that we are getting high-quality service on a case by case basis, always obtaining the best price versus quality result that could be procured.
International Labor Organization
The International Labor 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. All of our vessels have been awarded an MLC certificate following the relevant MLC inspection carried out on board and they have been approved for DMLC Part II by the ROs/flag administration in compliance with the requirements set out in the DMLC Part I issued by the respective flag administrations accordingly.
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 U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (“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 International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (“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.
All of our vessels are already fully compliant with the ISPS code and have the International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC). Each vessel also has its own SSP (Ship Security Plan) which has been reviewed and approved by the RO/flag administration accordingly. In addition to the above, the company has also chosen to comply with BMP5 standard as best management practices and also provides additional security equipment (and armed guards, where required) on board whenever our vessels pass through areas of voluntary reporting or where there is high risk of piracy. Future security measures could also have a significant financial impact on us.
The cost of vessel security measures has also been affected by the escalation in the frequency of acts of piracy against ships, notably off the coast of Somalia, including the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea area. Substantial loss of revenue and other costs may be incurred as a result of detention of a vessel or additional security measures, and the risk of uninsured losses could significantly affect our business. Costs are incurred in taking additional security measures in accordance with Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy, notably those contained in the 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., Bureau Veritas, NKK, DNV-GL, American Bureau of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register of Shipping). Their respective Classification certificates have been issued by the vessel’s classification society following the initial survey carried out on board.
A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys, drydockings and special surveys. In lieu of a special survey, a vessel’s machinery may be on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period. Every vessel is also required to be drydocked every 30 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater parts of the vessel. If any vessel does not maintain its class and/or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey, drydocking or special survey, the vessel will be unable to carry cargo between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable which could cause us to be in violation of certain covenants in our loan agreements. Any such inability to carry cargo or be employed, or any such violation of covenants, could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Risk of Loss and Liability Insurance
The operation of any cargo vessel includes risks such as mechanical failure, physical damage, collision, property loss, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries, piracy incidents, hostilities and labor strikes. In addition, there is always an inherent possibility of marine disaster, including oil spills and other environmental mishaps, and the liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade. OPA, which imposes virtually unlimited liability upon shipowners, operators and bareboat charterers of any vessel trading in the exclusive economic zone of the United States for certain oil pollution accidents in the United States, has made liability insurance more expensive for shipowners and operators trading in the United States market. We carry insurance coverage as customary in the shipping industry. However, not all risks can be insured, specific claims may be rejected, and we might not be always able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates.
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$ 8.2 billion. As a member of a P&I Association, which is a member of the International Group, we are subject to calls payable to the associations based on our claim records as well as the claim records of all other members of the individual associations and members of the shipping pool of P&I Associations comprising the International Group.
Ensuring compliance with environmental regulations
Other aspects of our environmental compliance include:
|·||Refrigerant Allowance: We have banned all the types of refrigerants that significantly affect the ozone layer such as R22 in order to reduce the Global Warming Potential (GWP). Additionally, during possible maintenance activities both in our offices and on vessels, we use eco-friendly refrigerants that do not affect the ozone layer such as R407 and R404. In compliance with EU 517/2014 regulation, stipulating restriction to the use of refrigerants exceeding GWP of 2500, we are using eco-friendly refrigerants in 30% of our fleet and we expect that 100% of our fleet will have installed eco-friendly refrigerants within the next 5 years.|
|·||Biodegradable Lubricants: We are using these types of biodegradable lubricants proactively in the majority of our fleet regardless of their destination. Biodegradable lubricants are eco-friendly lubricants which are mandatory for vessels that transport cargo or have the United States as destination ports.|
|·||We had proactively taken immediate steps to comply in 2019 with certain provisions of EU regulation (1257/2013 on Ship recycling) that took effect on December 31, 2020. The regulation refers to vessel recycling activities and the identification and monitoring of hazardous materials, including:|
|o||Ozone depleting substances.|
|o||Anti-fouling systems containing organotin compounds as a biocide.|
We are also in the process of replacing Freon onboard. Our entire fleet complies with Hazardous Material regulation.
Dry-BMS (RightShip Standards)
This program is designed to allow ship managers to measure their SMS against agreed industry standards, with the aim of improving fleet performance and risk management. This will ensure that policies align with the industry’s best practice to both advance our vessels’ performance and attain high standards of health, safety, security and pollution prevention.
The draft guidelines focus on 30 areas of management practice across the four most serious risk areas faced in vessel operations: performance, people, plant and process. This grades the excellence of a company’s SMS against measurable expectations and targets without involving the burdens of excessive inspections. This standard is not meant to replace any pre-existing system or rule but rather to enhance their existing application and raise the levels of excellence achieved. The minimum benefits of this venture would a) cover all relevant ship management issues in one document, b) be relevant to the entire dry bulk shipping industry worldwide, c) complement other statutory requirements and industry guidance and d) be frequently evaluated to drive continuous improvement across the management companies on an international level.
C. Organizational structure
As of December 31, 2021, we are the sole owner of all of the outstanding shares of the subsidiaries listed in Note 1 of our consolidated financial statements under “Item 18. Financial Statements.”
D. Property, plant and equipment
We do not own any real property. Our interests in the vessels in our fleet are our only material properties. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—General.”
|Item 4A.||Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 5.||Operating and Financial Review and Prospects|
The following management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with “Item 4. Business Overview” and our historical consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included elsewhere in this annual report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current views with respect to future events and financial performance. Our actual results may differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors, such as those set forth in “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report.
We are an international shipping company with extensive operational experience that owns and operates a fleet of dry bulk carrier vessels. Our vessels transport a broad range of major and minor bulk commodities, including ores, coal, grains and fertilizers, along worldwide shipping routes.
A. Operating Results
We deploy our vessels on a mix of short to medium time charters or voyage charters, contracts of affreightment, or in dry bulk carrier pools, according to our assessment of market conditions. We adjust the mix of these charters to take advantage of the relatively stable cash flow and high utilization rates associated with medium to long-term time charters, or to profit from attractive spot charter rates during periods of strong charter market conditions, or to maintain employment flexibility that the spot market offers during periods of weak charter market conditions.
Key Performance Indicators
Our business consists primarily of:
|·||employment and operation of dry bulk vessels constituting our operating fleet; and|
|·||management of the financial, general and administrative elements involved in the conduct of our business and ownership of dry bulk vessels constituting our operating fleet.|
The employment and operation of our vessels require the following main components:
|·||vessel maintenance and repair;|
|·||crew selection and training;|
|·||vessel spares and stores supply;|
|·||contingency response planning;|
|·||onboard safety procedures auditing;|
|·||vessel insurance arrangement;|
|·||vessel security training and security response plans pursuant to the requirements of the ISPS Code;|
|·||obtaining ISM Code certification and audits for each vessel within the six months of taking over a vessel;|
|·||vessel hire management;|
|·||vessel surveying; and|
|·||vessel performance monitoring.|
The management of financial, general and administrative elements involved in the conduct of our business and ownership of our vessels requires the following main components:
|·||management of our financial resources, including banking relationships (i.e., administration of bank loans and bank accounts);|
|·||management of our accounting system and records and financial reporting;|
|·||administration of the legal and regulatory requirements affecting our business and assets; and|
|·||management of the relationships with our service providers and customers.|
The principal factors that affect our profitability, cash flows and shareholders’ return on investment include:
|·||charter rates and duration of our charters;|
|·||age, condition and specifications of our vessels|
|·||levels of vessel operating expenses;|
|·||depreciation and amortization expenses;|
|·||financing costs; and|
|·||fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.|
We believe that the important measures for analyzing trends in the results of operations consist of the following:
|·||Average number of vessels is the number of vessels that constituted our owned fleet for the relevant period, as measured by the sum of the number of days each operating vessel was part of our owned fleet during the period divided by the number of calendar days in that period.|
|·||Ownership days are the total number of calendar days each vessel in the fleet was owned by us for the relevant period, including vessels subject to sale and leaseback transactions and finance leases.|
|·||Available days for the fleet are the Ownership days after subtracting off-hire days for major repairs, dry docking or special or intermediate surveys and for vessels’ improvements and upgrades. The available days for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2021 were also decreased by off-hire days relating to disruptions in connection with crew changes as a result of COVID-19. Our method of computing Available Days may not necessarily be comparable to Available Days of other companies due to differences in methods of calculation.|
|·||Charter-in days are the total days that we charter-in vessels not owned by us.|
|·||Time charter equivalent rate. Represents the weighted average daily TCE rates of our operating fleet (including owned fleet and fleet under charter-in arrangements) (please refer below for its detailed calculation).|
|·||Daily operating expenses: Average daily operating expenses per vessel are calculated by dividing vessel operating expenses by Ownership days.|
The table below summarizes our recent financial information. We refer you to the notes to our consolidated financial statements for a discussion of the basis on which our consolidated financial statements are presented. The information provided below should be read in conjunction with “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” and the consolidated financial statements, related notes and other financial information included herein.
