Norway’s Klaveness Combination Carriers (KCC) has revealed it was “lucky” to have avoided having vessels in the Black Sea when Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Chief executive Engebret Dahm told a conference call that the owner of vessels that carry both wet and dry cargoes trades “very seldom” in Ukraine and Russia.

But earlier this year, it was repositioning two ships to the Pacific from the Atlantic after it closed down that trade at the end of 2021.

The vessels were due to load grain cargoes in the Black Sea in February and early March.

But the decision was taken to redirect the duo to load instead in the US Gulf, the chief executive said.

Dahm added that this meant KCC “luckily avoided” having ships in the Black Sea when war broke out.

He also said the company has no Ukrainian or Russian crew and no financing in Russia or Ukraine.

“So we have little direct exposure, which I think is good,” he said. “We are lucky in that sense.”

Dahm was also asked when the new Cleanbu oil product and dry cargo ships will start to earn more than the older Cabu caustic soda and bulk units.

The answer was possibly in the second quarter of this year.

Confidence in earnings potential

But Dahm is confident that it will happen sooner rather than later in any case.

“The important thing for us is to increase the number of customers, to increase the efficiency of operations,” Dahm said.

“We have had a little bit too much waiting time, some trades that were not ideal, and two long ballast legs last year.

“As we book more customers and get up the volume, expect waiting times to improve further.”

Dahm argues that there is an upside potential in Cleanbu earnings irrespective of what markets do.

Ebitda beat forecast

Clarksons Platou Securities said KCC’s first-quarter Ebitda of $18m was $2m higher than its own estimate.

The investment bank expects this profit figure to jump to $27m in the second quarter, based on the day-rate guidance.

In the third quarter, this could rise again to $30m, based on conservative forward freight agreement markets, with LR1 tanker rates dropping to $24,000 per day.

Clarksons Platou said the company is now “firing on all cylinders”.

“With limited capital expenditure and all vessels now on the water, we believe KCC can finally shine this year, as all shipping markets are expected to earn outsized rates,” the investment bank said.