SEACOR HOLDINGS INC 10-K 2010
Documents found in this filing:
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 13 OR 15(d) OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009 OR
For the transition period from to
Commission file number 1-12289
SEACOR Holdings Inc.
(Exact name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
Registrants telephone number, including area code
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12 (b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12 (g) of the Act:
(Title of Class)
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. x Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ¨ Yes x No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15 (d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. x Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). ¨ Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrants knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of large accelerated filer, accelerated filer, and smaller reporting company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). ¨ Yes x No
The aggregate market value of the voting stock of the registrant held by non-affiliates as of June 30, 2009 was approximately $1,412,564,488 based on the closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on such date. The total number of shares of Common Stock issued and outstanding as of February 19, 2010 was 22,614,077.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrants definitive proxy statement for its 2010 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the Commission) pursuant to Regulation 14A within 120 days after the end of the Registrants last fiscal year is incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Certain statements discussed in Item 1 (Business), Item 1A (Risk Factors), Item 3 (Legal Proceedings), Item 7 (Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations), Item 7A (Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk) and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K as well as in other materials and oral statements that the Company releases from time to time to the public constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements concerning managements expectations, strategic objectives, business prospects, anticipated economic performance and financial condition and other similar matters involve significant known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause the actual results, performance or achievements of results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements discussed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such risks, uncertainties and other important factors are discussed in Item 1A (Risk Factors). In addition, these statements constitute the Companys cautionary statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. It should be understood that it is not possible to predict or identify all such factors. Consequently, the following should not be considered to be a complete discussion of all potential risks or uncertainties. The words anticipate, estimate, expect, project, intend, believe, plan, target, forecast and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of the document in which they are made. The Company disclaims any obligation or undertaking to provide any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statement to reflect any change in the Companys expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which the forward-looking statement is based. It is advisable, however, to consult any further disclosures the Company makes on related subjects in its 10-Q and 8-K reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Unless the context indicates otherwise, the terms we, our, ours, us and the Company refer to SEACOR Holdings Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. SEACOR refers to SEACOR Holdings Inc., incorporated in 1989 in Delaware. Common Stock refers to the common stock, par value $.01 per share, of SEACOR. The Companys fiscal year ended on December 31, 2009.
The Company is in the business of owning, operating, investing in and marketing equipment, primarily in the offshore oil and gas, industrial aviation and marine transportation industries. The Company operates a diversified fleet of offshore support vessels and helicopters servicing oil and gas exploration, development and production facilities worldwide and a fleet of U.S.-flag product tankers that transport petroleum, chemicals and crude products primarily in the U.S. domestic or coastwise trade. In addition, the Company operates a fleet of inland river barges and towboats transporting grain, liquids and other bulk commodities on the U.S. Inland River Waterways. The Companys environmental services segment primarily provides emergency preparedness and response services to oil, chemical, industrial and marine transportation clients, and government agencies in the United States and abroad. The Companys commodity trading and logistics segment is an integrated business involved in the purchase, storage, transportation and sale of agricultural and energy commodities.
SEACORs principal executive offices are located at 2200 Eller Drive, P.O. Box 13038, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316, and the telephone number is (954) 523-2200. SEACORs website address is www.seacorholdings.com.
The Companys Corporate Governance policies, including the Board of Directors Audit Committee, Compensation Committee and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee charters are made available, free of charge, on the Companys website or in print for shareholders.
All of the Companys periodic report filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, are made available, free of charge, through the Companys website, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports. These reports and amendments are available through the Companys website as soon as reasonably practicable after the Company electronically files such reports or amendments with the SEC. They are also available to be read and copied at the SECs Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549. Information as to the operation of the SECs Public Reference Room can be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The SEC maintains a website (www.sec.gov) that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information.
Segment and Geographic Information
The Companys operations are divided into six main business segments: Offshore Marine Services, Marine Transportation Services, Inland River Services, Aviation Services, Environmental Services and Commodity Trading and Logistics. The Company also has activities that are referred to and described under Other, which primarily includes Harbor and Offshore Towing Services, various other investments in joint ventures and lending and leasing activities. Financial data for segment and geographic areas is reported in Part IV Note 15. Major Customers and Segment Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Offshore Marine Services operates a diversified fleet of support vessels primarily servicing offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production facilities worldwide. Vessels in this service are employed to deliver cargo and personnel to offshore installations, handle anchors for drilling rigs and other marine equipment, support offshore construction and maintenance work, provide standby safety support and emergency response services. From time to time, Offshore Marine Services supports projects such as well stimulation, seismic data gathering and offshore accommodation. Offshore Marine Services also offers logistics services in support of offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production operations, including shorebased, marine transport and other supply chain management services. This segment contributed 33%, 43% and 51% of consolidated operating revenues in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Equipment and Services
The following tables identify the types of vessels that comprise Offshore Marine Services fleet as of December 31 for the indicated years. Owned are those majority owned by the Company. Joint Ventured are those owned by entities in which the Company does not have a controlling interest. Leased-in may be either vessels contracted from third parties or from leasing companies to which the Company may have sold such vessels. Pooled are owned by entities not affiliated with Offshore Marine Services with the revenues or results of operations of these vessels being shared with the revenues or results of operations of certain vessels of similar type owned by Offshore Marine Services based upon an agreed formula. Managed are owned by entities not affiliated with the Company but operated by Offshore Marine Services for a fee. See Glossary of Vessel Types below for an explanation of the services they perform.
The following table indicates average fleet age in years as of December 31:
Glossary of Vessel Types
Anchor handling towing supply (AHTS) vessels are used primarily to support offshore drilling activities in the towing, positioning and mooring of drilling rigs and other marine equipment. AHTS vessels are also used to transport supplies and equipment from shore bases to offshore drilling rigs, platforms and other installations. The defining characteristics of AHTS vessels are horsepower (bhp), size of winch in terms of line pull and wire storage capacity. Offshore Marine Services fleet of AHTS vessels has varying capabilities and supports offshore mooring activities in water depths ranging from 300 to 8,000 feet. Most modern AHTS vessels are equipped with dynamic positioning (DP) systems that enable them to maintain a fixed position in close proximity to a rig without the use of tie-up lines.
Crew boats are used primarily to move cargo and personnel to and from offshore drilling rigs, platforms and other installations. Historically, crew boats transported people and were also used to deliver light cargo such as personal effects, small machinery and small quantities of fuel and water. These boats also served as field stand-by vessels, moving personnel between platforms and providing emergency stand-by services. Crew boats built prior to 1990 are generally 100 to 130 feet in length and are capable of 20 knots speed in light conditions and calm seas. Vessels built since 1998, also referred to as Fast Support Vessels (FSVs), range from 130 to 200 feet in length and are capable of speeds between 25 and 35 knots. Modern FSVs have enhanced cargo carrying capacities enabling them to support both drilling operations and production services. Vessels supporting deep water drilling are usually equipped with DP capabilities, ride control systems and firefighting equipment.
Mini-supply vessels are approximately 145 to 165 feet in length and typically carry deck cargo, liquid mud, methanol, diesel fuel and water. These vessels are typically used to support construction projects, maintenance work, certain drilling support activities and production support.
Standby safety vessels typically remain on location proximate to offshore rigs and production facilities to respond to emergencies. These vessels carry special equipment to rescue personnel and are equipped to provide first aid and shelter. These vessels sometimes perform a dual role, also functioning as supply vessels.
Supply vessels and towing supply vessels are generally more than 200 feet in length and are used to deliver cargo to rigs and platforms where drilling and work-over activity is underway or to support construction work by delivering pipe to vessels performing underwater installations. Supply vessels are distinguished from other vessels by the total carrying capacity (expressed as deadweight: dwt), available area of clear deck space, below-deck capacity for storage of mud and cement used in the drilling process and tank storage for water and fuel oil. The ability to hold station in open water and moderately rough seas is a key factor in differentiating supply vessels. To improve station keeping ability, certain supply vessels have DP capabilities. Towing supply vessels perform similar cargo delivery functions to those handled by supply vessels. They are, however, equipped with more powerful engines (4,000 8,000 bhp) and winches, giving them the added capability to perform general towing functions, buoy setting and limited anchor handling work.
Specialty includes anchor handling tugs, lift boats, accommodation, line handling and other vessels. These vessels generally have specialized features adapting them to specific applications including offshore maintenance and construction services, freight hauling services and accommodation services.
The demand for vessels is affected by the level of offshore exploration and drilling activities, which in turn is influenced by a number of factors including:
Offshore Marine Services operates vessels in six principal geographic regions. From time to time, vessels are relocated between these regions to meet customer demand for equipment. The table below sets forth vessel types by geographic market as of December 31 for the indicated years. Offshore Marine Services sometimes participates in joint venture arrangements in certain geographical locations in order to enhance marketing capabilities and facilitate operations in certain foreign markets. This allows for the expansion of Offshore Marine Services fleet and operations while diversifying risks and reducing capital outlays associated with such expansion.
United States. As of December 31, 2009, 62 vessels were operating in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, including 33 owned, 24 leased-in, three joint ventured and two pooled. Offshore Marine Services expertise in this market is deepwater anchor handling with its fleet of AHTS vessels, and exploration and production support with its fleet of crew and mini-supply vessels. Over the last few years, the market has split between the traditional shallow water shelf activity and the developing deepwater market. The shelf market is highly price sensitive and quickly affected by movements in commodity prices. Customers in the deepwater market place greater emphasis on vessel specifications and features in addition to price.
Africa, primarily West Africa. As of December 31, 2009, 26 vessels were operating in West Africa, including 18 owned, two leased-in, four joint ventured and two managed. Offshore Marine Services operates primarily in Angola, servicing large-scale, multi-year projects for major oil companies. The other vessels in this region operate from ports in Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.
United Kingdom, primarily North Sea. As of December 31, 2009, 25 vessels were operating in the North Sea, including 24 owned and one joint ventured. The North Sea fleet provides standby safety and supply services. Demand in the North Sea market for standby services developed in 1991 after the United Kingdom passed legislation requiring offshore operators to maintain higher specification standby safety vessels. The legislation requires a vessel to stand by to provide a means of evacuation and rescue for platform and rig personnel in the event of an emergency at an offshore installation.
Middle East. As of December 31, 2009, 22 vessels were operating in the Middle East region, including 16 owned, one leased-in, two joint ventured and three managed. Offshore Marine Services vessels operating in this area generally support activities in countries along the Arabian Gulf and Arabian Sea, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and India.
Asia. As of December 31, 2009, eight vessels were operating in Asia, including six owned and two joint ventured. Offshore Marine Services vessels operating in this area generally support exploration programs. To date, Offshore Marine Services largest markets in this area have been Vietnam and Indonesia.
Mexico, Central and South America. As of December 31, 2009, 22 vessels were operating in Mexico, Central and South America, including 14 owned and eight managed. Offshore Marine Services primary markets in this region are Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.
Customers and Contractual Arrangements
The Offshore Marine Services segment earns revenues primarily from the time charter and bareboat charter of vessels to customers based upon daily rates of hire. Under a time charter, Offshore Marine Services provides a vessel to a customer and is responsible for all operating expenses, typically excluding fuel. Under a bareboat charter, Offshore Marine Services provides a vessel to the customer and the customer assumes responsibility for all operating expenses and assumes all risk of operation. Vessel charters may range from several days to several years. In the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, time charter durations and rates are typically established in the context of master service agreements that govern the terms and conditions of charter.
Offshore Marine Services principal customers are major integrated oil companies, large independent oil and gas exploration and production companies and emerging independent companies. Consolidation of oil and gas companies through mergers and acquisitions over the past several years has reduced Offshore Marine Services customer base. In 2009, there was no single customer responsible for 10% or more of consolidated operating revenues. The ten largest customers of Offshore Marine Services accounted for approximately 50% of Offshore Marine Services operating revenues. The loss of one or a few of these customers could have a material adverse effect on Offshore Marine Services results of operations.
Each of the markets in which Offshore Marine Services operates is highly competitive. The most important competitive factors are pricing and the availability and specifications of equipment to fit customer requirements. Other important factors include service, reputation, flag preference, local marine operating conditions, the ability to provide and maintain logistical support given the complexity of a project and the cost of moving equipment from one geographical location to another.