The historical results included below and elsewhere in this document are not necessarily indicative of the future performance of Star Bulk.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF OPERATIONS
(In thousands of U.S. Dollars, except per share and share data)
|Charter-in hire expenses||5,325||92,896||126,813||32,055||14,565|
|Vessel operating expenses||101,428||128,872||160,062||178,543||208,661|
|Dry docking expenses||4,262||8,970||57,444||23,519||30,986|
|General and administrative expenses||30,955||33,972||34,819||31,881||39,500|
|Provision for doubtful debts||—||722||1,607||373||629|
|(Gain)/ Loss on forward freight agreements and bunker swaps, net||841||447||(4,411)||(16,156)||
|Other operational loss||989||191||110||1,513||2,214|
|Other operational gain||(2,918)||—||(2,423)||(3,231)||(2,110)|
|(Gain)/Loss on time charter agreement termination||—||—||—||—||
|(Gain) / Loss on sale of vessels|
|Operating income / (loss)|
|Interest and finance costs||(50,458)||(73,715)||(87,617)||(69,555)||(56,036)|
|Interest and other income / (loss)||2,997||1,866||1,299||267||315|
|Gain / (loss) on interest rate swaps, net||246||707||—||—||—|
|Loss on debt extinguishment|
|Total other expenses, net|
|Income/ (Loss) before taxes and equity in income of investee||(9,628)||58,413||(16,146)||9,776||
|Income / (Loss) before equity in income of investee|
|Equity in income of investee|
|Net income / (loss)|
|Earnings / (loss) per share, basic||(0.16)||0.76||(0.17)||0.10||6.73|
|Earnings / (loss) per share, diluted||(0.16)||0.76||(0.17)||0.10||6.71|
|Weighted average number of shares outstanding, basic||63,034,394||77,061,227||93,735,549||96,128,173||
|Weighted average number of shares outstanding, diluted||63,034,394||77,326,111||93,735,549||96,281,389||
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET AND OTHER FINANCIAL
(In thousands of U.S. Dollars, except per share data)
|Cash and cash equivalents||257,911||204,921||117,819||183,211||450,285|
|Advances for vessels under construction and acquisition of vessels||48,574||59,900||—||—||
|Vessels and other fixed assets, net||1,775,081||2,656,108||2,965,527||2,877,119||3,013,038|
|Current liabilities (including current portion of long-term bank loans and short-term lease financing)||219,274||222,717||310,931||266,432||
|Total long-term bank loans including long term lease financing, excluding current portion, net of unamortized loan and lease issuance costs||789,878||1,226,744||1,330,420||1,321,116||
|8.00% 2019 Notes and 8.30% 2022 Notes, net of unamortized notes issuance costs||48,000||48,410||48,821||49,232||
|Total Shareholders’ equity||1,088,052||1,520,045||1,544,040||1,549,527||2,080,018|
|Total liabilities and shareholders’ equity||2,145,764||3,022,137||3,238,671||3,191,793||3,754,719|
|OTHER FINANCIAL DATA|
|Dividends declared (nil, nil, $0.05, $0.05 and $2.25)||—||—||4,804||4,804||
|Net cash provided by/(used in) operating activities||82,804||169,009||88,525||170,552||
|Net cash provided by/(used in) investing activities||(127,101)||(325,327)||(279,837)||(66,334)||
|Net cash provided by/(used in) financing activities||122,035||96,695||103,697||(34,949)||
|Average number of vessels||69.6||87.7||112.1||116.0||125.4|
|Total ownership days for fleet||25,387||32,001||40,915||42,456||45,759|
|Total available days for fleet||25,272||31,614||36,403||40,274||44,059|
|Charter-in days for fleet||428||5,089||6,843||1,414||571|
|AVERAGE DAILY RESULTS
(In U.S. Dollars)
|Time charter equivalent||10,366||13,796||13,027||11,789||26,978|
|Vessel operating expenses||3,995||4,027||3,912||4,205||4,560|
Time Charter Equivalent Rate (TCE rate)
Time charter equivalent rate (the “TCE rate”) represents the weighted average daily TCE rates of our operating fleet (including owned fleet and fleet under charter-in arrangements). TCE rate is a measure of the average daily net revenue performance of our vessels. Our method of calculating TCE rate is determined by dividing voyage revenues (net of voyage expenses, charter-in hire expense, amortization of fair value of above/below-market acquired time charter agreements and provision for onerous contracts, if any, as well as adjusted for the impact of realized gain/(loss) on forward freight agreements (“FFAs”) and bunker swaps) by Available days for the relevant time period. Available days do not include the Charter-in days as per the relevant definitions provided above. Voyage expenses primarily consist of port, canal and fuel costs that are unique to a particular voyage, which would otherwise be paid by the charterer under a time charter contract, as well as commissions. TCE rate is a standard shipping industry performance measure used primarily to compare period-to-period changes in a shipping company’s performance despite changes in the mix of charter types (i.e., voyage charters, time charters, bareboat charters and pool arrangements) under which its vessels may be employed between the periods. Our method of computing TCE rate may not necessarily be comparable to TCE rates of other companies due to differences in methods of calculation. The above reported TCE rates for the year ended December 31, 2017 were calculated excluding Star Logistics. We have excluded the revenues and expenses of Star Logistics because it was formed in October 2017, and its revenues and expenses had not yet normalized in that period, which obscure material trends of our TCE rates. As a result, we believe it is more informative to our investors to present the TCE rates excluding the revenues and expenses of Star Logistics for that period (December 31, 2017). The revenues and expenses of Star Logistics normalized in the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2019 and are included for purposes of calculating the TCE rate. In 2020, we terminated our Geneva-based commercial activities and have established a new wholly-owned subsidiary based in Singapore under the name Star Bulk (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (or “Star Bulk Singapore”), aiming to expand our commercial capability and access to charterers and cargoes in Asia. We include TCE rate, a non-GAAP measure, as it provides additional meaningful information in conjunction with voyage revenues, the most directly comparable GAAP measure, and it assists our management in making decisions regarding the deployment and use of our operating vessels and assists investors and our management in evaluating our financial performance.
The following table reflects the calculation and reconciliation of TCE rate to voyage revenues as reflected in the consolidated statement of operations:
|(In thousands of U.S. Dollars, except for TCE rates)|
|Voyage revenues||$ 821,365||$ 693,241||$1,427,423|
|Charter-in hire expenses||(126,813)||(32,055)||(14,565)|
|Realized gain/(loss) on FFAs/bunker swaps||4,657||14,861||2,056|
|Amortization of fair value of below/above market acquired time charter agreements||(2,013)||(1,184)||(187)|
|Time charter equivalent revenues||$ 474,234||$ 474,805||$ 1,188,616|
|Daily Time Charter Equivalent Rate (“TCE”)||
Voyage revenues are driven primarily by the number of vessels in our operating fleet, the duration of our charters, the number of charter in days, the amount of daily charter hire or freight rates that our vessels earn under time and voyage charters, respectively, which, in turn, are affected by a number of factors, including our decisions relating to vessel acquisitions and disposals, the number of vessels chartered-in, the amount of time that we spend positioning our vessels, the amount of time that our vessels spend in dry dock undergoing repairs, maintenance and upgrade work, the age, condition and specifications of our vessels, levels of supply and demand in the seaborne transportation market.
