Norwegian-US outfit TRF Ship Management has reportedly moved its lone VLCC as the market for the largest oil tankers continues to show strength.

According to broking sources, the company has sold the 297,700-dwt TRF Horten (built 2018) for $102m.

Initially, brokers pointed to a Chinese shipowner as the likely buyer.

Now Greek shipowner Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) is being strongly linked with the tanker.

TEN has been an active buyer of scrubber-fitted crude tankers this year, having just confirmed a five-ship deal with another Norwegian owner, Viken Shipping.

TEN has a policy of not discussing transactions outside of public statements.

The sale price is a slight discount to VesselsValue’s $104m valuation.

However, broking sources told TradeWinds the price came down slightly as the tanker was built at the Philippines’ now-defunct Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Subic Bay and it is typical for ships from this yard to carry a discount.

Still, the price is not far off recent deals at a time when modern VLCCs for sale are in short supply and buyer appetite is ramping up.

In addition, tanker newbuilding prices are high and shipyards are only able to offer delivery slots in 2027 or later, boosting secondhand pricing.

Clarksons pegs a five-year-old VLCC at $109m, up from the 2023 average of $105m.

VesselsValue shows several nine-figure deals for VLCCs on the younger side completed in recent months.

It notes a shopping spree by Saudi Arabian owner Bahri, which picked up two VLCCs from Greece’s Thenamaris — the 320,600-dwt Ninawa and Diyala (both built 2019) — for $114m each.

This is the same price it paid United Arab Emirates-based VS Tankers for its 320,600-dwt Dijilah and Kirkuk (both built 2019) in early December.

The TRF Horten sale leaves TRF Ship Management with five vessels: a capesize bulker, three MR tankers and a chemical tanker.

It also has three LR2s on order at Jiangsu New Hantong Ship Heavy Industry.

Positive outlook

The company trades the MRs in the Hafnia Chemical Pool and the chemical tanker is in a Hansa Tankers pool.

The TRF Horten has been trading with Tankers International.

The shipowner has yet to respond to requests for comment.

TRF Ship Management is based in Oslo and was founded to manage ships on behalf of US-based Transportation Recovery Fund.

VLCC rates have been lagging other crude tanker asset classes this year. However, with limited ordering for the past two years and an ageing fleet on the water, the outlook is seen as positive.

“Amid all the geopolitical noise, we should not forget to consider the fundamentals supporting our business,” DHT Holdings chief executive Svein Moxnes Harfjeld told investors on a conference call yesterday.