Ridgebury Tankers has placed all eight MR product tankers it has acquired in 2021 with the Hafnia MR tankers pool, amid wider growth in the Danish firm's pools this year.

Peter Kolding, vice president for commercial and pool management at Hafnia, said the Ridgebury entries are among some 40 vessels that Hafnia has added across its tanker pools this year, with a net gain of between 25 and 30 units.

Connecticut-based Ridgebury acquired six of the MRs en bloc from New York-listed International Seaways in July and two from Denmark's Dee4 Capital Partners about a month earlier, with all now trading in the Hafnia operation, Kolding told TradeWinds.

"Ridgebury has been the main contributor," Kolding said. "This was the first time we’ve had a chance to do something with Ridgebury and it's something we’re very pleased about."

Fuelled largely by the Ridgebury additions, Hafnia has been able to grow its MR pool by one-third in the year to date, surging from 60 tankers to 80.

It has been the primary 2021 growth engine in the Hafnia portfolio, but Kolding noted that Hafnia has engaged in improvements across the entire platform designed to boost its broader presence.

"It's been a good year in that sense," Kolding said. "We've taken some active steps to improve the service that we can offer our parties."

When Hafnia first set up pools about a decade ago, they were designed not to be intrinsic profit centres, but rather to create scale around Hafnia's own fleet.

Oslo-listed Hafnia Tankers, backed by the BW Group, owns 89 product tankers for its own account, while operating a further 99 units, chartering in 13 and running four on bareboat charters.

It controls pools in the LR, MR, handysize and specialised tanker sectors.

Solid earnings

Connecticut's Ridgebury Tankers, which is led by chief executive Bob Burke, has been a key player in the growth of Hafnia tanker pools in 2021. Photo: Marine Money

Partners include Chartworld, Jo Tankers, Nordic Shipholding, Overseas Shipholding Group, Mitsui OSK Lines, Odfjell and United Arab Chemical Carriers.

"Scale is one of the things that enables solid earnings — when you create critical mass, it's good for both Hafnia and the partners," Kolding said.

"We were keen to get partners who would stick with us for more than six months. We said you have to stick around for at least a year. But, over time, the competitive landscape changed. There were more and more pools with little to no minimum period.

"We did not conceptually want to be a parking lot for ships for a minimum period of time, but we wanted to remain competitive."

Thus, an important change saw Hafnia slash its minimum requirement to 45 days for all but the LR1 pool, which required 60 days given the longer typical voyages.

Another critical step came in July as Hafnia negotiated a $100m term loan and revolving credit facility with four lenders, including BW. Kolding said the line of credit allowed it to reduce the amount of working capital required from pool partners.

For example, a partner entering an LR1 would advance $750,000, not $1m. The MR figure was reduced from $800,000 to $400,000.

"You need less money in your pocket to be part of the club," Kolding said.

Hafnia also was able to decrease the lag in earnings distributions to partners to a range of between two and three weeks — less than the estimated 30 to 40 days expected by an owner running a tanker on a spot basis.

"The combination of these things has made us very competitive," Kolding said. "As you can see from the numbers, we've had reasonable success. And we're expecting more ships to continue coming in through the rest of the year. There are other things in the pipeline.

'Pretty good year'

"We've added about 40 ships year to date, and in most of the cases where we've lost ships, it's because owners took a decision to sell them. So on a net basis we're up between 25 and 30, and I'd say that's a pretty good year."

Kolding said other highlights of the year have been a pair of entries to the Hafnia LR1 pool.

Great Eastern Shipping of India joined with the 74,800-dwt Jag Aanchal (built 2008), while Greek owner Velos Tankers came in with the 70,000-dwt Velos Diamantis (built 2010).

The latter is run by Paschalis Diamantides and the tanker is named for his father, Diamantis Diamantides, and for his newborn son.

Latest arrivals are two scrubber-fitted handysize units from German owner Carl Buttner that will join the Hafnia Handy Pool later this month: the 37,900-dwt CB Caribic (built 2020) and CB Adriatic (built 2019).