Vessels operating on time charters for a certain period of time provide more predictable cash flows over that period of time but can yield lower profit margins than vessels operating in the spot charter market during periods characterized by favorable market conditions. Vessels operating in the spot charter market generate revenues that are less predictable, but may enable us to capture increased profit margins during periods of improvements in charter rates, although we would be exposed to the risk of declining vessel rates, which may have a materially adverse impact on our financial performance. If we employ vessels on period time charters, future spot market rates may be higher or lower than the rates at which we have employed our vessels on period time charters.
Voyage expenses may include port and canal charges, agency fees, fuel (bunker) expenses and brokerage commissions payable to related and third parties. Voyage expenses are incurred for our owned and chartered-in vessels during voyage charters or when the vessel is unemployed. Bunker expenses, port and canal charges primarily increase in periods during which vessel are employed on voyage charters because these expenses are paid by the owners. Our voyage expenses primarily consist of bunkers cost, port expenses and commissions paid in connection with the chartering of our vessels.
Charter-in hire expenses
Charter-in hire expenses represent hire expenses for chartering-in third- and related- party vessels, either under time charters or voyage charters.
Vessel Operating Expenses
Vessel operating expenses include crew wages and related costs, the cost of insurance and vessel registry, expenses relating to repairs and maintenance, the cost of spares and consumable stores, tonnage taxes, regulatory fees, vessel scrubbers and BWTS maintenance expenses, lubricants and other miscellaneous expenses. Other factors beyond our control, some of which may affect the shipping industry in general, including for instance developments relating to market prices for crew wages, lubricants and insurance, may also cause these expenses to increase.
Dry Docking Expenses
Dry docking expenses relate to regularly scheduled intermediate survey or special survey dry docking necessary to preserve the quality of our vessels as well as to comply with international shipping standards and environmental laws and regulations. Dry docking expenses can vary according to the age of the vessel and its condition, the location where the dry docking takes place, shipyard availability and the number of days the vessel is under dry dock. We utilize the direct expense method, under which we expense all dry-docking costs as incurred.
We depreciate our vessels on a straight-line basis over their estimated useful lives, which is determined to be 25 years from the date of their initial delivery from the shipyard. Depreciation is calculated based on a vessel’s cost less the estimated residual value.
General and Administrative Expenses
We incur general and administrative expenses, including our onshore personnel related expenses, directors’ and executives’ compensation, share based compensation, legal, consulting, audit and accounting expenses.
Management fees include fees paid to third parties as well as related parties providing certain procurement services to our fleet.
Interest and Finance Costs
We incur interest expense and financing costs in connection with our outstanding indebtedness under our existing loan facilities (including sale and leaseback financing transactions). We also incur financing costs in connection with establishing those facilities, which are presented as a direct deduction from the carrying amount of the relevant debt liability and amortize them to interest and financing costs over the term of the underlying obligation using the effective interest method.
Gain/(loss) on interest rate swaps, net
We enter into interest rate swap transactions to manage interest costs and risk associated with changing interest rates with respect to our variable interest loans and credit facilities. Interest rate swaps are recorded in the balance sheet as either assets or liabilities, measured at their fair value (Level 2) with changes in such fair value recognized in earnings under (gain)/loss on interest rate swaps, net, unless specific hedge accounting criteria are met. When interest rate swaps are designated and qualify as cash flow hedges, the effective portion of the unrealized gains/losses from those swaps is recorded in Other Comprehensive Income / (Loss) while any ineffective portion is recorded as Gain/(loss) on interest rate swaps, net.
Gain/(Loss) on Forward Freight Agreements and Bunker Swaps, net
When deemed appropriate from a risk management perspective, we take positions in freight derivatives, including freight forward agreements (the “FFAs”) and freight options with an objective to utilize those instruments as economic hedges that are highly effective in reducing the risk on specific vessels trading in the spot market and to take advantage of short term fluctuations in the market prices. Upon the settlement, if the contracted charter rate is less than the average of the rates, as reported by an identified index, for the specified route and time period, the seller of the FFA is required to pay the buyer the settlement sum, being an amount equal to the difference between the contracted rate and the settlement rate, multiplied by the number of days in the specified period covered by the FFA. Conversely, if the contracted rate is greater than the settlement rate, the buyer is required to pay the seller the settlement sum. Our FFAs are settled on a daily basis mainly through reputable exchanges such as London Clearing House (LCH) or Singapore Exchange (SGX) so as to limit our exposure in over the counter transactions. Customary requirements for trading in FFAs include the maintenance of initial and variation margins based on expected volatility, open position and mark to market of the contracts. Freight options are treated as assets/liabilities until they are settled. Any such settlements by us or settlements to us under FFAs are recorded under (Gain)/Loss on forward freight agreements and bunker swaps, net.
Also, when deemed appropriate from a risk management perspective, we enter into bunker swap contracts to manage our exposure to fluctuations of bunker prices associated with the consumption of bunkers by our vessels. Bunker swaps are agreements between two parties to exchange cash flows at a fixed price on bunkers, where volume, time period and price are agreed in advance. Our bunker swaps are settled through reputable clearing houses. Bunker price differentials paid or received under the swap agreements are recognized under (Gain)/Loss on forward freight agreements and bunker swaps, net.
The fair value of freight derivatives and bunker swaps is determined through Level 1 inputs of the fair value hierarchy (quoted prices from the applicable exchanges such as the London Clearing House (LCH) or the Singapore Exchange (SGX)). Our FFAs and bunker swaps do not qualify for hedge accounting and therefore unrealized gains or losses are recognized under (Gain)/Loss on forward freight agreements and bunker swaps, net.
We earn interest income on our cash deposits with our lenders and other financial institutions.
Foreign Exchange Fluctuations
Please see “Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk.”
Year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020
Voyage revenues net of Voyage expenses: Voyage revenues for the year ended December 31, 2021 increased to $1,427.4 million from $693.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 primarily as a result of the strong market conditions in charter rates prevailing during the year of 2021. In particular, the strong global growth and increased infrastructure spending has led to a healthy rise in demand for commodities which combined with a historically low orderbook and port delays and congestion created favorable dynamics for our industry. As a result, the TCE rate for the year ended December 31, 2021 was $26,978 compared to $11,789 for the year ended December 31, 2020.
Charter-in hire expenses: Charter-in hire expenses for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 were $14.6 million and $32.1 million, respectively. The decrease is due to the significant reduction in charter-in days which totaled 571 in the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to 1,414 in the same period in 2020.
Operating expenses: For the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, vessel operating expenses were $208.7 million and $178.5 million, respectively. This increase was primarily due to the increase in the average number of vessels to 125.4 from 116.0 and to additional crew expenses incurred related to the increased number and cost of crew changes performed, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions imposed since the beginning of 2020, estimated to be $8.4 million in 2021 compared to $3.5 million in 2020. In addition, vessel operating expenses for the year ended December 31, 2021 also included maintenance expenses for vessel scrubbers and BWTS of $4.2 million compared to $3.4 million in 2020. Lastly, vessel operating expenses for the year ended December 31, 2021 included $3.1 million pre-delivery and pre-joining expenses incurred in connection with the latest delivered vessels compared to nil in 2020.
Dry docking expenses: Dry docking expenses for the year ended December 31, 2021, were $31.0 million corresponding to 30 of our vessels that underwent their periodic dry docking surveys. Dry docking expenses for the year ended December 31, 2020 were $23.5 million corresponding to 26 of our vessels that underwent their periodic dry docking surveys.
Depreciation: For the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, depreciation expense increased to $152.6 million from $142.3 million due to the increase in the average number of vessels.
General and administrative expenses and Management fees: General and administrative expenses for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 were $39.5 million and $31.9 million, respectively. The increase is mainly attributable to the increase in the share-based compensation expense to $10.3 million from $4.6 million. Management fees for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 were $19.5 million and $18.4 million, respectively.
(Gain)/Loss on forward freight agreements and bunker swaps, net: For the year ended December 31, 2021, we incurred a net gain on forward freight agreements and bunker swaps of $3.6 million, consisting of unrealized gain of $1.5 million and realized gain of $2.1 million. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we incurred a net gain on forward freight agreements and bunker swaps of $16.2 million, consisting of unrealized gain of $1.3 million and realized gain of $14.9 million.
