April 19, 2005
Maritrans back in Northeast barge market
Maritrans Inc. (NYSE:TUG) has redeployed its the double-hull barge M192 from its existing clean products route along the Gulf Coast, to the Northeast residual oil market.
As part of the transaction, the M192 entered into an 18-month time charter with Sunoco Inc. (R&M) to commence later this year.
Maritrans CEO Jonathan Whitworth commented that by re-deploying the M192 Maritrans had expanded its relationship with a long-term customer, re-entered an important geographic region and expanded the type of cargo that it transports.
Outside of its strong lightering system serving the Delaware River-based refineries, Maritrans last deployed a vessel on a full basis in the Northeast in 1999. Since then, it says, customer demand and requirements in that market have increased, making the Northeast an attractive region for the company to re-enter.
Maritrans says it does not anticipate any additional overhead from the redeployment of the M192 due to the fact that the company can leverage off its existing Philadelphia operations.
Commenting on the company's upcoming first quarter 2005 earnings, Mr. Whitworth stated, "Maritrans' position as the largest U.S. spot owner, combined with the strong demand for our vessels as well as the reduction in supply due to previous regulatory phase-outs, has contributed to a robust rate environment in the first quarter of 2005. According to Poten & Partners Inc., a ship-brokering and consulting firm, average spot rates for the US Gulf to US Northeast clean petroleum trade for the first quarter of 2005 were at the AR288 level, approximately 17% higher than the fourth quarter of 2004. In addition to earning higher clean petroleum spot rates, the Company achieved utilization that was better than the fourth quarter of 2004 and continued to experience strength in the lightering business."