2020 has been a tumultuous year. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten health and disrupt economic activity, putting millions of jobs at risk along with the well-being of individuals and families. BW LPG has focused on ensuring that our 2000 or so colleagues around the world, on shore and at sea, remain safe. We are proud of the determination and commitment demonstrated by our employees in the face of this crisis.
The pandemic has meant increasing uncertainties and difficulties over port access, supplies, crew changeovers and repatriation. While we all battle our own challenges on the personal and professional fronts, we thank the men and women at sea who keep global trade going even as they face unprecedented periods away from home due to global travel restrictions. It is such resilience against strong headwinds that defines who we are as a company.
Another major challenge of our time is to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint. On this front, we announced the successful retrofitting of the Very Large Gas Carrier (VLGC), BW Gemini, with pioneering LPG propulsion technology in October. She is the world’s first VLGC to cross the Pacific Ocean while powered by LPG, and she subsequently undertook the largest load of LPG on a single keel (49,000 metric tonnes). BW Gemini is the first of 15 vessels we have committed for retrofitting with LPG propulsion technology, representing our commitment to sustainable development. We are taking the lead and advancing technology that will allow us to decarbonise and maximise the value of an asset with a remaining lifespan of 20 years or more.
The shipping market at the start of 2020 continued 2019’s positive performance, supported by resilient LPG exports out of the US, recovery in LPG exports from the Middle East, and a widening arbitrage driven by strong demand and reduced fleet availability. VLGC freight rates collapsed at the end of the second quarter but recovered quickly from Q3. For all of 2020, our TCE income reached US$551 million, and we secured a net profit of US$244 million compared to US$274 million in 2019. We have paid dividends for the past six quarters and returned a total of US$0.84 per share (US$116 million) in FY2020 to our shareholders.
We announced the sale of Berge Summit in July, securing an attractive price for an older vessel. In December 2020 and February 2021, BW Cedar and BW Elm were respectively added to the fleet of our joint venture company (JV) BW Global United LPG India Private Limited in India. All five vessels are on time charter contracts to major Indian oil companies to supply India with LPG. India is the world’s second largest LPG import market, and our JV, currently the largest VLGC operator in India, is well-positioned to capture growth opportunities.
As part of our continued emphasis to report transparently on our impact from operations, we present our inaugural standalone Sustainability Report. Since 2017, we have structured our Sustainability reporting within our Annual Reports in alignment with the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals and referenced the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Reporting Standards. This year, we hold ourselves to even higher standards of sustainable operations and reporting.
We thank Mr John Harrison and Mr Andreas Beroutsos, who stepped down from the Board in May, for their strong contributions during their tenure. Mr Andreas Beroutsos continues to be part of the larger BW Group in his new capacity as Managing Director leading investments in alternative energy solutions. Our special thanks to Mr John Harrison, who was Vice-Chairman of the Board since BW LPG’s listing on the Oslo Stock Exchange in 2013. We welcome Ms Sonali Chandmal and Mr Andrew E. Wolff as members of the Board and look forward to their counsel.
We sail into 2021 with cautious optimism. The full effects of COVID-19 and the rate of recovery are uncertain, and extraordinary policies are needed to help shape global economic and social recovery, while keeping climate impact in mind.
As an energy source, we believe that LPG can serve as an empowering fuel – uplifting communities and saving lives when it replaces harmful fuel sources such as wood and charcoal; reducing greenhouse emissions and lowering operational costs when used to power vessels; and pushing technology towards a zero-carbon future.
We are confident that we will continue to successfully navigate uncertain times and create shareholder value through the dedication and hard work of all at BW LPG.