Offshore Marine Services has numerous competitors in each of the geographical regions in which it operates, ranging from international companies that operate in many regions to smaller local companies that typically concentrate their activities in one specific region.
Risks of Foreign Operations
For the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, 63%, 52% and 52%, respectively, of Offshore Marine Services operating revenues were derived from foreign operations.
Foreign operations are subject to inherent risks, including, among others, political instability, asset seizures, blockades, blacklisting, nationalization of assets, terrorist attacks, piracy, kidnapping, fluctuating currency values, hard currency shortages, controls on currency exchange, the repatriation of income or capital, import-export quotas and other forms of public and governmental regulation, all of which are beyond the control of Offshore Marine Services. It is difficult to predict whether or when any of these conditions or events may develop in the future. The occurrence of any one or more of these conditions or events could have a material adverse effect on Offshore Marine Services financial position and its results of operations.
Marine Transportation Services owns a fleet of eight U.S.-flag product tankers, providing marine transportation services for petroleum products and chemicals moving in the U.S. domestic coastwise trade. This segment contributed 5%, 7% and 9% of consolidated operating revenues in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Equipment and Services
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) prohibits vessels without double-hulls from transporting crude oil and petroleum products in U.S. coastwise transportation after certain dates based on the age and carrying capacity of the vessel. In addition, single-hulled vessels will be prohibited from transporting petroleum products in most international markets under a phase-out schedule established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The table below sets forth the Marine Transportation Services fleet as of December 31, 2009.
Petroleum Product Transportation. In the domestic energy trade, oceangoing vessels transport fuel and other petroleum products primarily from refineries and storage facilities along the coast of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to utilities, waterfront industrial facilities and distribution facilities along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as transport crude and product between Alaska and the U.S. Pacific coast and Hawaii. The number of U.S.-flag oceangoing vessels eligible to participate in the U.S. domestic trade and capable of transporting fuel or petroleum products has fluctuated in recent years as vessels have reached the end of their useful lives or have been retired due to OPA 90 requirements and newbuilds are placed into service.
Chemical Transportation. In the U.S. domestic coastwise chemical transportation trade, vessels carry chemicals, primarily from chemical manufacturing plants and storage facilities along the coast of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to industrial users in and around U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coast ports. The chemicals transported consist primarily of caustic soda, paraxylene, alkylates, toluene and lubricating oils. Some of the chemicals must be carried in vessels with specially coated or stainless steel cargo tanks and many of them are sensitive to contamination and require special cargo-handling equipment.
Customers and Contractual Arrangements
The primary purchasers of petroleum product transportation services are multinational oil and gas companies, refining companies, oil trading companies and large industrial consumers of fuel with waterfront facilities. The primary purchasers of chemical transportation services are chemical and oil companies. Both services are generally contracted for on the basis of short-term or long-term time charters, voyage charters, and contracts of affreightment or other transportation agreements tailored to the shippers requirements. In 2009, no single customer was responsible for 10% or more of consolidated operating revenues. The ten largest customers of Marine Transportation Services accounted for approximately 99% of its operating revenues. The loss of one or a few of these customers could have a material adverse effect on Marine Transportation Services results of operations.
Under a time charter, Marine Transportation Services provides a vessel to a customer and is responsible for all operating expenses, typically excluding fuel and port charges. Under a bareboat charter, Marine Transportation
Services provides a vessel to a customer and the customer assumes responsibility for all operating expenses and assumes all risk of operation. Vessel charters may range from several days to several years. Voyage contracts are contracts to carry cargos on a single voyage basis regardless of time to complete. Contracts of affreightment are contracts for cargos that are committed on a multi-voyage basis for various periods of time, with minimum and maximum cargo tonnages specified over the period at a fixed or escalating rate per ton.
The markets in which the Marine Transportation Services fleet operates are highly competitive. Primary direct competitors are other operators of U.S.-flag ocean-going tank vessels and chemical carriers, operators of articulated tug and barge units and operators of refined product pipelines. The U.S. Jones Act shipping market is a trade that is not available to foreign-based competition. The most important competitive factors are pricing, vessel age and vessel availability to fit customer requirements as well as customer preference for double-hull vessels even though single hull vessels are still eligible to trade.
Inland River Services owns, operates, invests in and markets inland river transportation equipment. The Company believes it operates one of the industrys newest fleets of dry cargo and liquid tank barges transporting agricultural and industrial commodities, and chemical and petrochemical products on the U.S. Inland River Waterways, primarily the Mississippi River, Illinois River, Tennessee River, Ohio River and their tributaries, and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterways. Inland River Services also owns towboats used for moving barges, fleeting operations and deck barges. It also manages barges for third parties. Inland River Services contributed 9%, 9% and 9% of consolidated operating revenues in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Equipment and Services
The following tables identify the types of equipment that comprise Inland River Services fleet as of December 31 for the indicated years. Owned are those majority owned by the Company. Joint Ventured are those owned by entities in which the Company does not have a controlling interest. Leased-in are those leased-in under operating leases. Pooled are owned by entities not affiliated with Inland River Services with operating revenues and voyage expenses pooled with certain barges of similar type owned by Inland River Services and the net results allocated to participants based upon the number of days the barges participate in the pool. Each barge owner is responsible for the costs of insurance, maintenance and repair as well as for capital and financing costs of its own equipment in the pool. Managed are owned by entities not affiliated with the Company but operated by Inland River Services for a fee.
As of December 31, 2009, the average age (in years) of Inland River Services owned and joint ventured fleet was as follows:
Inland barges are unmanned and are moved on the U.S. Inland River Waterways by towboats. The combination of a towboat and dry cargo barges is commonly referred to as a tow. The Inland River Services dry cargo fleet consists of hopper barges, which can be open for the transport of commodities that are not sensitive to water such as coal, aggregate and scrap, or covered for the transport of water sensitive products, such as grain, ores, alloys, cements and fertilizer. Each dry cargo barge in the Inland River Services fleet is capable of transporting approximately 1,500 to 2,000 tons (1,350 to 1,800 metric tons) of cargo. The carrying capacity of a barge at any particular time is determined by water depth in the river channels and hull size of the barge. Adverse river conditions, such as high water resulting from excessive rainfall or low water caused by drought, can also impact operations by limiting the speed at which tows travel the U.S. Inland River Waterways, the number of barges included in tows and the quantity of cargo that is loaded in the barges.
Typical dry cargo voyage activity requires shifting a clean, empty barge from a fleeting location to a loading facility. The barge is then moved from the loading location and assembled into a tow before proceeding to its next destination. After unloading, it is shifted to a fleeting area for cleaning and repair, if needed, before being moved again into a load position. Typically, grain cargos move southbound and non-grain cargos move northbound. Generally, Inland River Services attempts to coordinate the logistical match-up of northbound and southbound movements of cargo to minimize repositioning costs.
Inland River Services fleet of 10,000 barrel liquid tank barges transports liquid bulk commodities such as lube oils, solvents and glycols. The operations of these barges are similar to those of the dry cargo barges described above. Inland River Services fleet of 30,000 barrel liquid tank barges transports refined petroleum products and black oil products and are normally chartered-out as unit tows consisting of two to three barges along with a towboat working in patterns prescribed by the customer. Inland River Services is responsible for providing manpower for the towboats working in such operations.
Inland River Services owns a fleeting operation, which is a staging area for grouping barges in preparation for movements up and down the river and a holding area for barges waiting to load and unload cargo. This fleeting operation is managed by a third party.
Inland River Services owns a tank farm and handling facility in Sauget, Illinois. The facility is multi-modal, supporting truck, rail, unit trains and barges, and commenced operations in May 2008.
Inland River Services has a 50% interest in a joint venture that owns a fleet of inland marine transportation assets with a view toward generating cash returns that may be enhanced by entering into strategic positions in marketable securities and commodity futures.
Inland River Services has a 50% interest in a joint venture that operates a grain and fertilizer storage and handling facility in McLeansboro, Illinois.
Inland River Services has a 50% interest in a joint venture with a third party in South America that, as of December 31, 2009, operates six towboats and 112 dry cargo barges on the Parana-Paraguay Rivers.
Inland River Services has a 50% interest in a joint venture that operates six inland river towboats on the U.S. Inland River Waterways.
The market for Inland River Services is driven by supply and demand economics, which impacts prices, margins achieved and utilization of Inland River Services assets. The relationship between supply and demand reflects many factors, including:
Within the United States, other local factors also have an effect on pricing and margins, including:
During harsh winters the upper Mississippi River usually closes to barge traffic from mid-December to mid-March. Ice often hinders the navigation of barge traffic on the mid-Mississippi River, the Illinois River and the upper Ohio River during the same period. The volume of grain transported from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico, which is primarily for export, is greatest during the harvest season from mid-August through late November. The harvest season is particularly significant because pricing tends to peak during these months in response to higher demand for equipment.
Customers and Contractual Arrangements
The principal customers for Inland River Services are major agricultural companies, major integrated oil companies and industrial companies. In 2009, there was no single customer responsible for 10% or more of consolidated operating revenues. The ten largest customers of Inland River Services accounted for approximately 66% of Inland River Services revenues in 2009. The loss of one or a few of its customers would be unlikely to have a material adverse effect on Inland River Services results of operations.
Most of Inland River Services dry cargo barges are employed under contracts of affreightment that can vary in duration, ranging from one voyage to several years. For longer term contracts, base rates may be adjusted in response to changes in fuel prices and operating expenses. Some longer term contracts provide for the transport of a minimum number of tons of cargo or specific transportation requirements for a particular customer. Some barges are bareboat chartered-out to third parties for a fixed payment of hire per day for the duration of the charter. These contracts tend to be longer, ranging in term from one to five years.
Inland River Services generally charges a price per ton for point to point transportation of dry bulk commodities. Customers are permitted a specified number of days to load and discharge the cargo and thereafter pay a per diem demurrage rate for extra time. From time to time, dry cargo barges may be used for storage for a period prior to delivery.
Inland River Services 10,000 barrel liquid tank barges are either chartered-out on term contracts ranging from one to five years or marketed on the spot market.
Inland River Services 30,000 barrel liquid tank barges are marketed primarily as unit tows under term contracts ranging from one to five years.
Inland River Services tank farm and handling facility is marketed on a tariff system driven by throughput volume.
Generally, Inland River Services believes the primary barriers to effective competitive entry into the U.S. Inland River Waterways markets are the complexity of operations, the consolidation of the inland river towing industry and the difficulty in assembling a large enough fleet and an experienced staff to execute voyages efficiently and re-position barges effectively to optimize their use. The primary competitive factors among established operators are price, availability and reliability of barges and equipment of a suitable type and condition for a specific cargo.
Inland River Services main competitors are other barge lines. Railroads and liquid pipelines also compete for traffic that might otherwise move on the U.S. Inland River Waterways.
The Company believes that 67% of the domestic dry cargo fleet is controlled by five companies and 63% of the domestic liquid barge industry fleet is controlled by five companies.
Risks of Foreign Operations
Inland River Services foreign operations primarily consist of its joint ventures operating in foreign jurisdictions.
Foreign operations are subject to inherent risks, including, among others, political instability, asset seizures, blockades, blacklisting, nationalization of assets, terrorist attacks, piracy, kidnapping, fluctuating currency values, hard currency shortages, controls on currency exchange, the repatriation of income or capital, import-export quotas and other forms of public and governmental regulation, all of which are beyond the control of Inland River Services. It is difficult to predict whether or when any of these conditions or events may develop in the future. The occurrence of any one or more of these conditions or events could have a material adverse effect on Inland River Services financial position and its results of operations.