Interest and finance costs net of interest and other income/ (loss): Interest and finance costs net of interest and other income/(loss) for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 were $55.7 million and $69.3 million, respectively. This decrease is primarily attributable to the decline in the average interest rate on our outstanding indebtedness, mainly driven by the refinancing of certain of our debt agreements and the redemption of our outstanding 8.30% Senior Notes in July 2021, which also result in lower weighted average outstanding debt balance during the corresponding periods, the interest rate swap agreements that we entered into in 2020 and 2021 and the lower LIBOR rates that prevailed during 2021 compared to 2020.
Loss on debt extinguishment: For the year ended December 31, 2021, loss on debt extinguishment was $3.3 million which primarily consists of $3.6 million written off unamortized debt issuance costs following the refinancing agreements entered into during the year. For the year ended December 31, 2020, loss on debt extinguishment was $4.9 million and comprised of: (a) $3.7 million in connection with the write-off of unamortized debt issuance costs following the refinancing agreements entered into during the year and (b) $1.2 million in connection with prepayment fees for facilities refinanced or repaid as a result of the sale of mortgaged vessels.
Year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the year ended December 31, 2019
For a discussion of the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, please refer to “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” in our Annual Report on Form 20-F, as amended, for the year ended December 31, 2020, or our “2020 20-F”.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
For recent accounting pronouncements see Note 2 to our consolidated financial statements.
B. Liquidity and Capital Resources
Our principal sources of funds have been cash flow from operations, equity offerings, borrowings under secured credit facilities, debt securities or bareboat lease financings and proceeds from vessel sales. Our principal uses of funds have been capital expenditures to establish, grow our fleet, maintain the quality of our dry bulk carriers and comply with international shipping standards, environmental laws and regulations, fund working capital requirements, make principal and interest payments on outstanding indebtedness and to make dividend payments when approved by the Board of Directors.
Our short-term liquidity requirements include paying operating costs, funding working capital requirements and the short-term equity portion of the cost of vessel acquisitions and vessel upgrades, interest and principal payments on outstanding indebtedness and maintaining cash reserves to strengthen our position against adverse fluctuations in operating cash flows. Our primary source of short-term liquidity is cash generated from operating activities, available cash balances and portions from new debt and refinancings as well as equity financings.
Our medium- and long-term liquidity requirements are funding the equity portion of our newbuilding vessel installments and secondhand vessel acquisitions, if any, funding required payments under our vessel financing and other financing agreements and paying cash dividends when declared. Sources of funding for our medium- and long-term liquidity requirements include cash flows from operations, new debt and refinancings or bareboat lease financing, sale and lease back arrangements, equity issuances and vessel sales. Please also refer to Note 14 to our audited consolidated financial statements included in this annual report for further discussion on our commitments as of December 31, 2021.
As of February 16, 2022, we had total cash of $593.7 million and $1,532.5 million of outstanding borrowings (including bareboat lease financing). In addition, following a number of interest rates swaps that we entered into during the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2021, we have converted a total of $841.4 million of such debt from floating to an average fixed rate of 45 bps with average maturity of 2.1 years. We believe that our current cash balance, and our operating cash flows to be generated over the short-term period will be sufficient to meet our 2022 liquidity needs and at least through the end of the first quarter of 2023, including funding the operations of our fleet, capital expenditure requirements and any other present financial requirements. However, we may seek additional indebtedness to finance future vessel acquisitions in order to maintain our cash position or to refinance our existing debt in more favorable terms. Our practice has been to fund the cash portion of the acquisition of dry bulk carriers using a combination of funds from operations and bank debt or lease financing secured by mortgages or title of ownership on our dry bulk carriers held by the relevant lenders, respectively. Our business is capital-intensive and its future success will depend on our ability to maintain a high-quality fleet through the acquisition of newer dry bulk carriers and the selective sale of older dry bulk carriers. These acquisitions will be principally subject to management’s expectation of future market conditions as well as our ability to acquire dry bulk carriers on favorable terms. However our ability to obtain bank or lease financing, to refinance our existing debt or to access the capital markets for offerings in the future, may be limited by our financial condition at the time of any such financing or offering, including the market value of our fleet, as well as by adverse market conditions resulting from, among other things, general economic conditions, weakness in the financial and equity markets and contingencies and uncertainties, that are beyond our control.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic. In response to the outbreak, many countries, ports and organizations, including those where we conduct a large part of our operations, have implemented measures to combat the outbreak, such as quarantines and travel restrictions. These measures have resulted in a significant reduction in global economic activity and extreme volatility in the global financial markets. There continues to be a high level of uncertainty relating to how the pandemic will evolve, including the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, which appears to be the most transmissible variant to date, the availability of vaccines and their global deployment, the development of effective treatments, the imposition of effective public safety and other protective measures and the public's and government's responses to such measures. At present, it is not possible to ascertain any future impact of COVID-19 on the Company’s operational and financial performance, which may take some time to materialize and may not be fully reflected in the Company’s results for 2020 and 2021. The recent reopening of the global economy and consequent increased demand across all key dry bulk commodities has positively affected our revenues. On the other hand, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions imposed since 2020, additional crew expenses were incurred. However, an increase in the severity or duration or a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic and any significant disruption of wide-scale vaccine distribution could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, the carrying value of the Company’s assets, the fair values of the Company’s vessels, and the Company’s ability to pay dividends.
Cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2021 were $450.3 million, compared to $183.2 million as of December 31, 2020. We define working capital as current assets minus current liabilities, including the current portion of long-term bank loans and lease financing. Our working capital surplus as of December 31, 2021 and 2020 was $392.1 million and $41.0 million, respectively. The increase in working capital surplus is primarily attributable to the significantly improved market conditions.
As of December 31, 2021 and 2020, we were required to maintain minimum liquidity, not legally restricted, of $64.0 million and $58.0 million, respectively, which is included within “Cash and cash equivalents” in the 2021 and 2020 balance sheets, respectively. In addition, as of December 31, 2021 and 2020, we were required to maintain minimum liquidity, legally restricted, of $23.0 million and of $12.3 million, respectively, which is included within “Restricted cash” in the 2021 and 2020 balance sheets, respectively.
Year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020
Net Cash Provided By / (Used In) Operating Activities
Net cash provided by operating activities for the twelve months ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 was $767.1 million and $170.6 million, respectively. The increase is primarily attributable to the increase in our operating income (excluding non-cash items) following the significantly improved market conditions that prevailed in 2021 compared to 2020 and the lower net interest expense following the refinancing of certain of our debt agreements, the interest rate swap agreements that we entered into during 2020 and 2021 and the lower LIBOR rates during the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.
Net Cash Provided By / (Used In) Investing Activities
Net cash used in investing activities for the year ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 was $121.3 million and $66.3 million, respectively. The increase was primarily attributable to cash paid in 2021 in connection with the acquisition of vessels as opposed to no vessel acquisitions in 2020, which increase was partly offset by lower capital expenditures for BWTS and scrubbers paid in 2021 compared to relevant payments in 2020.
Net Cash Provided By / (Used In) Financing Activities
Net cash used in financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2021 was $368.1 million and net cash provided by financing activities was $34.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. The increase was primarily driven by higher debt repayments and prepayments compared to debt proceeds in 2021 as compared to 2020 as well as the higher dividend payments made in 2021 compared to the corresponding period in 2020.
Year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the year ended December 31, 2019
For a discussion of the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, please refer to “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” in our 2020 20-F.
