For decades, the experience is that uncertain times create demand for our ships. We see that there is a scarcity of tankers. The NAT fleet is busy supplying energy to many parts of the world. NAT has not loaded Russian oil for several years. Our main customers, the major oil companies know that our ships are first class and they know they can always rely on Nordic American.
Inflation in the US came in at 3.2% in October, down from 9.1% a little more than a year ago. The US economy is on the right track and China is also taking steps to stimulate its economy. Oil will continue to be an important commodity for all major economies for a long time. It is anticipated that world oil demand will grow also in 2024.
The net income for the first nine months of 2023 is more than $100 million higher than for the same period last year. The net income for the first nine months of 2023 totaled $81.2 million compared to the net loss of -$20.9 million during the first nine months of 2022. The third quarter in 2023 came in with a net income of $7.5 million.
The average Time Charter Equivalent (TCE) for our spot vessels (15) during the third quarter of 2023 came in at $32,832 per day per ship. Including vessels on term contracts (4), the total average NAT TCE was $31,235 per day per ship. During the same quarter last year the TCE was $27,850 per day per ship. Similar to the other quarters this year, this is one of the strongest third quarter TCE’s ever achieved in NAT’s 28-year history as a listed company. The operating costs per day per ship are about $9,000.
Bookings for the fourth quarter of 2023 indicate a strong fourth quarter. About 73% of our spot voyage days for the fourth quarter of 2023 have now been booked at an average TCE of $43,160 per day per ship. There is a scarcity of our type of ships, leading to better results and higher dividend.
We are scheduled to take delivery of the recently purchased suezmax tanker, to be named “Nordic Hawk”, on December 4, 2023. Nordic Hawk is the name of the first vessel in the NAT fleet following our US stocklisting in 1995. Including Nordic Hawk our fleet stands at 20 Suezmax tankers.
The dividend for the third quarter of 2023 is 6 cents ($0.06) per share. The dividend is payable January 17, 2024 to shareholders of record as of December 20, 2023. Higher earnings will result in higher dividends.
NAT has one of the lowest debt levels among publicly listed tanker companies. Our net debt stood at $170.8 million, equal to $9 million per ship at September 30, 2023. The objective of NAT clearly remains to become free of debt.
The NAT fleet of versatile suezmax tankers offer flexibility in loading and discharging ports. Through careful voyage planning and adjustment of speed of our vessels, we reduce emissions. Each individual ship in the NAT fleet is of excellent technical quality, as demonstrated in the vetting performance, the score board undertaken by our customers.
Source: Nordic American Tankers Ltd.