A Bergen-based tanker owner is to install scrubbers on its entire fleet using financing from Norway’s export credit agency.
Inventor Chemical Tankers’ seven 19,000-gt chemical tankers qualify for export credit because they are deployed in foreign trade. Export Credit Norway and its guarantee agency GIEK will provide around US$10M in seven tranches, mirroring the retrofit equipment deliveries to take place over 2019.
Financing is available for 85% of the contract value, and will be integrated into Inventor Chemical Tankers’ existing loan facility with banks that financed the building of its fleet between 2015 and 2017. The company bought scrubber systems from Lysaker-based Clean Marine, meaning that the the Norwegian component of the contract was higher than the 30% needed to qualify for export credit.
“Clean Marine was very proactive in securing the sale agreement with Inventor Chemical Tankers, which liked our financing solution,” said Export Credit Norway senior vice president Laila Johnsen. “We offered the company a loan at a fixed rate set by the OECD. Since then, US interest rates have skyrocketed, and it is precisely when interest rates are rising that a fixed-rate loan is favourable.”
Clean Marine CEO Nils Høy-Petersen said: “Securing financing for scrubber retrofits has proven difficult given the relatively large investment required in terms of both equipment and installation. We plan to continue using export financing as a sales tool going forward
Not all contracts of this type achieve such a successful outcome. Speaking at Riviera Maritime Media's US Sulphur Cap 2020 Conference in Houston earlier this month, Avantis Marine chief executive Barry Bednar said that local content requirements was one of the biggest constraints to this form of finance.
"There is a scrubber manufacturer based in France that is trying to work with the French government and banks on this," Mr Bednar said. "But we've had a lot of road blocks and haven't been able to put it together.”
Shipping companies can also apply for a framework credit agreement to finance retrofits of ballast water treatment systems.
Last month ING and the European Investment Bank signed a €110M (US$125M) loan agreement to finance retrofitting 42 Spliethoff vessels with scrubbers and ballast water management systems.
Scrubber finance will be among issues discussed at Riviera Maritime Media's Sulphur Cap 2020 Conference in Amsterdam on 8-9 May.