Senior Secured Credit Facilities
|1.||NBG $30.0 million Facility|
On April 19, 2018, we entered into a loan agreement with the National Bank of Greece (the “NBG $30.0 million Facility”) for the refinancing of the then existing agreement with Commerzbank AG (the “Commerzbank $120.0 million Facility”). On May 3, 2018, we drew $30.0 million under the NBG $30.0 million Facility, which we used along with cash on hand to fully repay the $34.7 million outstanding under the Commerzbank $120.0 million Facility. The NBG $30.0 million Facility was set to mature in February 2023. During 2019, we prepaid $16.3 million in connection with the sale of four vessels under the NBG $30.0 million Facility and the quarterly installments were amended to $0.4 million and the final balloon payment, which is payable together with the last installment, was amended to $4.5 million. In 2021 we fully repaid this facility through own funds. Prior to its repayment the NBG $30.0 million Facility was secured by a first priority mortgage on the vessels Star Theta and Star Iris.
|2.||Credit Agricole $43.0 million Facility|
On August 21, 2018, we entered into a loan agreement with Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (the “Credit Agricole $43.0 million Facility”) for a loan of $43.0 million to refinance the outstanding amount of $44.1 million under the then existing agreement with Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (the “Credit Agricole $70.0 million Facility). The facility was secured by the vessels Star Borealis and Star Polaris. The Credit Agricole $43.0 million Facility was drawn on August 23, 2018 in two equal tranches, each being repayable in 20 equal quarterly installments of $0.6 million and a balloon payment of $9.0 million payable together with the last installment. The Credit Agricole $43.0 million Facility was refinanced in 2021 using part of the funds received under the DNB $107.5 million Facility, as described below. Prior to its repayment the loan was secured by a first priority mortgage on the two aforementioned vessels.
|3.||HSBC $80.0 million Facility|
On September 26, 2018, we entered into a loan agreement with HSBC Bank plc for a loan of $80.0 million (the “HSBC $80.0 million Facility”) to refinance the aggregate outstanding amount of $74.7 million under the then existing agreement with HSH Nordbank (the “HSH Nordbank $64.5 million Facility”) and with HSBC Bank plc (the “HSBC $86.6 million Facility”). The amount of $80.0 million was drawn on September 28, 2018. During 2019, an amount of $7.5 million was prepaid in connection with the sale of two vessels under the HSBC $80.0 million Facility and the quarterly installments were amended to $2.1 million and the final balloon payment, which is payable together with the last installment in August 2023, was amended to $29.1 million. As of December 31, 2021, the facility is secured by the vessels Kymopolia, Mercurial Virgo, Pendulum, Amami, Madredeus, Star Emily, Star Omicron, and Star Zeta.
|4.||DNB $310.0 million Facility|
On September 27, 2018, we entered into a loan agreement with DNB Bank ASA (the “DNB $310.0 million Facility”) for a loan of $310.0 million, a tranche of $240.0 million of which refinanced all amounts outstanding under a (i) ABN AMRO (the “ABN $87.5 million Facility”), (ii) DNB, SEB and CEXIM (the “DNB-SEB-CEXIM $227.5 million Facility”), (iii) DNB (the “DNB $120.0 million Facility”), (iv) Deutsche Bank AG (the “Deutsche Bank AG $39.0 million Facility”) and (v) ABN AMRO Bank N.V. (the “ABN AMRO Bank N.V $30.8 million Facility”). The $240.0 million tranche was drawn down on September 28, 2018. During 2019 and 2020, an aggregate amount of $51.2 million and $18.8 million, respectively, was drawn from the second tranche of $70.0 million, which was used to finance the acquisition and installation of scrubber equipment for the mortgaged vessels under the DNB $310.0 million Facility. The DNB $310.0 million Facility was set to mature in September 2023. During 2020, an amount of $131.1 million, in aggregate, from both tranches, was prepaid, in connection with the refinancing of the vessels Star Sirius, Star Vega, Gargantua, Goliath, Maharaj, Diva, Star Charis, Star Suzanna and Star Gina 2GR with proceeds received from the sale and lease back transactions with China Merchants Bank Leasing or (“CMBL”) and ICBC Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. and from the CEXIM $57.6 million Facility, as further described below. The quarterly installments of the first tranche were amended to $4.0 million and the final balloon payment, which is payable together with the last installment, was amended to $30.2 million. The quarterly installments of the second tranche were amended to $1.8 million, and the final balloon payment, which is payable together with the last installment, was amended to $10.7 million. The DNB $310.0 million Facility was repaid in 2021 in connection with a drawdown of $125.0 million under the NBG $125.0 million Facility, as described below. Prior to its repayment, the DNB $310,000 Facility was secured by a first priority mortgage on the vessels Big Bang, Strange Attractor, Big Fish, Pantagruel, Star Nasia, Star Danai, Star Renee, Star Markella, Star Laura, Star Moira, Star Jennifer, Star Mariella, Star Helena, Star Maria, Star Triumph, Star Angelina and Star Gwyneth.
|5.||Citibank $130.0 million Facility|
On October 18, 2018, we entered into a loan agreement with Citibank N.A., London Branch (the “Citi $130.0 million Facility”) for a loan of approximately $130.0 million to refinance in full the approximately $100.1 million outstanding under the then existing facility with Citibank, N.A., London Branch (“Citi Facility) and the existing indebtedness of five of the Augustea Vessels. The amount under Citi $130.0 million Facility was available in two equal tranches of $65.0 million, which were drawn on October 23, 2018 and November 5, 2018. Each tranche is repayable in 20 equal quarterly installments of $1.83 million, commencing in January 2019, and a balloon payment along with the last installment in an amount of $28.5 million. The Citi $130.0 million Facility was repaid in 2021 in connection with a drawdown of $97.1 million under the ABN AMRO $97.1 million Facility, as described below. Prior to its repayment the facility was secured by a first priority mortgage on the vessels Star Pauline, Star Angie, Star Sophia, Star Georgia, Star Kamila and Star Nina and five of the Augustea Vessels, Star Eva, Star Paola, Star Aphrodite, Star Lydia and Star Nicole.
|6.||ABN $115.0 million Facility|
On December 17, 2018, we entered into a loan agreement with ABN AMRO BANK (the “ABN $115.0 million Facility”), for an amount of up to $115.0 million available in four tranches. The first and the second tranche of $69.5 million and $7.9 million, respectively, were drawn on December 20, 2018. The first tranche was used to refinance the then existing indebtedness of the vessels Star Virginia, Star Scarlett, Star Jeannette and Star Audrey and the second tranche was used to partially finance the acquisition cost of the Star Bright. The first and the second tranche are repayable in 20 equal quarterly installments of $1.7 million and $0.3 million respectively, and balloon payments are due in December 2023 along with the last installment in an amount of $35.4 million and $2.3 million, respectively. The remaining two tranches of $17.9 million each were drawn in January 2019 and were used to partially finance the acquisition cost of the Star Marianne and Star Janni. Each of the third and the fourth tranche is repayable in 19 equal quarterly installments of $0.7 million and balloon payment due in December 2023 along with the last installment in an amount of $5.1 million. The loan is secured by a first priority mortgage on the aforementioned vessels.
BNP Paribas provided term loan financing in two tranches, for the vessels Star Despoina and Star Piera (the “BNP Facility”). On August 3, 2018, the date of the acquisition of the Augustea Vessels, the outstanding amount of the first and the second tranche was $15.9 million and $15.0 million, respectively. The outstanding balance of the first tranche is repayable in 16 remaining quarterly installments, the first 15 of which are in an amount of $0.5 million and the sixteenth is in an amount of $8.4 million. The outstanding balance of the second tranche is repayable in 17 remaining quarterly installments, the first 16 of which are in an amount of $0.5 million and the seventeenth is in an amount of $7.0 million. The BNP Facility was refinanced in 2021, using part of the funds received under the Credit Agricole $62.0 million Facility, as described below. Prior to its repayment the loan was secured by a first priority mortgage on the two Augustea Vessels.
|8.||Bank of Tokyo Facility|
Bank of Tokyo provided term loan financing for the vessel Star Monica (the “Bank of Tokyo Facility”). On August 3, 2018, the date of the acquisition of the Augustea Vessels, the outstanding amount of the Bank of Tokyo Facility was $16.0 million and is repayable in 17 remaining quarterly installments the first sixteen of which are in the amount of $0.3 million and the seventeenth is in an amount of $10.5 million. The Bank of Tokyo Facility was refinanced in 2021 using part of the funds received under the DNB $107.5 million Facility, as described below. Prior to its repayment the loan was secured by a first priority mortgage on Star Monica.
