Russian energy shipping firm Sovcomflot has signed two credit facilities with international banks and export credit agencies (ECAs).

The company obtained a US$160mn, 12-year export credit loan from Finnvera, Finnish Export Credit and ING for the financing of two ice-breaking supply vessels. The vessels, Vitus Bering and Aleksey Chirikov, are currently under construction at Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Oy (a joint venture between United Shipbuilding Corporation and STX Finland), and will provide services to the oil platform at the Arkutun-Dagi offshore oilfield under a long-term charter agreement with Exxon Neftegas.

This is the first time Sovcomflot has signed a financing arrangement with Finnish Export Credit and its parent company, Finland’s ECA Finnvera. ING acted as arranger on the facility.

Nikolai Kolesnikov, senior executive vice-president, chief financial officer, says: “This is the third successful international financing agreement for [Sovcomflot] in 2012. It further strengthens the group’s liquidity position and, despite the challenging conditions of the global financial and shipping markets, enables us to address all our key upcoming financial requirements.”

On December 10, 2012, Sovcomflot signed a US$700mn, seven-year credit facility with a consortium of eight international banks, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Citi, DVB Bank, ING, Nordea and Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken as mandated lead arrangers, and Morgan Stanley Senior Funding as arranger.

The loan will be used to refinance the group’s existing bank debt, as well as for other corporate purposes. It is secured against crude oil tankers and oil products carriers from Sovcomflot’s fleet.

Kolesnikov adds: “This new loan agreement clearly demonstrates the confidence of international lenders in the group despite the current challenges faced by the global financial and shipping markets. The deal covers [Sovcomflot’s] upcoming refinancing requirements and will allow to optimise the group’s debt repayment profile and to strengthen its liquidity position.”

In June 2012, the firm signed a US$140mn, seven-year loan with Citi and bank of America Merrill Lynch, to finance the construction of two VLCC-tankers to operate on long-term charter agreements with PetroChina International.