Aviation Services is primarily engaged in transportation services to the offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production industry, aircraft leasing, transportation services to hospitals (Air Medical Services) and flightseeing tours in Alaska. In addition, Aviation Services sells fuel and provides other services to corporate aircraft at its fixed base operation (FBO) at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. It also provides aircraft and flight crews under contracts, provides flight training services and manages customer-owned aircraft. Aviation Services operates a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved maintenance repair station in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Aviation Services contributed 14%, 15% and 16% of consolidated operating revenues in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Equipment and Services
The following tables identify the types of aircraft that comprise Aviation Services fleet as of December 31 for the indicated years. Owned are those majority owned by the Company. Joint Ventured are those owned by entities in which the Company does not have a controlling interest. Leased-in are those leased-in under operating leases. Managed are those owned by entities not affiliated with the Company but operated by Aviation Services for a fee. As of December 31, 2009, 137 aircraft were located in the United States and 37 were located in foreign jurisdictions.
In typical configurations, Light helicopters are single or twin engine helicopters with a passenger capacity between five and seven, Medium helicopters are twin engine helicopters with a passenger capacity of up to 13 and Heavy helicopters are twin engine helicopters with a passenger capacity of up to 19.
Aviation Services has a 49% interest in an international sales, marketing and manufacturing organization focusing on after-market helicopter accessories.
Aviation Services has a 50% interest in a joint venture that provides instruction and flight simulator training to outside customers and Aviation Services employees.
Aviation Services current principal markets for its transportation services supporting the offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production industry are in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. In the U.S.
Gulf of Mexico, the customers and locations are similar to those serviced by Offshore Marine Services and its market opportunities are subject to the same cycles and pressures as described in Item 1. BusinessOffshore Marine ServicesMarkets. Other helicopter services to the oil and mining industries in Alaska are provided on a contract or charter basis from bases in Valdez, Anchorage, the Kenai area and Deadhorse.
Air Medical Services operations are primarily in the northeastern United States, Florida and Tennessee. Flightseeing services in Alaska are operated out of Juneau and from areas near Denali National Park. In addition, Aviation Services leases aircraft to other operators principally outside the United States.
A significant portion of Aviation Services operating revenues and profits related to oil and gas industry activity is dependent on actual flight hours. The fall and winter months have fewer hours of daylight and flight hours are generally lower at these times. In addition, prolonged periods of adverse weather in the fall and winter months coupled with the effect of fewer hours of daylight can adversely impact operating results. In general, the months of December through February in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and October through April in Alaska have more days of adverse weather conditions than the other months of the year. In the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, June through November is tropical storm season. During tropical storms, Aviation Services is unable to operate in the area of a storm although flight activity may increase immediately prior to and after storms due to the evacuation and return of offshore workers. The Alaska flightseeing operation is also seasonal with activity generally occurring from late May until early September.
Customers and Contractual Arrangements
Aviation Services charters its helicopters to utility and oil and gas customers primarily through master service agreements, term contracts, day-to-day charter arrangements and leases. Master service agreements require incremental payments above a fixed rental fee based upon flight hours flown, have fixed terms ranging from one month to five years and generally are cancelable upon 30 days notice. Term contracts and day-to-day charter arrangements are generally non-cancelable without cause and call for a combination of a monthly or daily fixed rental fee plus a charge based on hours flown. Day-to-day charter arrangements are generally based on either an hourly or daily rate. Leases can be either dry, providing only the equipment, or wet, providing equipment, insurance and personnel. The rate structure, as it applies to Aviation Services utility and oil and gas contracts, typically contains terms that limit its exposure to increases in fuel costs over a pre-agreed level. Fuel costs in excess of these levels are passed through to customers. With respect to flightseeing aircraft, block space is allocated to cruise lines and seats sold directly to customers. Other markets for Aviation Services include international oil and gas industry support activities, agricultural support and general aviation activities. Aviation Services activities in these markets are limited.
Air Medical Services are provided under contracts with hospitals that typically include either a fixed monthly and hourly rate structure, similar to oil and gas, or a fee per completed flight. Most contracts with hospitals are longer term, but offer either party the ability to terminate with less than six months notice. Aviation Services operates some air medical contracts pursuant to which it collects a fee per flight, either from a hospital or an insurance company.
Aviation Services FBO in Alaska sells fuel and other services to a diverse group of general aviation companies and large corporations on an ad hoc basis. In addition, the FBO leases hangar space and provides fueling services for transient aircraft and the aviation assets of local companies.
Aviation Services principal customers in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico are oil companies of varying sizes and the U.S government. In Alaska, its principal customers for helicopter services are oil and mineral companies and cruise line passengers.
In 2009, no one customer was responsible for 10% or more of consolidated operating revenues. The ten largest customers of Aviation Services accounted for approximately 48% of Aviation Services operating revenues. The loss of one or a few of its customers could have a material adverse effect on Aviation Services results of operations.
The helicopter transportation business is highly competitive. Aviation Services is one of the largest helicopter companies operating in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and one of the largest operating in Alaska. In the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, there are three major competitors: PHI, Inc., Bristow Group, Inc. and Rotorcraft Leasing Company LLC. In addition, several customers in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico operate their own helicopter fleets. In Air Medical Services, there are several major competitors with larger fleets than Aviation Services. In most instances, an operator must have an acceptable safety record, demonstrated reliability and suitable equipment to bid for work. Among bidders meeting these criteria, customers typically make their final choice based on price and aircraft preference.
Risks of Foreign Operations
Aviation Services operates worldwide. For the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, 15%, 10% and 8%, respectively, of Aviation Services operating revenues were derived from its foreign operations.
Foreign operations are subject to inherent risks, including, among others, political instability, asset seizures, blockades, blacklisting. nationalization of assets, terrorist attacks, piracy, kidnapping, fluctuating currency values, hard currency shortages, controls on currency exchange, the repatriation of income or capital, import-export quotas and other forms of public and governmental regulation, all of which are beyond the control of Aviation Services. It is difficult to predict whether or when any of these conditions or events may develop in the future. The occurrence of any one or more of these conditions or events could have a material adverse effect on Aviation Services financial condition and its results of operations.
Environmental Services primarily provides emergency preparedness and response services to oil, chemical, industrial and marine transportation clients, and government agencies in the United States and abroad. In the United States, these services are generally rendered to those clients who store, transport, produce or handle petroleum and certain non-petroleum oils that are subject to the provisions of OPA 90 and various other federal, state and municipal regulations. Internationally, these services may be required by legislation and regulation of countries, international maritime conventions and environmental covenants placed on clients by their lending institutions. To a lesser extent, Environmental Services provides emergency preparedness and response services to governmental agencies arising from natural disasters and homeland security issues such as debris removal monitoring, public assistance projects, bio-terrorism, pandemic influenza and port security. Environmental Services also provides other services to oil, chemical, industrial and government clients including hazardous waste management, industrial and marine cleaning, salvage support, petroleum storage tank removal, pipeline repair and site remediation services. Business is conducted primarily through the Companys wholly owned subsidiaries: National Response Corporation (NRC), OBriens Response Management Inc. and SEACOR Environmental Services International Limited. Environmental Services contributed 8%, 10% and 12% of consolidated operating revenues in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Products and Services
Emergency Response Services. Environmental Services employs trained personnel and maintains specialized equipment positioned in the United States and in certain locations outside the United States to respond to oil and chemical spills, other emergencies and customer projects. A fleet of specialized vessels and
barges outfitted with oil spill equipment is positioned on the East, Gulf and West coasts of the United States as well as in the Caribbean and Hawaii. Oil and chemical spill response equipment are also stationed in certain international locations in Africa, the Caspian and Black Sea Region, the Far East and the Middle East. Environmental Services has established a network of approximately 180 independent oil spill response contractors that may assist it by providing equipment and personnel.
Retainer Services. Environmental Services offers retainer contracts to the maritime community, such as operators of tank and non-tank vessels and chemical carriers, and to owners of facilities, such as refineries, pipelines, exploration and production platforms, power plants and storage tank and transportation terminals. Retainer contracts provide customers with access to professional response management and specialized equipment necessary to respond to an oil or chemical spill emergency and facilitate compliance with regulations such as OPA 90.
Consultancy and Training Services. Environmental Services provides a range of prevention, business continuity, media, safety and security consultancy and training services around the world to assist oil, chemical, industrial, marine transportation, financial services and government customers in the prevention of, and response to, an extensive variety of environmental emergencies on both a retained and stand-alone basis. Environmental Services assists customers in the selection and training of personnel in the use of environmental equipment and products. In addition, Environmental Services provides a service to state, county and other local government agencies assisting them with claim reimbursement from the federal government, through agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Highway Administration. Furthermore, it provides oversight of clean-up and debris management required after hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters.
Industrial and Remediation Services. Environmental Services provides industrial and remediation services to oil, chemical, industrial and government clients. These services include hazardous waste management, industrial and marine cleaning, salvage support, petroleum storage tank removal, pipeline repair and site remediation services.
The market for contractual oil spill preparedness, response and other related training and consulting services in the United States resulted from the enactment of OPA 90. OPA 90 and several subsequent regulations promulgated by the Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Minerals Management Service division of the U.S. Department of Interior (MMS) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) require that all tank vessels operating within the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States and all facilities and pipelines handling oil that could have a spill affecting the navigable waters of the United States develop plans to respond to a worst case oil spill and ensure by contract or other approved means the ability to respond to such a spill.
The market for vessel security assessments, security plans, security training and exercises and other related services is for clients required to comply with the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. Homeland Security services are marketed to government agencies to assist with efforts to improve emergency preparedness and response capabilities.
In the international market for oil spill response services, Environmental Services seeks to develop opportunities with governments, other agencies and international oil and gas exploration and production companies to establish and operate the necessary response capability. International crisis management and business continuity services focus on middle and senior management and are marketed to a broad range of industry sectors such as oil and gas, chemical, financial services, transportation and other industries.
The market for government services in the United States includes federal, state, county, city, and other subdivisions and agencies. Services are typically provided in association with specific funding sources, such as FEMA reimbursement, Homeland Security Grants, municipal budgets and other agency funding.
Customers and Contractual Arrangements
Environmental Services offers its services primarily to the domestic and international shipping community, major oil companies, independent exploration and production companies, pipeline and transportation companies, power generating operators, industrial companies, airports and state and local government agencies. Services are provided pursuant to contracts generally ranging from one month to ten years. In 2009, there was no single customer responsible for 10% or more of consolidated operating revenues. The ten largest customers of Environmental Services accounted for approximately 28% of Environmental Services operating revenues. The loss of a single large client or a group of mid-size customers could have a material adverse effect on Environmental Services results of operations.
The principal competitive factors in the environmental service business are price, customer service, reputation, experience, qualifications, availability of personnel and operating capabilities. In the United States, qualifications include USCG classification as an Oil Spill Removal Organization (OSRO). Environmental Services NRC is a USCG classified OSRO and it faces competition primarily from the Marine Spill Response Corporation, a non-profit OSRO funded by the major integrated oil companies. NRC also faces competition from other non-profit industry cooperatives and from those commercial contractors who target specific market niches in response, consulting and remediation. Internationally, competition for both oil spill response and emergency preparedness and management comes from a few private companies and regional oil industry cooperatives. Consulting and training service competitors range from small independent privately owned businesses to large engineering consulting groups and major defense contractors.
Risks of Foreign Operations
Environmental Services operates worldwide. For the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, 14%, 20% and 25%, respectively, of Environmental Services operating revenues were derived from its foreign operations.
Foreign operations are subject to inherent risks, including, among others, political instability, asset seizures, blockades, blacklisting, nationalization of assets, terrorist attacks, piracy, kidnapping, fluctuating currency values, hard currency shortages, controls on currency exchange, the repatriation of income or capital, import-export quotas and other forms of public and governmental regulation, all of which are beyond the control of Environmental Services. It is difficult to predict whether or when any of these conditions or events may develop in the future. The occurrence of any one or more of these conditions or events could have a material adverse effect on Environmental Services financial condition and its results of operations.
Commodity Trading and Logistics operates an integrated business involved in the purchase, storage, transportation and sale of agricultural and energy commodities. The principal commodities currently involved are rice, sugar, ethanol and clean blendstocks. Commodity Trading and Logistics contributed 28%, 13% and 1% of consolidated operating revenues in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Products and Services
Agricultural. The agricultural group is primarily focused on the global origination, trading and merchandising of rough and milled rice and sugar. This group typically sources rice from various export countries and arranges for the bundling and transport of the product to various import countries for sale in bulk or through local distribution networks. The groups involvement in sugar pairs producers and buyers and arranges for the transportation and logistics of the product.