On January 28, 2019, we entered into a loan agreement with Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB), the “SEB Facility,” for the financing of an amount up to $71.4 million. The facility is available in four tranches. The first two tranches of $32.8 million each, were drawn on January 30, 2019 and used together with cash on hand to refinance the outstanding amounts under the then existing lease agreements of the vessels Star Laetitia and the Star Sienna. Each tranche matures six years after the drawdown date and is repayable in 24 consecutive, quarterly principal payments of $0.7 million for each of the first 10 quarters and of $0.5 million for each of the remaining 14 quarters, and a balloon payment of $18.7 million payable simultaneously with the last quarterly installment, which is due in January 2025.The remaining two tranches of approximately $1.3 million each, were drawn in September 2019 and March 2020, respectively and were used to finance the acquisition and installation of scrubber equipment for the respective vessels. Both tranches are repayable in 12 equal consecutive quarterly installments. The SEB Facility is secured by a first priority mortgage on the two vessels.
|10.||E. SUN Facility|
On January 31, 2019, we entered into a loan agreement with E. SUN Commercial Bank, Hong Kong branch, the (“E.SUN Facility”), for the financing of an amount of up to $37.1 million which was used to refinance the outstanding amount under the then existing lease agreement of the vessel Star Ariadne. On March 1, 2019, we drew the amount of $37.1 million, which is repayable in 20 consecutive, quarterly principal payments of $0.6 million plus a balloon payment of $24.7 million payable simultaneously with the last quarterly installment, which is due in March 2024. The E.SUN Facility is secured by a first priority mortgage on the vessel Star Ariadne.
On February 28, 2019, we entered into a loan agreement with ABN AMRO Bank N.V. (the “Atradius Facility”) for the financing of an amount of up to $36.6 million which was be used to finance the acquisition and installation of scrubber equipment for 42 vessels. The financing is credit insured (85%) by Atradius Dutch State Business N.V. of the Netherlands (the “Atradius”). During 2019, three tranches of $33.3 million, in aggregate, were drawn and the last tranche of $3.3 million was drawn in January 2020. In September 2021, we prepaid an amount of $2.0 million, in connection with the vessels Star Despoina and Star Piera and the remaining six semi-annual installments were amended to $3.3 million, with the last installment due in June 2024.As of December 31, 2021 the Atradius Facility was secured by a second-priority mortgage on 20 vessels of our fleet.
|12.||Citibank $62.6 million Facility|
On May 8, 2019, we entered into a loan agreement with Citibank N.A., London Branch (the “Citibank $62.6 million Facility”). In May 2019, an amount of $62.6 million was drawn, which was used, together with cash on hand, to refinance the outstanding amounts under the then existing lease agreements of the vessels Star Virgo and Star Marisa. The facility is repayable in 20 quarterly principal payments of $1.3 million and a balloon payment of $36.6 million payable simultaneously with the last quarterly installment, which is due in May 2024. The Citibank $62.6 million Facility is secured by a first priority mortgage on the aforementioned vessels.
On May 24, 2019, we entered into a loan agreement with CTBC Bank Co., Ltd, (the “CTBC Facility”), for an amount of $35.0 million, which was used to refinance the outstanding amount under the then existing lease agreement of Star Karlie. The facility is repayable in 20 quarterly principal payments of $0.7 million and a balloon payment of $20.4 million payable simultaneously with the last quarterly installment, which is due in May 2024. The CTBC Facility is secured by first priority mortgage on the aforementioned vessel.
On July 31, 2019, we entered into a loan agreement with a wholly owned subsidiary of NTT Finance Corporation (the “NTT Facility”), for an amount of $17.5 million. The amount was drawn in August 2019 and was used to refinance the outstanding loan amount of $11.2 million of the vessel Star Aquarius under the then existing facility with NIBC (the “NIBC $32.0 million Facility”). The facility is repayable in 27 quarterly principal payments of $0.3 million and a balloon payment of $9.1 million, which is due in August 2026. The NTT Facility is secured by first priority mortgage on the vessel Star Aquarius.
|15.||CEXIM $106.5 million Facility|
On September 23, 2019, we entered into a loan agreement with China Export-Import Bank (the “CEXIM $106.5 million Facility”) for an amount of $106.5 million, which was used to refinance the outstanding amounts under the then existing lease agreements of the vessels Katie K, Debbie H and Star Ayesha. The facility is available in three tranches of $35.5 million each, which were drawn in November 2019 and are repayable in 40 equal consecutive quarterly installments of $0.7 million and a balloon payment of $5.9 million payable together with the last installment. The CEXIM $106.5 million Facility is secured by first priority mortgages on the three aforementioned vessels.
|16.||HSBC Working Capital Facility|
On February 6, 2020, we entered into a loan agreement with HSBC France for a revolving facility of an amount up to $30.0 million (the “HSBC Working Capital Facility”), in order to finance working capital requirements. The agreement is secured by second priority mortgage on the eight vessels which secure the HSBC $80.0 million Facility. We are required to repay any amounts drawn under this facility within three months from their drawdown date. As of December 31, 2021, the whole amount was available to us under this facility. The facility is subject to annual renewals from the lender with the last being effective until February 2022 and no further renewal was made.
|17.||DSF $55.0 million Facility|
On March 26, 2020, we entered into a loan agreement with Danish Ship Finance A/S (the “DSF $55.0 million Facility”) for an amount of up to $55.0 million. The facility was available in two tranches of $27.5 million each, both of which were drawn on March 30, 2020 and used to refinance the outstanding amounts under the lease agreements of the vessels Star Eleni and Star Leo. Each tranche is repayable in 10 equal consecutive, semi-annual principal payments of $1.1 million and a balloon payment of $16.9 million payable simultaneously with the last installment, which is due in April 2025. The DSF $55.0 million Facility is secured by a first priority mortgage on the two vessels. In addition, in April 2020, the Company elected to exercise its option under the DSF $55.0 million Facility to convert the floating part of the interest rate linked to US LIBOR, to a fixed rate of 0.581% per annum for a period of three years starting from July 1, 2020.
|18.||ING $170.6 million Facility|
On July 1, 2020, we entered into an amended and restated facility agreement with ING the “ING 170.6 million Facility”, in order to increase the financing by $70.0 million and to include additional borrowers under the existing ING $100.6 million Facility described below. The additional financing amount of $70.0 million was available in six tranches, all of which were drawn on July 6, 2020, and used to refinance all outstanding amounts under the lease agreements with CMBL of the vessels Star Claudine, Star Ophelia, Star Lyra, Star Bianca, Star Flame and Star Mona. Each tranche is repayable in 24 equal consecutive quarterly principal payments. Under the ING $100.6 million Facility as last amended and restated on March 28, 2019, the following financing amounts have also been drawn: i) in October 2018, two tranches of $22.5 million each, which are repayable in 28 equal consecutive quarterly installments of $0.5 million and a balloon payment of $9.4 million payable together with the last installment and were used to refinance the outstanding amount under the then existing loan agreement of the vessels Peloreus and Leviathan, ii) in July 2019, two tranches of $1.4 million each, which are repayable in 16 equal consecutive quarterly installments of $0.09 million each, and were used to finance the acquisition and installation of scrubber equipment for the vessels Peloreus and Leviathan, iii) in March 2019 and April 2019 two tranches of $32.1 million and $17.4 million, respectively, which are repayable in 28 equal consecutive quarterly principal payments of $0.5 million and $0.3 million, plus a balloon payment of $17.1 million and $8.7 million, respectively, both due in seven years after the drawdown date, and were used to refinance the outstanding amounts under the then existing lease agreements of the vessels Star Magnanimus and Star Alessia, and iv) in May 2019 and November 2019, two tranches of $1.4 million each, which are repayable in 16 equal consecutive quarterly installments of $0.9 million each, and were used to finance the acquisition and installation of scrubber equipment for the vessels Star Magnanimus and Star Alessia. The ING $170.6 million Facility is secured by a first priority mortgage on the vessels Peloreus, Leviathan, Star Magnanimus, Star Alessia, Star Claudine, Star Ophelia, Star Lyra, Star Bianca, Star Flame and Star Mona.
