Oslo-listed BW Epic Kosan has snapped up a couple of cheap vessels while continuing to offload non-core tonnage.

The Singapore-based owner of midsize LPG carriers said two unnamed, 7,500-cbm pressurised ships were acquired at “well below current market prices” through a purchase obligation under a bareboat charter.

There were 64 ships at the end of the quarter, with 60 regarded as core vessels.

Seven more non-core units were sold or redelivered out of the fleet in the quarter, chief executive Charles Maltby said.

This included three 3,600-cbm carriers sold, as it focuses on larger tonnage.

The deals were made possible by an increasing demand for secondhand ships, the company said.

The disposals brought in net cash of $13.7m, while another ship of the same size is being sold for delivery in the second quarter.

The vessels were not named, but brokers point to the Linda Kosan (built 2011) as sold to Samudera in Indonesia and the Helle Kosan (built 2010) as gone to Rubis in France.

Two LPG vessels — the 3,661-cbm Inge Kosan and Tracey Kosan (both built 2011) — were sold to Pertamina in Indonesia in the final three months of 2022.

A chartered-in, 7,500-cbm newbuilding was delivered at the end of March with a purchase option.

Maltby said the strategy is to grow the size of the fleet while maintaining an attractive average age.

Net profit up

Net profit in the first quarter grew to $12m from $9.1m in the same period of 2022, with time charter revenue down a fraction at $72m versus $72.3m.

Maltby said the result was down to a “stronger market combined with an increase in average vessel capacity, and effective cost management”.

He added that these markets have continued into the second three months.

Average rates rose 10% to $12,956 per day in the quarter.

And BWEK ended the quarter with 38% of the fleet covered at $12,710 per day, up 8.4% from this point last year.

The owner is expecting 2.7% growth in seaborne trade in 2023, with gas fleet growth at 2.2% before any scrapping.

Maltby sees further positive earnings momentum over the medium term.

The company expects second and third-quarter results will be better year on year thanks to an improved level of charter cover.

The company had cash of $97.4m at the end of the quarter.

Norne Securities called the results impressive, with “a supreme control of the cost elements”.