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As we approach the end of the year, I would like to share with you some thoughts on recent events. The best suezmax tanker rates for a year or two are with us now. For each day passing by, we come closer to stable improved conditions. These last few months have been a busy and exciting time for us. We have established a new company, Nordic American Offshore Ltd. (NAO), where NAT is the largest shareholder. The fourth quarter started quite slowly, while the tanker market for crude oil has strengthened considerably during the last few weeks. The stronger market manifested itself first in the super tanker sector (VLCC), and is now having a positive impact on the Suezmax sector. As I write this, broker reports are quoting Suezmax spot market rates of about $35,000 per day. The longer it lasts, the better. The fourth quarter can still be expected to remain weak as a certain time is needed to improve the rates across our fleet.
We obviously see the recent development as a positive sign. As we enter 2014, the fundamentals of our business can accommodate these spikes occurring more frequently, in turn raising the average rates achieved by our fleet.
Bright spots on the horizon are the strong tendencies we see in global ton-mile demand (transportation work) coupled with, most likely, negative tanker industry fleet growth in 2014. Recently, there have been many reports in the media about US energy independence. The US accounts for only about 15% of our business; the focus in the crude shipping sector is tilting eastward. Global oil consumption is still growing, and the distances for transporting the oil are increasing.
In November, we announced the creation of Nordic American Offshore - an offshore supply vessel company employing a similar strategy to NAT. NAO, which at this time owns six supply vessels, is a separate company from NAT. The company was primarily financed through a private placement, which was well received and oversubscribed. NAT also has made an investment in NAO of $65 million, which is slightly in excess of the cost of one Suezmax newbuilding. The plan is to have NAO listed on the NYSE during the first quarter of 2014.