Energy. The energy group is primarily focused on the domestic trading and transportation of physical ethanol and clean blendstocks. The energy group also operates, through an investment in a joint venture, a food and fuel grade processing plant which produces alcohol and ethanol. The output of the plant is sold primarily to the energy group and its joint venture partner.
Commodity Trading and Logistics uses a variety of transportation modes to transport its products, including trucks, railcars, river barges and ocean going vessels, which are generally leased. The transportation services are typically provided by truck lines, railroads and barge and ocean freight companies. From time to time, Commodity Trading and Logistics leverages the asset base of SEACORs other business units, primarily Inland River Services, for the transportation and storage of product.
Commodity Trading and Logistics activities are global and dependent upon factors that Commodity Trading and Logistics cannot control, including macro and micro economic supply and demand factors, governmental intervention or mandates, weather patterns, and the price and availability of substitute products. With respect to rice and sugar, the primary markets in which Commodity Trading and Logistics operate are countries that are net importers of these agricultural products and include countries in South America, the Caribbean and Africa. Commodity Trading and Logistics produces, purchases, markets and sells ethanol to customers for blending into the U.S. gasoline pool and transports clean blendstocks for export.
The availability of agricultural commodities is affected by weather, plant diseases, governmental policies and agricultural growing patterns. Rice demand is affected by growth in worldwide consumption of food products, population growth, changes in per capita income, the relative prices of substitute agricultural products and demand generated by beer consumption as rice is a significant input in the brewing process. Sugar demand is affected by growth in worldwide consumption of food products as well as soft drinks and sweetened beverages, population growth, changes in per capita income and the relative prices of substitute sweeteners.
Ethanol demand is subject to overall gasoline demand and gasoline blending economics, governmental policies and mandates, the cost of the production of feedstock commodities such as corn and sugar, gasoline and oil prices, freight and handling costs. The demand for the clean blendstocks depends primarily on oil and natural gas liquids prices.
Customers and Contractual Arrangements
Commodity Trading and Logistics sells agricultural commodities and processed commodity products to domestic and export customers throughout the world. Commodity Trading and Logistics sells both milled and rough rice globally to private import companies and government agencies overseeing grain imports. Commodity Trading and Logistics also has the flexibility to import, store and sell rice in smaller quantities in certain areas where the local market is unable to purchase large quantities. The principal purchasers of Commodity Trading and Logistics sugar are private importers and distributors. Commodity Trading and Logistics sells ethanol and blendstocks primarily to end users (gasoline blenders and their suppliers) and other market participants and may also purchase, sell, or exchange product with other market participants to optimize logistics or hedge market exposure.
In 2009, there was no single customer responsible for 10% or more of consolidated operating revenues. The ten largest customers of Commodity Trading and Logistics accounted for approximately 63% of Commodity Trading and Logistics operating revenues. The loss of one or a few of these customers could have a material adverse effect on Commodity Trading and Logistics results of operations.
The commodity trading and logistics business is highly competitive. Major competitors for the agricultural group include large agribusiness, major and independent trading houses and regional or local grower cooperatives. Major competitors for the energy group include other marketers, traders and other product suppliers.
Risk of Foreign Operations
For the year ended December 31, 2009 and 2008, 21% and 59% of Commodity Trading and Logistics operating revenues were derived from foreign operations. In 2007, no operating revenues were derived from foreign operations.
Foreign operations are subject to inherent risks, including, among others, political instability, asset seizures, blockades, blacklisting, nationalization of assets, terrorist attacks, piracy, kidnapping, fluctuating currency values, hard currency shortages, controls on currency exchange, the repatriation of income or capital, import-export quotas and other forms of public and governmental regulation, all of which are beyond the control of Commodity Trading and Logistics. It is difficult to predict whether or when any of these conditions or events may develop in the future. The occurrence of any one or more of these conditions or events could have a material adverse effect on Commodity Trading and Logistics financial condition and its results of operations.
Harbor and Offshore Towing Services. As of December 31, 2009, Harbor and Offshore Towing Services operated a total of 6 ocean liquid tank barges and 31 vessels, of which 15 were conventional tugs, six were Azimuth Stern Drive tugs, three were Forward Azimuth Drive tugs, three were tractor tugs and four were Ship Docking Modules (SDM). SDMs are innovative vessels designed and patented by the Company that are maneuverable, efficient and flexible and require fewer crew members than conventional harbor tugs. In 2009, no single customer was responsible for 10% or more of consolidated operating revenues. The ten largest customers of Harbor and Offshore Towing Services accounted for approximately 49% of Harbor and Offshore Towing Services operating revenues.
As of December 31, 2009, ten tugs were operating in Florida: four in Port Everglades, five in Tampa and one in Port Canaveral. Six tugs were operating in Port Arthur, Texas, three were operating in Mobile, Alabama and four were operating in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Three tugs were engaged in offshore towing operations. Five ocean liquid tank barges and five tugs were operating in St. Eustatius and one ocean liquid tank barge was available for charter.
Other Joint Ventures, Leasing and Other Activities. The Company has minority equity investments in various entities including a company that designs and manufactures water treatment systems for sale or lease, and two aviation service businesses in Asia. The Company also engages in lending and leasing activities.
The Companys operations are subject to significant United States federal, state and local regulations, as well as international conventions and the laws of foreign jurisdictions where the Company operates its equipment or where the equipment is registered. The Companys domestically registered vessels are subject to the jurisdiction of the USCG, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Maritime Administration, as well as to the rules of private industry organizations such as the American Bureau of Shipping. These agencies and organizations establish safety standards and are authorized to investigate vessels and accidents and to recommend improved maritime safety standards. Aviation Services is subject to regulations pursuant to the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended (Federal Aviation Act), and other
statutes pursuant to Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 Air Taxi Certificate granted by the FAA. The FAA regulates flight operations and, in this respect, has jurisdiction over Aviation Services personnel, aircraft, ground facilities and certain technical aspects of its operations. In addition to the FAA, the NTSB is authorized to investigate aircraft accidents and to recommend improved safety standards. The Company is also subject to the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, because of the use of radio facilities in Aviation Services operations.
Offshore Marine Services, Marine Transportation Services and Inland River Services are subject to the Shipping Act, 1916, as amended (1916 Act), and the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, as amended (1920 Act, or Jones Act and, together with the 1916 Act, Shipping Acts), which govern, among other things, the ownership and operation of vessels used to carry cargo between U.S. ports known as U.S. coastwise trade. The Shipping Acts require that vessels engaged in U.S. coastwise trade be owned by U.S. citizens and built in the United States. For a corporation engaged in the U.S. coastwise trade to be deemed a U.S. citizen: (i) the corporation must be organized under the laws of the United States or of a state, territory or possession thereof, (ii) each of the chief executive officer and the chairman of the board of directors of such corporation must be a U.S. citizen, (iii) no more than a minority of the number of directors of such corporation necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business can be non-U.S. citizens and (iv) at least 75% of the interest in such corporation must be owned by U.S. citizens (as defined in the Shipping Acts). Should the Company fail to comply with the U.S. citizenship requirements of the Shipping Acts, it would be prohibited from operating its vessels in the U.S. coastwise trade during the period of such non-compliance.
To facilitate compliance with the Shipping Acts, SEACORs Restated Certificate of Incorporation: (i) limits the aggregate percentage ownership by non-U.S. citizens of any class of SEACORs capital stock (including Common Stock) to 22.5% of the outstanding shares of each such class to ensure that such foreign ownership will not exceed the maximum percentage permitted by applicable maritime law (presently 25%) but authorizes SEACORs Board of Directors, under certain circumstances, to increase the foregoing percentage to 24%, (ii) requires institution of a dual stock certification system to help determine such ownership and (iii) permits the Board of Directors to make such determinations as reasonably may be necessary to ascertain such ownership and implement such limitations. In addition, SEACORs by-laws provide that the number of non-U.S. citizen directors shall not exceed a minority of the number necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business and restrict any non-U.S. citizen officer from acting in the absence or disability of the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Chief Executive Officer or the President.
Aviation Services helicopters operating in the United States are subject to registration and citizenship requirements under the Federal Aviation Act. This Act requires that before an aircraft may be legally operated in the United States, it must be owned by citizens of the United States, which, in the case of a corporation, means a corporation: (i) organized under the laws of the United States or of a state, territory or possession thereof, (ii) of which at least 75% of its voting interests are owned or controlled by persons who are U.S. citizens (as defined in the Federal Aviation Act and regulations promulgated thereunder), and (iii) of which the president and at least two-thirds of the board of directors and managing officers are U.S. citizens.
Marine Transportation Services, Inland River Services, Harbor and Offshore Towing Services and Offshore Marine Services operate vessels that are registered in the United States. Offshore Marine Services, Harbor and Offshore Towing Services, and an Inland River Services joint venture operate vessels registered in a number of foreign jurisdictions. Vessels registered in these jurisdictions are subject to the laws of the applicable jurisdiction as to ownership, registration, manning and safety. In addition, the vessels are subject to the requirements of a number of international conventions that are applicable to vessels depending on their jurisdiction of registration. Among the more significant of these conventions are: (i) the 1978 Protocol Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, (ii) the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 and 1978 Protocols, and (iii) the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978. The Company believes that its vessels registered in foreign jurisdictions are in compliance with all applicable material regulations and have all licenses necessary to conduct their business. In addition, vessels operated as standby safety vessels in the North Sea are subject to the requirements of the Department of Transport of the United Kingdom pursuant to the United Kingdom Safety Act.
All of Marine Transportation Services, Harbor and Offshore Towing Services, certain of Offshore Marine Services vessels and all of Inland River Services liquid tank barges are subject to periodic inspection and survey by, and drydocking and maintenance requirements of, the USCG and/or the American Bureau of Shipping and other marine classification societies. Moreover, to ensure compliance with applicable safety regulations, the USCG is authorized to inspect vessels at will.
NRC is classified by the USCG as an OSRO for every port in the continental United States, Hawaii and the Caribbean. The OSRO classification process is strictly voluntary. Vessel owners and other customers subject to OPA 90 who utilize classified OSROs are exempt from the requirement to list their response resources in their plans. The classification process permits the USCG and these customers to evaluate the ability of an OSRO to respond to and recover oil spills of various types and sizes in different operating environments and geographic locations.
In addition to the USCG, the EPA, the Office of Pipeline Safety, the MMS and certain individual states regulate vessels, facilities and pipelines in accordance with the requirements of OPA 90 or under analogous state law. There is currently little uniformity among the regulations issued by these agencies.
When responding to third-party oil spills, Environmental Services enjoys immunity from liability under federal law and some state laws for any spills arising from its response efforts, except in the event of death or personal injury as a result of its gross negligence or willful misconduct.
As more fully described below, all of the Companys businesses are, to some degree, subject to federal, state, local and international laws and regulations relating to environmental protection and occupational safety and health, including laws that govern the discharge of oil and pollutants into navigable waters. Violations of these laws may result in civil and criminal penalties, fines, injunctions or other sanctions.
The Company believes that its operations are currently in compliance with all material environmental laws and regulations. It does not expect that it will be required to make capital expenditures in the near future that are material to its financial position or operations to comply with environmental laws and regulations; however, because such laws and regulations are frequently changing and may impose increasingly strict requirements, the Company cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with these laws and regulations. The recent trend in environmental legislation and regulation is generally toward stricter standards, and it is the Companys view that this trend is likely to continue.
OPA 90 establishes a regulatory and liability regime for the protection of the environment from oil spills. OPA 90 applies to owners and operators of facilities operating near navigable waters and owners and operators of vessels operating in U.S. waters, which include the navigable waters of the United States and the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States. Although it appears to apply in general to all vessels, for purposes of its liability limits and financial responsibility and response planning requirements, OPA 90 differentiates between tank vessels (which include the Companys chemical and petroleum product vessels and liquid tank barges) and other vessels (which include the Companys tugs, offshore support vessels and dry cargo barges).
