SeaRiver readies sale

ExxonMobil’s US shipping offshoot has launched a campaign to offload two of its suezmax tankers, TradeWinds has learned.

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Sources with ties to the Jones Act market claim SeaRiver Maritime is actively seeking buyers for the 125,000-dwt Kodiak (built 1978) and Sierra (built 1979).

According to the same contacts the campaign began when the company issued a request for non-binding proposals, a process that will allow the Houston, Texas-based operator to gauge interest and get a sense of how much a buyer might be willing to pay.

Since the sale-and-purchase market for Jones Act tonnage is relatively illiquid it’s difficult to determine how much the vessels are worth, which is why industry observers say they are not surprised to see SeaRiver dip its toe in the water before diving in.

If the tankers were scrapped overseas the portal claims the ships would command approximately $11m a piece but it is widely believed that the units could fetch far more if they are sold for further trading.

While it would be unusual to see suezmaxes as old as the Kodiak and Sierra operating in the international tanker market the fundamentals of the Jones Act segment are such that operators are able to push the envelope when it comes to age.

A source who is active in the US crude market and used to work for one of the nation’s leading tanker brokerages tells TradeWinds that $30m wouldn’t be an unreasonable price to pay for one of SeaRiver’suezmaxes since demand has pushed freight rates to record highs.

Many believe the Kodiak and Sierra will continue to trade for another three to five years but admit their future will be far less certain come 2020, which is when exemptions from regulations requiring the use of low-sulphur fuel in emission control areas are scheduled to expire.

Market sources claim SeaRiver hopes to offload one of the suezmaxes by no later than October but doesn’t intend to part with the other until it accepts delivery of an aframax that is under construction at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard and due for delivery in the first-half of 2015.