Teekay Tankers’ hope that older ships would become money-making machines did not stop the company from selling one more ship in the first quarter.

The New York-listed shipowner said on Thursday that it sold an unnamed 2005-built aframax for roughly $15m, completing the sale in April 2022.

“Having refinanced 13 vessels on low-cost sale-leaseback financings and sold three older vessels in 2022, we have strong pro forma liquidity of $231m and a net debt-to-capitalisation ratio of 42%,” chief executive Kevin Mackay said in a statement alongside first quarter earnings.

TradeWinds reported on 4 May that Teekay Tankers’ 115,500-dwt Helga Spirit (built 2005) was earlier in the year in a $17.5m transaction and is now trading as Panther I under the technical management of Columbia Shipmanagement.

The Helga Spirit joined three other ships sold recently, two of which were divulged on Teekay Tankers’ fourth quarter earnings call in February.

Those were the 112,000-dwt Australian Spirit and the 115,000-dwt Axel Spirit (both built 2004).

Data from Clarksons said the Australian Spirit was sold for $13.5m to undisclosed interests in December 2021 and the Axel Spirit for $13.2m to a Chinese buyer in March.

The third ship moved in 2022, the 159,000-dwt suezmax Kaveri Spirit (built 2004) was sold to Greece's Transmed Shipping for $15.8m, according to broking sources.

After those sales, Mackay said he hoped veteran tankers — Teekay Tankers owns 26 crude and product tankers built in 2010 and earlier — would become “massive cash-generation machines”.

“I think the asset price market is firm. We don’t see that changing in the near term. So again, that means that we might have a bit of time here to consider those ships,” he said.

For the first quarter of 2022, Teekay Tankers posted a loss of $13.9m, or a $0.41 per share loss, better than the $0.68 per share loss analysts had expected.

It was also an improvement from the $21.4m loss for the first quarter of 2021.

The company attributed the improvement to better spot market rates, suezmaxes earn an average of $13,786 per day versus $10,670 per day a year ago and its aframaxes fetch $16,857 per day versus $10,108 per day.

Its LR2s saw improvements as well, jumping to $15,491 per day from $11,434 per day year-over-year.

Further improvements were made so far in the second quarter, as well, with its suezmaxes earning an average of $27,400 per day with 52% of revenue days booked, aframaxes $30,900 per day with 45% booked and LR2s $30,400 per day with 43% booked.

Mackay said the improvement was down to changing oil trading patterns following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, but pointed out risks like Covid-19 outbreaks in China and Opec+ supply decisions were persistent risks.

“These changes have been particularly positive for mid-sized tankers that our company
operates, given the flexibility of the tonnage and our ability to call at a much wider range of ports relative to VLCCs,” he said.

Harry Papachristou contributed to this article