Under OPA 90, owners and operators of regulated facilities and owners and operators or certain charterers of vessels are responsible parties and are jointly, severally and strictly liable for removal costs and damages arising from facility and vessel oil spills unless the spill results solely from the act or omission of certain third parties under specified circumstances, an act of God or an act of war. Damages are defined broadly to include: (i) injury to natural resources and the costs of remediation thereof; (ii) injury to, or economic losses resulting from the destruction of, real and personal property; (iii) net loss by the United States government, a state or political subdivision thereof, of taxes, royalties, rents, fees and profits; (iv) lost profits or impairment of earning
capacity due to property or natural resources damage; (v) net costs of providing increased or additional public services necessitated by a spill response, such as protection from fire, safety or other hazards; and (vi) loss of subsistence use of available natural resources.
The statutory liability of responsible parties for tank vessels is limited to the greater of $1,200 per gross ton or $10 million ($2 million for a vessel of 3,000 gross tons or less) per vessel; for any other vessel, such liability is limited to the greater of $600 per gross ton or $500,000 per vessel. These liability limits do not apply (a) if an incident is caused by the responsible partys violation of federal safety, construction or operating regulations or by the responsible partys gross negligence or willful misconduct, (b) if the responsible party fails to report the incident or to provide reasonable cooperation and assistance in connection with oil removal activities as required by a responsible official or (c) if the responsible party fails to comply with certain governmental orders.
Under OPA 90, with certain limited exceptions, all newly-built oil tankers carrying crude oil and petroleum products in U.S. waters must have double-hulls. Existing single-hull, double-side or double-bottom tank vessels, unless retrofitted with double-hulls, must be phased out of service by January 1, 2015, depending upon the vessels size, age and place of discharge.
OPA 90 expanded pre-existing financial responsibility requirements and requires tank vessel owners and operators to establish and maintain with the USCG evidence of insurance or qualification as a self-insurer or other evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to meet their potential liabilities under OPA 90. The Company has satisfied USCG regulations by providing evidence of financial responsibility demonstrated by commercial insurance and self-insurance. The regulations also implement the financial responsibility requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), described below, which imposes liability for discharges of hazardous substances such as chemicals, in an amount equal to $300 per gross ton, thus increasing the overall financial responsibility in the case of tank vessels from $1,200 to $1,500 per gross ton.
OPA 90 amended the Clean Water Act (CWA), described below, to require the owner or operator of certain facilities or of a tank vessel to prepare facility or vessel response plans and to contract with oil spill removal organizations to remove, to the maximum extent practicable, a worst-case discharge. The Company has complied with these requirements. The Company expects its pollution liability insurance to cover any cost of spill removal subject to overall coverage limitations of $1.0 billion; however, a failure or refusal of the insurance carrier to provide coverage in the event of a catastrophic spill could result in material liability in excess of available insurance coverage, resulting in a material adverse effect on the Companys business, financial position or its results of operations.
OPA 90 allows states to impose their own liability regimes with respect to oil pollution incidents occurring within their boundaries and many states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for oil spills. Some states have issued regulations addressing financial responsibility and vessel and facility response planning requirements. The Company does not anticipate that state legislation or regulations will have any material impact on its operations.
In addition to OPA 90, the following are examples of environmental laws that relate to the Companys business and operations:
The federal CWA and comparable state and local laws impose restrictions on the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters of the United States. These laws also provide for civil and criminal penalties, as well as injunctive relief, for violations. A related statute, the Coastal Zone Management Act, authorizes state development and implementation of programs to manage non-point source pollution to restore and protect coastal waters.
The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and comparable state and local laws regulate the generation, transportation, treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous and certain non-hazardous wastes. These
laws also provide for civil and criminal penalties, as well as injunctive relief, for violations. The Companys operations may generate or, in some cases, result in the transportation of these regulated wastes.
CERCLA and comparable state laws establish strict and, under certain circumstances, joint and several liabilities for specified parties in connection with liability for the investigation and remediation of releases of hazardous materials into the environment and damages to natural resources.
The federal Clean Air Act and comparable state and local laws impose restrictions on the emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere. These laws also provide for civil and criminal penalties, as well as injunctive relief, for violations. The Companys chemical and petroleum product carrier vessels are subject to vapor control and recovery requirements when loading, unloading, ballasting, cleaning and conducting other operations in certain ports and are equipped with vapor control systems that satisfy these requirements in all material respects.
The Company manages exposure to losses from the above-described laws through its efforts to use only well-maintained, well-managed and well-equipped facilities and vessels and its development of safety and environmental programs, including a maritime compliance program and its insurance program. The Company believes it will be able to accommodate reasonably foreseeable environmental regulatory changes. There can be no assurance, however, that any future regulations or requirements or that any discharge or emission of pollutants by the Company will not have a material adverse effect on the Companys business, financial position or its results of operations.
Heightened awareness of security needs brought about by the events of September 11, 2001 has caused the USCG, the IMO, states and local ports to adopt heightened security procedures relating to ports and vessels. The Company has updated its procedures in light of the new requirements.
In 2002, Congress passed the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), which together with the IMOs recent security proposals (collectively known as the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code or ISPS), requires specific security plans for the Companys vessels and rigorous crew identification requirements. The following vessels are subject to the requirements of the ISPS:
The Company has implemented security plans and procedures for each of its U.S.-flag vessels and its terminal operation in Sauget, Illinois pursuant to rules implementing the MTSA that have been issued by the USCG. The Company anticipates that the costs of security for its business will continue to increase. The Companys U.S.-flag vessels subject to the requirements of ISPS, all foreign flag vessels, and U.S.-flag vessels operating on international voyages were in compliance with ISPS requirements effective July 1, 2004.
Industry Hazards and Insurance
Vessel operations involve inherent risks associated with carrying large volumes of cargo and rendering services in a marine environment. In addition, helicopter operations are potentially hazardous and may result in incidents or accidents. Hazards include adverse weather conditions, collisions, fire and mechanical failures, which may result in death or injury to personnel, damage to equipment, loss of operating revenues, contamination of cargo, pollution and other environmental damages and increased costs. The Company maintains marine and aviation hull, liability and war risk, general liability, workers compensation and other insurance customary in the industries in which the Company operates. The Company also conducts training and safety programs to promote a safe working environment and minimize hazards.
As of December 31, 2009, the Company employed 4,956 individuals directly and indirectly through crewing or manning agreements. Substantially all indirect employees support Offshore Marine Services vessel operations.
As of December 31, 2009, Offshore Marine Services employed 692 seafarers in the North Sea, some of whom were members of a union under the terms of an ongoing agreement. In the United States, a total of 316 employees in Marine Transportation Services and Harbor and Offshore Towing Services are unionized under agreements that expire at varying times through December 31, 2012. Certain individuals in Environmental Services are also represented by unions.
Management considers relations with its employees to be satisfactory.
Risks, Uncertainties and Other Factors That May Affect Future Results
The Companys results of operations, financial condition and cash flow can be adversely affected by numerous risks. Carefully consider the risks described below, which represent some of the more critical risk factors that affect the Company, as well as the other information that has been provided in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The risks described below are not the exclusive risks faced by the Company. Additional risks not presently known may also impair the Companys business operations.
Difficult economic conditions could materially adversely affect the Company. The success of the Companys business is both directly and indirectly dependent upon conditions in the global financial markets and economic conditions throughout the world that are outside its control and difficult to predict. Uncertainty about global economic conditions may lead businesses to postpone spending in response to tighter credit and reductions in income or asset values, which may lead many lenders and institutional investors to reduce, and in some cases, cease to provide funding to borrowers. These factors may also adversely affect the Companys liquidity and financial condition (including the failure of lenders participating in the Companys credit facility to fulfill their commitments and obligations), and the liquidity and financial condition of the Companys customers. Tight credit conditions could limit the Companys ability to secure additional financing, if required, due to difficulties accessing the capital markets. Factors such as interest rates, availability of credit, inflation rates, economic uncertainty, changes in laws (including laws relating to taxation), trade barriers, commodity prices, currency exchange rates and controls, and national and international political circumstances (including wars, terrorist acts or security operations) can have a material negative impact on the Companys business and investments, which could reduce its revenues and profitability. Although the Company has some ongoing exposure to credit risks on its accounts receivable balances, these risks are heightened during periods when economic conditions worsen. The Company has procedures that are designed to monitor and limit exposure to credit risk on its receivables; however, there can be no assurance that such procedures will effectively limit its credit risk and avoid losses that could have a material adverse effect on the Companys financial position and its results of operations. Unstable economic conditions may increase the volatility of the Companys stock price.
There are risks associated with the Companys debt structure. The Companys ability to meet its debt service obligations is dependent upon its future operating results, which are subject to general economic conditions, industry cycles and financial, business and other factors, many of which are beyond its control. The Companys debt levels and the terms of its indebtedness may limit its liquidity and flexibility in obtaining additional financing and pursuing other business opportunities. In addition, the Companys overall debt level and/or market conditions could lead the credit rating agencies to lower the Companys corporate credit ratings, which could limit its ability to issue additional debt in amounts and/or terms that it considers reasonable.
Demand for many of the Companys services is impacted by the level of activity in the offshore oil and natural gas exploration, development and production industry. The level of offshore oil and natural gas exploration, development and production activity has historically been volatile and that volatility is likely to continue. The level of activity is subject to large fluctuations in response to relatively minor changes in a variety of factors that are beyond the Companys control, including:
A prolonged material downturn in oil and natural gas prices is likely to cause a substantial decline in expenditures for exploration, development and production activity, which would result in a decline in demand and lower rates for the Companys offshore energy support services and tanker services. Moreover, for the year ended December 31, 2009, approximately 36% of Offshore Marine Services and 51% of Aviation Services operating revenues were earned in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and are therefore dependent on levels of activity in that region, which may differ from levels of activity in other regions of the world.
Adverse results of legal proceedings could materially adversely affect the Company. The Company is subject to and may in the future be subject to a variety of legal proceedings and claims that arise out of the ordinary conduct of its business. Results of legal proceedings cannot be predicted with certainty. Irrespective of its merits, litigation may be both lengthy and disruptive to the Companys operations and may cause significant expenditure and diversion of management attention. The Company may be faced with significant monetary damages or injunctive relief against it that could materially adversely affect a portion of its business operations or materially and adversely affect the Companys financial position and its results of operations should the Company fail to prevail in certain matters.
The Company may undertake one or more significant corporate transactions that may not achieve their intended results, may adversely affect the Companys financial condition and its results of operations and may result in additional risks to its businesses. The Company continuously evaluates the acquisition of operating businesses and assets and may in the future undertake significant transactions. Any such transaction could be material to the Companys business and could take any number of forms, including mergers, joint ventures, investments in new lines of business and the purchase of equity interests or assets. The form of consideration for such transactions may include, among other things, cash, common stock or equity interests in the Companys subsidiaries. The Company also evaluates the disposition of its operating businesses and assets, in whole or in part, which could take the form of asset sales, mergers or sales of equity interests in its subsidiaries (privately or through a public offering), or the spin-off of equity interests of the Companys subsidiaries to its stockholders.
These types of significant transactions may present significant risks and uncertainties, including distraction of management from current operations, insufficient revenue to offset liabilities assumed, potential loss of significant revenue and income streams, unexpected expenses, inadequate return of capital, regulatory or compliance issues, the triggering of certain covenants in the Companys debt instruments (including accelerated repayment) and other unidentified issues not discovered in due diligence. As a result of the risks inherent in such transactions, the Company cannot guaranty that any such transaction will ultimately result in the realization of the anticipated benefits of the transaction or that significant transactions will not have a material adverse impact on the Companys financial condition or its results of operations. If the Company were to complete such an acquisition, disposition, investment or other strategic transaction, it may require additional debt or equity financing that could result in a significant increase in its amount of debt or the number of outstanding shares of its Common Stock.
Risks from the Companys international operations. The Company operates vessels, leases helicopters, provides environmental services and transacts other business worldwide. Its ability to compete in the international offshore energy support market and environmental services market may be adversely affected by foreign government regulations that favor or require the awarding of contracts to local competitors, or that require foreign persons to employ citizens of, or purchase supplies from, a particular jurisdiction. Further, the Companys foreign subsidiaries may face governmentally imposed restrictions on their ability to transfer funds to their parent company.
