Brightoil Petroleum’s plans to restructure its shipping divisions through sale and leaseback deals were dealt a further blow last week when eager buyers snapped up three of its largest tankers when they went under the hammer at court-ordered sales in Singapore and South Korea.
The results of auctions held in Singapore for the 107,500-dwt aframax tanker Brightoil Lion (built 2010) and the 319,800-dwt VLCC Brightoil Grace (built 2013) have yet to be officially disclosed by High Court of Singapore, although officials there confirmed that both vessels have been sold.
The identities of the buyers and the prices they paid for the ships will be announced when the transactions have been concluded and handovers have taken place, court officials said.
Towards the end of last week strong market suggestions were already indicating that Greek shipowner Nikolaos Vafias had won the race for the Brightoil Lion, securing the vessel at a price of $26m in an auction that was said to have attracted nine other competing bids, including multiple Greek owners.
While the indentity of the buyer of the Brightoil Grace was still uncertain on Monday, Singapore-based broking sources suggested that bidders for the ship were mostly Greek and Chinese based on pre-auction inquiries they had received.
An as-yet undisclosed Hong Kong-based Chinese buyer has been widely reported on Monday to have been the victor at the South Korean auction of the 320,000-dwt Brightoil Gravity (built 2012) after submitting a $55.8m bid for the ship.
While the industry awaits full details of the auction results, which are likely to emerge this week, Brightoil is being forced to contemplate a future with a much reduced fleet.
Only two weeks ago chief executive Stephen Qi Jun told TradeWinds that the company was hashing out a restructuring deal by involving the sale and leaseback of its fleet of 14 ships, which would then be chartered out under long-term contracts to an oil major.
At the time Brightoil’s fleet comprised of four VLCCs, four aframaxes and six bunker tankers. A fifth VLCC, the 320,000-dwt Brightoil Glory (built 2012), had only just been sold at auction in Hong Kong to Delta Tankers for $58m. It has since been renamed Delta Glory.
Qi was hopeful that the company would get its creditors to agree to the deal so that auction sales could be avoided. That clearly was not the case with the creditors of the three tankers that were put up for auction last week.
Today the company’s remaining VLCC, the 320,000-dwt Brightoil Gem (built 2013) remains arrested in China, while the last three aframax tankers are under arrest in Hong Kong. The six bunker tankers are all under arrest in Singapore.