|19.||Alpha Bank $35.0 million Facility|
On July 2, 2020, we entered into a loan agreement with Alpha Bank S.A. for a loan of up to $35.0 million (the “Alpha Bank $35.0 million Facility”). The amount of $35.0 million is available in three tranches. The first two tranches of $11.0 million and $9.0 million were drawn on July 6, 2020 and used to refinance the outstanding amounts under the lease agreements with CMBL of the vessels Star Sky and Stardust. The third tranche of $15.0 million was drawn on July 31, 2020 and used to refinance the outstanding amount of $13.1 million of Star Martha under the then existing DVB $24.8 million Facility. Each tranche is repayable in 20 consecutive, quarterly principal payments ranging from $0.3 million to $0.4 million and a balloon payment ranging from $3.8 million to $6.5 million payable simultaneously with the last quarterly installment, which is due in July 2025. The Alpha Bank $35.0 million Facility was refinanced in 2021 using part of the funds received under the Credit Agricole $62.0 million Facility, as described below. Prior to its repayment the Alpha Bank $35.0 million Facility was secured by first priority mortgages on the aforementioned vessels.
|20.||Piraeus Bank $50.4 million Facility|
On July 3, 2020, we entered into a loan agreement with Piraeus Bank S.A. for a loan of up to $50.4 million (the “Piraeus Bank $50.4 million Facility”). The amount of $50.4 million was drawn on July 6, 2020 and used to refinance all outstanding amounts under the lease agreements with CMBL of the vessels Star Luna, Star Astrid, Star Genesis, Star Electra and Star Glory. The loan amount is repayable in 20 consecutive, quarterly principal payments of $1.1 million for each of the first four quarters and of $1.3 million for each of the remaining 16 quarters, and a balloon payment of $25.2 million payable simultaneously with the last quarterly installment, which is due in July 2025. The Piraeus Bank $50.4 million Facility was refinanced in 2021, using part of the funds received under the DNB $107.5 million Facility, as described below. Prior to its repayment the Piraeus Bank $50.4 million Facility was secured by first priority mortgages on the five aforementioned vessels.
|21.||NTT $17.6 million Facility|
On July 10, 2020, we entered into a loan agreement with a wholly owned subsidiary of NTT Finance Corporation for an amount of $17.6 million (the “NTT $17.6 million Facility”). The amount was drawn on July 20, 2020 and used to refinance the outstanding amount under the lease agreement with CMBL of the vessel Star Calypso. The facility is repayable in 20 quarterly principal payments of $0.5 million and a balloon payment of $8.1 million, which is due in July 2025. The NTT $17.6 million Facility is secured by first priority mortgage on the vessel Star Calypso.
|22.||CEXIM Bank $57.6 million Facility|
On December 1, 2020 we entered into a loan agreement with China Export-Import Bank for a loan amount of $57.6 million (the “CEXIM Bank $57.6 million Facility”) which was drawn in four tranches in late December 2020 and used to refinance the outstanding amounts under a loan facility secured by the vessels Star Gina 2GR, Star Charis, Star Suzanna and a lease agreement secured by the vessel Star Wave. The first two tranches for Star Wave of $13.2 million and for Star Gina 2GR of $26.2 million, are repayable in 32 equal quarterly installments of $0.3 million and $0.7 million and a balloon payment of $2.6 million and $5.2 million, respectively, due in December 2028. The remaining two tranches of $9.1 million each, for Star Charis and Star Suzanna, are repayable in 32 equal quarterly installments. The facility matures in December 2028 and is secured by first priority mortgages on the four aforementioned vessels.
|23.||SEB $39.0 million Facility|
On January 22, 2021, we entered into a loan agreement with SEB for a loan amount of $39.0 million (the “SEB $39.0 million Facility”). The amount was drawn on January 25, 2021 and was used to finance the cash consideration for the three Capesize dry bulk vessels acquired from E.R, which were delivered to us on January 26, 2021. The SEB $39.0 million Facility is repayable in 20 equal quarterly principal payments of $1.95 million with the last installment due in January 2026 and is secured by first priority mortgages on the vessels Star Bueno, Star Borneo and Star Marilena..
|24.||NBG $125.0 million Facility|
On June 24, 2021, we entered into an agreement with the National Bank of Greece for a term loan with one drawing in an amount of up to $125.0 million (the “NBG $125.0 million Facility”). On June 28, 2021, we drew down $125.0 million under the NBG $125.0 million Facility to refinance the outstanding amount of $98.5 million under the DNB $310.0 million Facility (discussed above). The facility is repayable in 20 equal quarterly principal payments of $3.75 million and a balloon payment of $50.0 million payable together with the last installment due in June 2026 The NBG $125.0 million Facility is secured by first priority mortgages on the vessels Big Bang, Strange Attractor, Big Fish, Pantagruel, Star Nasia, Star Danai, Star Renee, Star Markella, Star Laura, Star Moira, Star Jennifer, Star Mariella, Star Helena, Star Maria, Star Triumph, Star Angelina and Star Gwyneth..
|25.||ING $210.6 million Facility|
On August 19, 2021 we entered into an amended and restated facility agreement with ING Bank N.V., London Branch (ING) (the “ING $210.6 million Facility”), in order to increase the financing by $40.0 million and to include additional borrowers under the existing ING $170.6 million Facility (discussed above). The additional financing amount of $40.0 million was available in two equal tranches and were drawn on August 23, 2021, in order to finance part of the acquisition cost of the vessels Star Elizabeth and Star Pavlina, which were delivered in 2021, Each tranche is repayable in 20 consecutive quarterly principal payments of $0.3 million plus a balloon payment of $14.1 million due five years after their drawdown. The ING $210.6 million Facility is secured also by a first priority mortgage on the two additional vessels.
|26.||DNB $107.5 million Facility|
On September 28, 2021, we entered into an agreement with the DNB Bank ASA for a term loan with one drawing in an amount of up to $107.5 million (the “DNB $107.5 million Facility”). On September 29, 2021, the maximum amount was drawn and used to refinance the aggregate outstanding amount of $85.8 million under the then existing facilities (i) Credit Agricole $43.0 million Facility, (ii) Piraeus Bank $50.4 million Facility and (iii) Bank of Tokyo Facility. The DNB $107.5 million Facility is repayable in 20 equal quarterly principal payments of $3.7 million and a balloon payment of $33.4 million payable together with the last installment due in September 2026. The DNB $107.5 million Facility is secured by first priority mortgages on the vessels Star Luna, Star Astrid, Star Genesis, Star Electra, Star Glory Star Monica, Star Borealis and Star Polaris.
|27.||ABN AMRO $97.1 million Facility|
On October 27, 2021, we entered into an agreement with the ABN AMRO Bank N.V, for a loan facility of up to $97.1 million (the “ABN AMRO $97.1 million Facility”). The amount of $97.1 million was drawn on October 29, 2021 and was used to refinance the outstanding amount under the then existing facility Citi $130.0 million Facility of $89.9 million. The ABN AMRO $97.1 million Facility was available in two tranches, one of $68.95 million which is repayable in 20 equal quarterly principal payments of $2.25 million and a balloon payment of $23.95 million payable together with the last installment due in October 2026 and one of $28.2 million which is repayable in 12 equal quarterly principal payments of $2.35 million, maturing in October 2024. The ABN AMRO $97.1 million Facility is secured by a first priority mortgage on the vessels Star Pauline, Star Angie, Star Sophia, Star Georgia, Star Kamila and Star Nina, Star Eva, Star Paola, Star Aphrodite, Star Lydia and Star Nicole.
|28.||Credit Agricole $62.0 million Facility|
On October 29, 2021, we entered into a loan agreement with Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (the “Credit Agricole $62.0 million Facility”) for the financing of an aggregate amount of $62.0 million, to refinance the aggregate outstanding amount of $49.4 million under the then existing agreements, Alpha Bank $35.0 million Facility and BNP Facility, and to prepay an amount of $2.0 million under the Atradius Facility in connection with the vessels Star Despoina and Star Piera. The amount of $62.0 million was drawn on November 2, 2021 and is repayable in 20 quarterly installments of which the first three will be of $3.0 million and the following 17 of $2.6 million and a balloon payment of $8.8 million, payable together with the last installment due in November 2026. The Credit Agricole $62.0 million Facility is secured by the vessels Star Martha, Star Sky, Stardust, Star Despoina and Star Piera.