Activity outside the United States involves additional risks, including the possibility of:
Unstable political, military and economic conditions in foreign countries where a significant proportion of Offshore Marine Services operations are conducted could adversely impact the Companys business. During the year ended December 31, 2009, approximately 63% of Offshore Marine Services operating revenues resulted from its foreign operations. These operations are subject to risks, including potential vessel seizure, terrorist attacks, piracy, kidnapping, and nationalization of assets, currency restrictions, import or export quotas and other forms of public and government regulation, all of which are beyond the Companys control. Economic sanctions or an oil embargo, for example, could have significant impact on activity in the oil and gas industry and, correspondingly, on the Company should Offshore Marine Services operate vessels in a country subject to any sanctions or embargo, or in the surrounding region to the extent any sanctions or embargo disrupt its operations.
Offshore Marine Services, Marine Transportation Services and Aviation Services rely on several customers for a significant share of their revenues, the loss of any of which could adversely affect each of their businesses and operating results. Offshore Marine Services, Marine Transportation Services and Aviation Services customers are primarily major oil companies and large independent oil and gas exploration and production companies. The portion of Offshore Marine Services, Marine Transportation Services or Aviation Services revenues attributable to any single customer may change over time, depending on the level of relevant activity by any such customer, the segments ability to meet the customers needs and other factors, many of which are beyond the Companys control. The loss of any large customer or several mid-size customers could have a material and adverse effect on such segments or the Companys financial position or its results of operations.
Consolidation of the Companys customer base could adversely affect demand for its services and reduce its revenues. In recent years, oil and natural gas companies, energy companies and drilling contractors have undergone substantial consolidation and additional consolidation is possible. Consolidation results in fewer companies to charter or contract for the Companys services. Also, merger activity among both major and independent oil and natural gas companies affects exploration, development and production activity as the consolidated companies integrate operations to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Less promising exploration and development projects of a combined company may be dropped or delayed. Such activity may result in an exploration and development budget for a combined company that is lower than the total budget of both companies before consolidation, which could adversely affect demand for the Companys Offshore Marine Services vessels, Marine Transportation Services tankers, Aviation Services helicopters and Environmental Services products and services, thereby reducing the Companys revenues.
The Company may be unable to maintain or replace its offshore support vessels as they age. As of December 31, 2009, the average age of the Companys Offshore Marine Services vessels, excluding its standby safety vessels, was approximately 10.6 years. The Company believes that after an offshore support vessel has been in service for approximately 20 years, the expense (which typically increases with age) necessary to satisfy
required marine certification standards may not be economically justifiable. The Company may be unable to carry out drydockings of its vessels or may be limited by insufficient shipyard capacity, which could adversely affect its ability to maintain its vessels. In addition, market conditions may not justify these expenditures or enable the Company to operate its older vessels profitably during the remainder of their economic lives. There can be no assurance that the Company will be able to maintain its fleet by extending the economic life of existing vessels, or that its financial resources will be sufficient to enable it to make expenditures necessary for these purposes or to acquire or build replacement vessels.
An increase in the supply of offshore support vessels or tankers could have an adverse impact on the charter rates earned by the Companys offshore support vessels and tankers. Expansion of the supply of the worldwide offshore support vessel fleet would increase competition in the markets which Offshore Marine Services operates. The refurbishment of disused or mothballed vessels, conversion of vessels from uses other than oil and gas exploration and production support and related activities or construction of new vessels could all add vessel capacity to current worldwide levels. A significant increase in vessel capacity could lower charter rates and result in lower operating revenues. Similarly, should competitors in the domestic petroleum and chemical product tanker industry construct a significant number of new tankers or large capacity integrated or articulated tug and barge units, demand for tanker assets could be adversely affected.
If the Company does not restrict the amount of foreign ownership of its Common Stock, it could be prohibited from operating offshore support vessels, inland river vessels and barges and tankers in parts of the United States and could be prohibited from operating helicopters, which would adversely impact its business and operating results. The Company is subject to the Shipping Acts, which govern, among other things, the ownership and operation of offshore support vessels, tankers and barges used to carry cargo between U.S. ports. The Shipping Acts require that vessels engaged in the U.S. coastwise trade be owned by U.S. citizens and built in the United States. The Company is also subject to regulations pursuant to the Federal Aviation Act and other statutes (Aviation Acts). Generally, aircraft operating in the United States must be registered in the United States. In order to register such aircraft under the Aviation Acts, the Company must be owned or controlled by U.S. citizens. Although the Companys Certificate of Incorporation and by-laws contain provisions intended to assure compliance with these provisions of the Shipping Acts and the Aviation Acts, a failure to maintain compliance would adversely affect the Companys financial position and its results of operations and the Company would be prohibited from operating vessels in the U.S. coastwise trade and helicopters in the United States during any period in which the Company did not comply with these regulations.
Repeal, Amendment, Suspension or Non-Enforcement of the Shipping Acts would result in additional competition for Offshore Marine Services, Marine Transportation Services and Inland River Services. A substantial portion of Offshore Marine Services, Marine Transportation Services and Inland River Services operations are conducted in the U.S. coastwise trade. Under certain provisions of the Shipping Acts, this trade is restricted to vessels built in the United States, owned and manned by U.S. citizens and registered under United States law. There have been attempts to repeal or amend such provisions, and such attempts are expected to continue in the future. Repeal of such provisions would result in additional competition from vessels built in lower-cost foreign shipyards, owned and manned by foreign nationals with promotional foreign tax incentives and with lower wages and benefits than U.S. citizens, which could have a material adverse effect on the Companys business, financial position and its results of operations.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, as amended, provides the federal government with broad discretion in regulating the leasing of offshore resources for the production of oil and gas. Because Offshore Marine Services and Aviation Services operations rely on offshore oil and gas exploration and production, the governments exercise of authority under the provisions of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to restrict the availability of offshore oil and gas leases could have a material adverse effect on the Companys financial position and its results of operations.
Failure to maintain an acceptable safety record may have an adverse impact on the Companys ability to retain customers. The Companys customers consider safety and reliability a primary concern in selecting a service provider. The Company must maintain a record of safety and reliability that is acceptable to its customers. Should this not be achieved, the ability to retain current customers and attract new customers may be adversely affected.
Operational risks could disrupt operations and expose the Company to liability. The operation of offshore support vessels, tankers, inland river towboats, tugs, helicopters, oil spill response vessels and barges is subject to various risks, including catastrophic disaster, adverse weather, mechanical failure and collision. Additional risks relating to the operation of helicopters include harsh weather and marine conditions, mechanical failures, crashes, and collisions, which may result in personal injury, loss of life, damage to property and equipment, and the suspension or reduction of operations. The Companys aircraft have been involved in accidents in the past, some of which have included loss of life and property damage. The Company may experience similar accidents in the future. Additional risks to vessels include adverse sea conditions, capsizing, grounding, oil and hazardous substance spills and navigation errors. These risks could endanger the safety of the Companys personnel, equipment, cargo and other property, as well as the environment. If any of these events were to occur, the Company could be held liable for resulting damages, including loss of revenues from or termination of charter contracts, higher insurance rates, and damage to the Companys reputation and customer relationships. In addition, the affected vessels or helicopters could be removed from service and would then not be available to generate revenues.
Revenues from Aviation Services are dependent on flight hours, which are subject to adverse weather conditions and seasonality. A significant portion of the Companys revenues from Aviation Services is dependent on actual flight hours. Prolonged periods of adverse weather, storms and the effect of fewer hours of daylight adversely impact Aviation Services. Winter months generally have more days of adverse weather conditions than the other months of the year, with poor visibility, high winds, and heavy precipitation and fewer daylight hours, all of which adversely affect helicopter operations. In addition, June through November is tropical storm season in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico; during tropical storms, helicopters are unable to operate in the area of a storm. In addition, many of Aviation Services facilities are located along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast, and tropical storms may cause damage to its property.
The helicopter industry is subject to intense competition. The helicopter industry is highly competitive and involves an aggressive bidding process among providers having the necessary equipment, operational experience and resources. The Company must provide safe and efficient service or risk losing customers or the termination of contracts, which could result in lost market share and have a material adverse effect on the Companys financial position and its results of operations.
Consolidation in the aircraft parts industry could affect the service and operation of Aviation Services helicopters. A reduction in the number of approved parts suppliers or a consolidation in the spare parts redistribution market could interrupt or delay the supply of aircraft components, adversely affecting Aviation Services ability to meet service commitments to customers and could cause Aviation Services to lose opportunities with existing and future customers. Aviation Services might not be able to qualify or identify alternative suppliers in a timely fashion, or at all. Consolidations involving suppliers could further reduce the number of alternatives for Aviation Services and affect the cost of components. An increase in the cost of components could make Aviation Services less competitive and result in lower margins.
Revenues from Marine Transportation Services could be adversely affected by a decline in demand for domestic refined petroleum products, crude oil or chemical products, or a change in existing methods of delivery. A reduction in domestic consumption of refined petroleum products, crude oil or chemical products, the development of alternative methods of delivery of refined petroleum, crude oil, and a reduction in domestic refining capacity could reduce demand for the Companys services.
Construction of additional refined petroleum product, natural gas or crude oil pipelines could have a material adverse effect on Marine Transportation Services revenues. Long-haul transportation of refined petroleum products, crude oil and natural gas is generally less costly by pipeline than by tanker. Existing pipeline systems are either insufficient to meet demand in, or do not reach all of, the markets served by Marine Transportation Services tankers. The construction and operation of new pipeline segments to the Florida market could have a material and adverse effect on Marine Transportation Services business.
The Company may have to phase-out its double-bottom tanker from petroleum product transportation service in U.S. waters. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 establishes a phase-out schedule, depending upon vessel size and age, for non-double-hull vessels carrying crude oil and petroleum products in the U.S. coastwise trade. The phase-out date for the Companys non-double-hull tanker, the Seabulk America, is 2015 and, unless this vessel is modified with a double-hull, which would require substantial capital expenditure, it will be prohibited from transporting crude oil and petroleum products in the U.S. coastwise trade after this date. It would also be prohibited from transporting petroleum products in most foreign and international markets under a phase-out schedule established by the International Maritime Organization.
The Company may lose eligibility for two tankers retrofitted to a double-hull configuration to engage in U.S. coastwise trade. Two of Marine Transportation Services tankers that operate in the U.S. coastwise trade, which is restricted to vessels built or rebuilt in the United States, were retrofitted to a double-hull configuration in a foreign shipyard. The Company is party to litigation regarding the eligibility of such tankers following the retrofit to engage in the U.S. coastwise trade, the loss of which could adversely affect the Companys financial condition and its results of operations. See Item 3. Legal Proceedings for a complete description of this litigation.
The Company is subject to complex laws and regulations, including environmental laws and regulations that can adversely affect the cost, manner or feasibility of doing business. Increasingly stringent federal, state, local and international laws and regulations governing worker safety and health and the manning, construction and operation of vessels significantly affect the Companys operations. Many aspects of the marine industry are subject to extensive governmental regulation by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the U.S. Customs Service, and to regulation by port states and class society organizations, such as the American Bureau of Shipping, as well as to international regulations from international treaties, such as the Safety of Life at Sea convention administered by port states and class societies. The USCG, OSHA and NTSB set safety standards and are authorized to investigate vessel accidents and recommend improved safety standards. The U.S. Customs Service and USCG are authorized to inspect vessels at will.
The Companys business and operations are also subject to federal, state, local and international laws and regulations that control the discharge of oil and hazardous materials into the environment or otherwise relate to environmental protection and occupational safety and health. Compliance with such laws and regulations may require installation of costly equipment or operational changes, and the phase-out of certain product tankers. Failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations may result in administrative and civil penalties, criminal sanctions or the suspension or termination of the Companys operations. Some environmental laws impose strict and, under certain circumstances, joint and several liability for remediation of spills and releases of oil and hazardous materials and damage to natural resources, which could subject the Company to liability without regard to whether it was negligent or at fault. These laws and regulations may expose the Company to liability for the conduct of or conditions caused by others, including charterers. Moreover, these laws and regulations could change in ways that substantially increase the Companys costs. The Company cannot be certain that existing laws, regulations or standards, as currently interpreted or reinterpreted in the future, or future laws and regulations will not have a material adverse effect on its business, results of operations and financial condition. For more information, see Item 1. Government RegulationEnvironmental Compliance.
