US-listed Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) has boosted its liquidity by selling what was once one of the biggest product tankers in the world.

The 117,000-dwt LR2/aframax Proteas (built 2006) will add $7.1m in free cash to the Greek owner’s bank balance, after repayment of related debt.

This will be booked in the second quarter.

The vessel has been sold to unrelated entities, TEN said.

Brokers had earlier reported the ship as acquired by Asian interests for $20.1m.

The tanker has been renamed Meline and is listed under the ownership of a company called Southport Navigation, registered in Panama.

The vessel was built at Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea.

The Proteas was acquired by TEN as part of an en-bloc deal involving two sister vessels built in the same year.

The company paid $69.7m for each tanker to Switzerland’s Western Petroleum at the time.

“This timely sale depicts our commitment to our stated Greenship initiative, as it coincides with the recent order of four dual-fuel aframaxes on long-term employment to a significant end-user,” said TEN’s chief operating officer George Saraglou.

More sales to come

“As we continue to explore and evaluate future alternatives, similar transactions should be expected,” he added.

TEN said earlier in April that it would sell some of its oldest 60-plus tankers as it awaits delivery of the newbuildings.

The Nikolas Tsakos-led company is also “exploring additional opportunities for similar technology” newbuildings with a view to achieving a fully “green” fleet by 2030, the company added.

TEN aims to have “the vast majority, if not all” its vessels on modern propulsion fuels, whether LNG or alternatives, chief executive Tsakos told analysts in a conference call after releasing fourth-quarter earnings.

The shipowner has already sold up to six ageing vessels since June last year.