All of our bank loans bear interest at LIBOR plus a margin except for DSF $55.0 million Facility described above.
Credit Facility Covenants
Our outstanding credit facilities generally contain customary affirmative and negative covenants, on a subsidiary level, including limitations to:
|·||pay dividends if there is an event of default under our credit facilities;|
|·||incur additional indebtedness, including the issuance of guarantees, or refinance or prepay any indebtedness, unless certain conditions exist;|
|·||create liens on our assets, unless otherwise permitted under our credit facilities;|
|·||change the flag, class or management of our vessels or terminate or materially amend the management agreement relating to each vessel;|
|·||acquire new or sell vessels, unless certain conditions exist;|
|·||merge or consolidate with, or transfer all, or substantially all, our assets to another person; or|
|·||enter into a new line of business.|
Furthermore, our credit facilities contain financial covenants requiring us to maintain various financial ratios, including among others:
|·||a minimum percentage of vessel value to loan amount secured (security cover ratio or “SCR”);|
|·||a maximum ratio of total liabilities to market value adjusted total assets;|
|·||a minimum liquidity; and|
|·||a minimum market value adjusted net worth.|
As of December 31, 2021, we were in compliance with the applicable financial and other covenants contained in our debt agreements.
Issuance of 2022 Notes
On November 9, 2017, we issued $50.0 million aggregate principal amount of 8.30% Senior Notes due 2022 (the “2022 Notes”). The proceeds were $50.0 million were applied to redeem the then outstanding notes (the “2019 Notes”) on December 11, 2017 at an aggregate redemption price of 100% of the outstanding principal amount, plus accrued and unpaid interest to, but not including, the date of redemption. On July 30, 2021, we redeemed all of 2022 Notes for 100% of the outstanding principal amount, or $50.0 million, plus accrued and unpaid interest up to but not including the redemption date.
In December 2018, we sold and simultaneously entered into a bareboat charter party contract with an affiliate of Kyowa Sansho to bareboat charter the vessel Star Fighter for ten years. Pursuant to the terms of the bareboat charter, we pay a daily bareboat charter hire rate payable monthly plus a variable amount. Under the terms of the bareboat charter, we have an option to purchase the vessel starting on the third anniversary of the vessel’s delivery to us at a pre-determined, amortizing purchase price, while we have an obligation to purchase the vessel at the expiration of the bareboat term at a purchase price of $2.5 million. The amount of $16.1 million provided under the respective agreement was used to pay the remaining amount of approximately $12.0 million under the then existing agreement with HSH Nordbank (the “HSH Nordbank $35.0 million Facility”).
On March 29, 2019, we entered into an agreement to sell Star Pisces to SK Shipholding S.A. and simultaneously entered into a seven-year bareboat charter for the vessel. Pursuant to the terms of the bareboat charter, we pay a daily bareboat charter hire rate monthly plus interest, and we have an option to purchase the vessel starting on the third anniversary of the vessel’s delivery to us at a pre-determined, amortizing purchase price. We also have an obligation to purchase the vessel at the expiration of the bareboat term at a purchase price of $7.6 million. The amount of $19.1 million provided under the agreement which was concluded in April 2019, was used to pay the remaining amount of $11.7 million under the then existing NIBC $32.0 million Facility.
On May 22, 2019, we entered into an agreement to sell Star Libra to Ocean Trust Co. Ltd. and simultaneously entered into a seven-year bareboat charter for the vessel. Pursuant to the terms of the bareboat charter, we pay a daily bareboat charter hire rate quarterly plus interest, and we have an option to purchase the vessel at any time after the vessel’s delivery to us at a pre-determined, amortizing purchase price. We also have an obligation to purchase the vessel at the expiration of the bareboat term at a purchase price of $18.1 million. The amount of $34.0 million provided under the agreement which was concluded in July 2019, was used to pay the remaining amount under the previous lease agreement for Star Libra with CSSC.
On July 10, 2019, we entered into an agreement to sell Star Challenger to Kyowa Sansho Co. Ltd. and simultaneously entered into an eleven-year bareboat charter party for the vessel. Pursuant to the terms of the bareboat charter, we pay a daily bareboat charter hire rate monthly plus a variable amount and we have an option to purchase the vessel starting on the third anniversary of vessel’s delivery to us at a pre-determined, amortizing purchase price. We also have an obligation to purchase the vessel at the expiration of the bareboat term. The amount of $15.0 million provided under the agreement was used to pay the remaining amount of approximately $10.9 million under the then existing HSH Nordbank $35.0 million Facility.
In order to finance the cash portion of the consideration for the acquisition of the Delphin Vessels, in July 2019, we entered, for each of the subject vessels, into an agreement to sell each such vessel and simultaneously entered into a seven-year bareboat charter party contract with affiliates of CMBL for each vessel upon its delivery from Delphin. CMBL agreed to provide an aggregate finance amount of $91.4 million. Pursuant to the terms of each bareboat charter, we pay CMBL a fixed bareboat charter hire rate in quarterly installments plus interest. Under the terms of the bareboat charters, we have options to purchase each vessel starting on the first anniversary of such vessel’s delivery to us, at a pre-determined, amortizing purchase price, while we have an obligation to purchase each vessel at the expiration of the bareboat term at a purchase price ranging from $1.0 million to $3.4 million. In addition, CMBL provided and additional aggregate amount of $15.0 million, under the aforementioned bareboat charters, which was received during the year 2020 and used to finance the acquisition and installation of scrubber equipment for the Delphin Vessels. In December 2021, the Company repaid the outstanding amounts of $19.2 million for three out of the 11 vessels.
On August 27, 2020, we entered into sale and leaseback agreements with CMBL for the vessels Laura, Idee Fixe, Roberta, Kaley, Diva, Star Sirius and Star Vega. On August 28 and August 31, 2020, we received an aggregate amount of $82.8 million, in connection with the finalization of the sale and leaseback transactions of the aforementioned vessels, except for the vessel Diva, which transaction was finalized on November 17, 2020 and in connection with which we received an additional amount of $7.2 million. The amounts received were used to pay the remaining amounts of i) $51.1 million under the previous lease agreements for the first four vessels and ii) $24.6 million under the then existing DNB $310.0 million Facility, as discussed above, for the remaining three vessels. The lease terms are for five years and pursuant to the terms of each bareboat charter, we pay CMBL a fixed bareboat charter hire rate in quarterly installments plus interest and have options to purchase each vessel starting on the first anniversary of such vessel’s delivery to us, at a pre-determined, amortizing purchase price.
On September 3, 2020, we entered into an agreement to sell Star Lutas to SK Shipholding S.A. and simultaneously entered into a seven-year bareboat charter for the vessel. Pursuant to the terms of the bareboat charter, we pay a daily bareboat charter hire rate monthly plus interest, and we have an option to purchase the vessel starting on the third anniversary of the vessel’s delivery to us at a pre-determined, amortizing purchase price. We also have an obligation to purchase the vessel at the expiration of the bareboat term at a purchase price of $7.4 million. The amount of $16.0 million provided under the agreement which was received on September 18, 2020, was used to pay the vessel’s remaining amount of $9.3 million under the then existing loan agreement.
On September 21, 2020, we entered into sale and leaseback agreements with SPDB Financial Leasing Co. Ltd for the vessels Mackenzie, Kennadi, Honey Badger, Wolverine and Star Antares. In September 2020, an aggregate amount of $76.5 million was received pursuant to the five sale and leaseback agreements, which was used to pay the remaining amount of $47.8 million under the then existing loan facility. The lease terms are for eight years and pursuant to the terms of each bareboat charter, we pay a fixed bareboat charter hire rate in quarterly installments plus interest and have options to purchase each vessel starting on the third anniversary of such vessel’s delivery to us, at a pre-determined, amortizing purchase price while we have an obligation to purchase each vessel at the expiration of the bareboat term at a purchase price ranging from $7.8 million to $7.9 million.
On September 25, 2020, we entered into sale and leaseback agreements with ICBC Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. for t