Emergency response revenues are subject to significant volatility. Environmental Services response revenues and profitability are event driven and can vary greatly from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year based on the number and magnitude of responses.
A relaxation of oil spill regulation or enforcement could reduce demand for Environmental Services emergency response services. Environmental Services is dependent upon the enforcement of regulations promulgated under OPA 90, international conventions and, to a lesser extent, local regulations. Less stringent emergency regulations or less aggressive enforcement of these regulations could decrease demand for Environmental Services emergency response services. There can be no assurance that oil spill regulation will not be relaxed or enforcement of existing or future regulation will not become less stringent. If this happens, the demand for Environmental Services emergency response services could be adversely impacted.
A change in, or revocation of, National Response Corporations classification as an Oil Spill Removal Organization could result in a loss of business. The National Response Corporation (NRC) is classified by the USCG as an Oil Spill Removal Organization (OSRO). The USCG classifies OSROs based on their overall ability to respond to various types and sizes of oil spills. USCG-classified OSROs have a competitive advantage over non-classified service providers because customers of a classified OSRO are exempt from regulations that would otherwise require them to list their oil spill response resources in filings with the USCG. A loss of NRCs classification or changes in the requirements for classification could eliminate or diminish NRCs ability to provide customers with this exemption. If this happens, Environmental Services could lose customers.
Environmental Services could incur liability in connection with providing spill response services. Although Environmental Services is generally exempt in the United States from liability under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for its own actions and omissions in providing spill response services, this exemption might not apply if it were found to have been grossly negligent or to have engaged in willful misconduct, or if it were to have failed to provide these services consistent with applicable regulations and directives under the CWA. In addition, the exemption under the federal CWA would not protect Environmental Services against liability for personal injury or wrongful death, or against prosecution under other federal or state laws. Although most of the states within the United States in which Environmental Services provides services have adopted similar exemptions, several states have not. If a court or other applicable authority were to determine that Environmental Services does not benefit from federal or state exemptions from liability in providing emergency response services, Environmental Services could be liable together with the local contractor and the responsible party for any resulting damages, including damages caused by others. In the international market, Environmental Services does not benefit from the spill response liability protection provided by the CWA and therefore is subject to the liability terms and conditions negotiated with its international clients.
Inland River Services could experience variation in freight rates. Freight transportation rates may fluctuate as the volume of cargo and availability of barges changes. The volume of freight transported on the Inland River Waterways may vary as a result of various factors, such as global economic conditions and business cycles, domestic and international agricultural production and demand, and foreign currency exchange rates. Barge participation in the industry can also vary year-to-year and is dependent on the number of barges built and retired from service. Extended periods of high barge availability and low cargo demand could adversely impact Inland River Services.
Inland River Services results of operations could be adversely affected by the decline in U.S. grain exports. Inland River Services business is significantly affected by the volume of grain exports handled through ports in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Grain exports can vary due to a number of factors including crop harvest yield levels in the United States and abroad, and the demand for grain in the United States. A shortage of available grain overseas can increase demand for U.S. grain. Conversely, an abundance of grain overseas can decrease demand for U.S. grain. A decline in exports could result in excess barge capacity, which would likely lower freight rates earned by Inland River Services.
Inland River Services results of operations could be adversely affected by international economic and political factors. The actions of foreign governments could affect the import and export of the dry-bulk commodities typically transported by Inland River Services. Foreign trade agreements and each countrys adherence to the terms of such agreements can raise or lower demand for U.S. imports and exports of the dry-bulk commodities that Inland River Services transports. National and international boycotts and embargoes of other countries or U.S. imports or exports together with the raising or lowering of tariff rates could affect the demand for the transportation of cargos handled by Inland River Services. These actions or developments could have an adverse impact on Inland River Services.
Inland River Services results of operations are affected by seasonal activity. Inland River Services business is seasonal, and its quarterly revenues and profits have historically been lower in the first and second quarters of the year and higher in the third and fourth quarters, during the grain harvest.
Inland River Services results of operations are affected by adverse weather and river conditions. Weather patterns can affect river levels and cause ice conditions during winter months, which can hamper barge navigation. Locks and dams on river systems may be closed for maintenance or other causes, which may delay barge movements. These conditions could adversely impact Inland River Services.
The aging infrastructure on the U.S. Inland River Waterways may lead to increased costs and disruptions in Inland River Services operations. Many of the locks and dams on the U.S. Inland River Waterways were built early in the last century, and their age makes them costly to maintain and susceptible to unscheduled maintenance outages. Delays caused by malfunctioning locks and dams could increase Inland River Services operating costs and delay the delivery of cargos. Moreover, in the future, increased diesel fuel user taxes could be imposed to fund necessary infrastructure improvements, and such increases may not be recoverable by Inland River Services through pricing increases.
Inland River Services results of operations could be materially and adversely affected by fuel price fluctuations. For the most part, Inland River Services purchases towboat and fleeting services from third party vendors. The price of these services can rise when fuel prices escalate and could adversely impact Inland River Services results of operation.
The Companys insurance coverage may be inadequate to protect it from the liabilities that could arise in its businesses. Although the Company maintains insurance coverage against the risks related to its businesses, risks may arise for which the Company may not be insured. Claims covered by insurance are subject to deductibles, the aggregate amount of which could be material. Insurance policies are also subject to compliance with certain conditions, the failure of which could lead to a denial of coverage as to a particular claim or the voiding of a particular insurance policy. There also can be no assurance that existing insurance coverage can be renewed at commercially reasonable rates or that available coverage will be adequate to cover future claims. If a loss occurs that is partially or completely uninsured, the Company could be exposed to substantial liability.
The Companys global operations are subject to certain foreign currency, interest rate, fixed-income, equity and commodity price risks. The Company is exposed to certain foreign currency, interest rate, fixed-income, equity and commodity price risks. Some of these risks may be hedged, but fluctuations could impact the Companys financial position and its results of operations. The Company has, and anticipates that it will continue to have, contracts denominated in foreign currencies. It is often not practicable for the Company to effectively hedge the entire risk of significant changes in currency rates during a contract period. The Companys financial position and its results of operations have been negatively impacted for certain periods and positively impacted for other periods, and may continue to be affected to a material extent by the impact of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. The Companys financial position and its results of operations may also be affected by the cost of hedging activities that the Company undertakes. The Company holds a large proportion of its net assets in cash equivalents and short-term investments, including a variety of public and private debt and equity instruments. Such investments subject the Company to risks generally inherent in the capital markets. Given the
relatively high proportion of the Companys liquid assets relative to its overall size, its financial position and its results of operations may be materially affected by the results of the Companys capital management and investment activities and the risks associated with those activities. Volatility in the financial markets and overall economic uncertainty also increases the risk that the actual amounts realized in the future on the Companys debt and equity instruments could differ significantly from the fair values currently assigned to them. In addition, changes in interest rates may have an adverse impact on the Companys financial position and its results of operations.
Investment in new business strategies and initiatives present risks not originally contemplated. The Company has invested, and in the future may again invest, in new business plans or acquisitions. These activities may involve significant risks and uncertainties, including distraction of management from current operations, insufficient revenue to offset liabilities assumed and expenses associated with the plans or acquisitions, inadequate return of capital, and unidentified issues not discovered in due diligence. As a result of the risks inherent in new ventures, there can be no assurance that any such venture will be successful, or that new ventures will not have a material adverse impact on the Companys financial position and its results of operations.
Commodity Trading and Logistics results of operations may be materially adversely affected by the availability, demand and price of agricultural commodities, weather, disease, government programs, and competition. The availability and price of agricultural commodities may fluctuate widely due to unpredictable factors such as weather, plantings, government programs and policies, changes in global demand resulting from population growth and changes in standards of living, and global production of similar and competitive crops. Reduced supply of agricultural commodities due to weather-related factors or other reasons could adversely affect Commodity Trading and Logistics profitability. Reduced supplies of agricultural commodities could limit Commodity Trading and Logistics ability to procure, transport, store, process, and merchandise agricultural commodities in an efficient manner. In addition, the availability and price of agricultural commodities can be affected by other factors, such as plant disease, which can result in crop failures and reduced harvests.
Commodity Trading and Logistics is subject to economic downturns, political instability and other risks of doing business globally, which could adversely affect operating results. Commodity Trading and Logistics conducts its business in many countries and geographic areas, and plans to expand its business in emerging market areas such as Asia, Africa and parts of the Caribbean. Both developed and emerging market areas are subject to economic downturns and emerging market areas could be subject to more volatile economic, political and market conditions. Such economic downturns and volatile conditions may have a negative impact on Commodity Trading and Logistics ability to execute its business strategies and on its financial position and its results of operations. Commodity Trading and Logistics results of operations could be affected by changes in trade, monetary and fiscal policies, laws and regulations, and other activities of governments, agencies, and similar organizations, including political conditions, trade regulations affecting production, pricing and marketing of products, local labor conditions and regulations, burdensome taxes and tariffs, enforceability of legal agreements and judgments, and other trade barriers.
Commodity Trading and Logistics is subject to government policies and regulations, in general, and specifically those affecting the agricultural sector and related industries, which could adversely affect its operating results. Agricultural production and trade flows are subject to government policies and regulations. Governmental policies affecting the agricultural industry, such as taxes, tariffs, duties, subsidies, incentives and import and export restrictions on agricultural commodities and commodity products, can influence the planting of certain crops, the location and size of crop production, whether unprocessed or processed commodity products are traded, the volume and types of imports and exports, the availability and competitiveness of feedstocks as raw materials, and industry profitability. In addition, international trade disputes can adversely affect agricultural commodity trade flows by limiting or disrupting trade between countries or regions. Future government policies may adversely affect the supply of, demand for, and prices of Commodity Trading and Logistics products, restrict its ability to do business in its existing and target markets, and negatively impact revenues and operating results.
Commodity Trading and Logistics is subject to numerous laws and regulations globally that could adversely affect operating results. Commodity Trading and Logistics is required to comply with the numerous and broad reaching laws and regulations administered by United States federal, state, local, and foreign governmental agencies relating to, but not limited to, the sourcing, transporting, storing and merchandising of agricultural commodities and products. Any failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could subject Commodity Trading and Logistics to administrative penalties and injunctive relief, civil remedies, including fines, injunctions, and recalls of its products.
Commodity Trading and Logistics risk management strategies may not be effective. Commodity Trading and Logistics business is affected by fluctuations in agricultural commodity prices, transportation costs, energy prices, interest rates, and foreign currency exchange rates. Although Commodity Trading and Logistics may engage in hedging transactions to manage these risks, such transactions may not be successful in mitigating its exposure to these fluctuations and may adversely affect operating results.
The Companys inability to attract and retain qualified personnel could have an adverse effect on its business. Attracting and retaining skilled personnel across all of the Companys business segments is an important factor in its future success. The market for the personnel employed is highly competitive and the Company cannot be certain that it will be successful in attracting and retaining qualified personnel in the future.
The failure to successfully complete construction or conversion of the Companys vessels, repairs, maintenance or routine drydockings on schedule and on budget could adversely affect the Companys financial position and its results of operations. From time to time, the Company may have a number of vessels under conversion and may plan to construct or convert other vessels in response to current and future market conditions. The Company also routinely engages shipyards to drydock vessels for regulatory compliance and to provide repair and maintenance. Construction and conversion projects and drydockings are subject to risks of delay and cost overruns, resulting from shortages of equipment, lack of shipyard availability, unforeseen engineering problems, work stoppages, weather interference, unanticipated cost increases, inability to obtain necessary certifications and approvals and shortages of materials or skilled labor. A significant delay in either construction or drydockings could have a material adverse effect on contract commitments and revenues with respect to vessels under construction, conversion or undergoing drydockings. Significant cost overruns or delays for vessels under construction, conversion or retrofit could also adversely affect the Companys financial position and its results of operations.
A Violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act may adversely affect the Companys business and operations. In order to effectively compete in certain foreign jurisdictions, the Company seeks to establish joint ventures with local operators or strategic partners. As a U.S. corporation, the Company is subject to the regulations imposed by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which generally prohibits U.S. companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or maintaining business. The Company has adopted stringent procedures to enforce compliance with the FCPA, but it may be held liable for actions taken by its strategic or local partners even though these partners may not be subject to the FCPA. Any determination that the Company has violated the FCPA could have a material adverse effect on its business and results of operations.
An outbreak of any contagious disease, such as H1N1 Flu, may adversely affect the Companys business and operations. The outbreak of diseases, such as H1N1 Flu, commonly referred to as Swine Flu, has curtailed and may curtail travel to and from certain countries, or geographic regions. Restrictions on travel to and from these countries or other regions due to additional incidences for diseases, such as Swine Flu, could have a material adverse effect on the Companys business, financial position or its results of operations.
There are risks associated with climate change and environmental regulations. Governments around the world have, in recent years, placed increasing attention on matters affecting the environment and this could lead to new laws or regulations pertaining to climate change, carbon emissions or energy use that in turn could result
in a reduction in demand for hydrocarbon-based fuel. Governments could also pass laws or regulations encouraging or mandating the use of alternative energy sources such as wind power and solar energy, which may reduce demand for oil and natural gas and therefore the services provided by the Company. Such initiatives could have a material adverse effect on the Companys financial position and its results of operations.
Offshore support vessels, tankers, inland river towboats and barges, and helicopters are the principal physical properties owned by the Company and are more fully described in Offshore Marine Services, Marine Transportation Services, Inland River Services and Aviation Services in Item 1. Business.
Under United States law, United States persons are prohibited from business activities and contracts in certain countries, including Sudan and Iran. Relating to these prohibitions, Seabulk International, Inc., (Seabulk) a subsidiary of SEACOR acquired in July 2005, filed three reports with and submitted documents to the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury in December 1999 and January and May 2002. One of the reports was also filed with the Bureau of Export Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The reports and documents related to certain limited charters with third parties involving three Seabulk vessels that called in Sudan for several months in 1999 and January 2000 and charters with third parties involving several of Seabulks vessels that called in Iran in 1998. In March 2003, Seabulk received notification from OFAC that the case has been referred to its Civil Penalties Division. Should OFAC determine that these activities constituted violations of the laws or regulations, civil penalties, including fines, could be assessed against Seabulk or certain individuals who knowingly participated in such activity. The Company cannot predict the extent of such penalties; however, management does not believe the outcome of these matters will have a material impact on its consolidated financial position or its results of operations.
During 2006 and 2007, Marine Transportation Services (MTS) had two of its tankers retrofitted to a double-hull configuration in a foreign shipyard to enable each of them to continue to transport crude oil and petroleum products beyond their OPA 90 mandated retirement dates in 2011. Both vessels operate in the U.S. coastwise trade that, under the Shipping Acts, is restricted to vessels built or rebuilt in the United States. In May 2005, MTS received a determination from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), which administers the United States build requirements of the Shipping Acts, concluding the retrofit work would not constitute a foreign rebuilding and therefore would not jeopardize the tankers eligibility to operate in the U.S. coastwise trade. MTS completed the retrofit work in the foreign shipyard in reliance upon the USCGs determination, which MTS believes was correct and in accord with the USCGs long-standing regulations and interpretations. On July 9, 2007, a U.S. shipbuilders trade association and two operators of tankers in the U.S. coastwise trade (Shipbuilders) commenced a civil action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Shipbuilders Council of America, Inc., et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, et al. , No. 1:07cv665 (E.D. Va.) (the SB Trader Litigation), in which they sought to have the court set aside the USCGs determination and direct the USCG to revoke the coastwise license of one of the two retrofitted tankers, the Seabulk Trader. MTS intervened in the action to assist the USCG in defending its determination. On April 24, 2008, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion granting a motion for summary judgment by Shipbuilders setting aside the USCGs determination and remanding the matter to the USCG for further proceedings with instructions to revoke the coastwise endorsement of the Seabulk Trader. On April 30, 2008, MTS appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (the Court of Appeals), and the lower courts decision was stayed pending appeal, subject to certain terms (which MTS has also separately appealed). Those terms require that MTS pay to the plaintiffs 12.5% of the revenue generated by the Seabulk Trader from November 7, 2008 in the event that the Court of Appeals affirms
the lower courts decision to revoke its coastwise endorsement (the Undertaking). On July 2, 2008, Shipbuilders commenced a second civil action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, entitled Shipbuilders Council of America, Inc., et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, et al., No. 1:08cv680 (E.D. Va.) (the SB Challenge Litigation), alleging essentially identical claims as those asserted in the SB Trader Litigation against MTSs second retrofitted tanker, the Seabulk Challenge. MTS has intervened in the SB Challenge Litigation that was stayed pending the decision of the Court of Appeals in the SB Trader Litigation. In September 2009, the Court of Appeals reversed the District Court, holding that the USCGs interpretation was correct and that the District Court erred in requiring MTS to provide the Undertaking. On January 19, 2010, the District Court: (i) vacated its April 24, 2008 Order to the extent it directed the USCG to revoke the coastwise endorsement for the Seabulk Trader; (ii) vacated its November 14, 2008 Order providing for the Undertaking; and (iii) remanded the matter to the USCG for further proceedings to reconsider the decision to grant a coastwise endorsement of the Seabulk Trader consistent with the opinion of the Court of Appeals. The loss of coastwise eligibility for its two retrofitted tankers could adversely affect the Companys financial condition and its results of operations. The aggregate carrying value of the Companys two retrofitted tankers was $53.1 million as of December 31, 2009 and such tankers contributed operating revenues of $20.2 million during the year ended December 31, 2009.
Certain subsidiaries of the Company are participating employers in an industry-wide, multi-employer, defined benefit pension fund, the United Kingdom Merchant Navy Officers Pension Fund (MNOPF). Under the direction of a court order, any deficit of the MNOPF is to be remedied through funding contributions from all participating employers. The Companys participation relates to officers employed between 1978 and 2002 by SEACORs Stirling group of companies (which had been acquired by SEACOR in 2001) and its predecessors. Based on an actuarial valuation of the MNOPF in 2003, the Company was invoiced and expensed $4.4 million in 2005, representing the Companys allocated share of a total funding deficit of $412.0 million. Subsequent to this invoice, the pension fund trustees determined that $49.0 million of the $412.0 million deficit was deemed uncollectible due to the non-existence or liquidation of certain participating employers and the Company was invoiced and expensed $0.6 million in March 2007 for its allocated share of the uncollectible deficit. Based on an actuarial valuation of the MNOPF in 2006, the Company was invoiced and expensed $3.9 million in September 2007, representing the Companys allocated share of an additional funding deficit of $332.6 million. The preliminary results of the most recent actuarial valuation of the MNOPF in 2009 indicated that an additional net funding deficit of $720.0 million (£450.0 million) had developed since the previous actuarial valuation in 2006 and the Company estimates its allocated share of the deficit at $8.64 million (£5.4 million). When the Company is invoiced for its share, it will recognize payroll related operating expenses in the periods invoices are received. Depending on the results of the most recent and future actuarial valuations, it is possible that the MNOPF will experience further funding deficits, requiring the Company to recognize payroll related operating expenses in the periods invoices are received.
A subsidiary of the Company is a participating employer in an industry-wide, multi-employer, defined benefit pension fund, the United Kingdom Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund (MNRPF). The Companys participation relates to ratings employed between 1978 and 2001 by SEACORs Stirling group of companies (which had been acquired by SEACOR in 2001) and its predecessors. Based on an actuarial valuation in March 2008, the MNRPF has an accumulated funding deficit of $284.2 million. No decision has yet been reached as to how the deficit will be recovered, but the Company expects it is likely that participating employers will be invoiced for their allocated share, at which time the Company would recognize payroll related operating expenses. The Company estimates its allocated share of the uninvoiced deficit to be approximately $1.0 million. Depending on the results of the most recent and future actuarial valuations, it is possible that the MNRPF will experience further funding deficits, requiring the Company to recognize payroll related operating expenses in the periods invoices are received.
On June 12, 2009, a purported civil class action was filed against SEACOR, Era Group Inc., Era Aviation, Inc., Era Helicopters LLC and two other defendants (collectively the Defendants) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Superior Offshore International, Inc. v. Bristow Group Inc., et al., No. 09-CV-438 (D.Del.). SEACOR acquired Era Group Inc., Era Aviation, Inc., and Era Helicopters LLC in December 2004.
The complaint alleges that the Defendants violated federal antitrust laws by conspiring with each other to raise, fix, maintain or stabilize prices for offshore helicopter services in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico during the period January 2001 to December 2005. The purported class of plaintiffs includes all direct purchasers of such services and the relief sought includes compensatory damages and treble damages. The Company is unable to estimate the potential exposure, if any, resulting from these claims but believes they are without merit and intends to vigorously defend the action. On September 4, 2009, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. The District Court has yet to rule on that motion.
SEACOR Marine, LLC, a subsidiary of the Company, has two pending actions against it for alleged breaches of the California Wage Act. Bailey v. SEACOR Marine, LLC, is a class action filed on behalf of the crew members (current and terminated) who worked on the Companys vessels while they were based in California. Schoenfeld v. SEACOR Marine, LLC, is an individual claim filed by Mr. Schoenfeld, even though he himself is a member of the class described in the Bailey case. At this early stage, no definitive estimate can be made as to the probability or magnitude of exposure in the cases. Outside legal counsels initial investigation suggests that there is a substantial legal question as to whether federal maritime law preempts the application of state law to the SEACOR vessels in question. If the court decides California wage laws do apply, and a class is certified, there may be financial exposure. Mediation is scheduled for the end of February 2010, and the Company intends to vigorously defend against these claims.
In the normal course of its business, the Company becomes involved in various other litigation matters including, among other things, claims by third parties for alleged property damages and personal injuries. Management has used estimates in determining the Companys potential exposure to these matters and has recorded reserves in its financial statements related thereto where appropriate. It is possible that a change in the Companys estimates of that exposure could occur, but the Company does not expect such changes in estimated costs would have a material effect on the Companys consolidated financial position or its results of operations.
No matters were submitted to a vote of security holders during the fourth quarter of 2009.
EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT
Officers of SEACOR serve at the pleasure of the Board of Directors. The name, age and offices held by each of the executive officers of SEACOR as of December 31, 2009 were as follows:
Market for the Companys Common Stock
SEACORs Common Stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the trading symbol CKH. Set forth in the table below for the periods presented are the high and low sale prices for SEACORs Common Stock.
As of February 19, 2010, there were 847 holders of record of Common Stock.
SEACOR has not paid any cash dividends in respect of its Common Stock since its inception in December 1989 and has no intention to pay any dividends in the foreseeable future. Any payment of future dividends will be at the discretion of SEACORs Board of Directors and will depend upon, among other factors, the Companys earnings, financial condition, current and anticipated capital requirements, plans for expansion, level of indebtedness and contractual restrictions, including the provisions of the Companys revolving credit facility or other then-existing indebtedness. The payment of future cash dividends, if any, would be made only from assets legally available.
Set forth in the graph below is a comparison of the cumulative total return that a hypothetical investor would have earned assuming the investment of $100 over the five-year period commencing on December 31, 2004 in (i) the Common Stock of the Company, (ii) the Standard & Poors 500 Stock Index (S&P 500) and (iii) the Simmons Offshore Transportation Index, an index of oil service companies published by Simmons and Company, Inc. (the Simmons Peer Index).
Issuer Repurchases of Equity Securities and Debt
From time to time, SEACORs Board of Directors grants authorization to repurchase shares of Common Stock and, up until their redemption in December 2009, its 2.875% Convertible Debentures. In 2009, 2008 and 2007, the Company acquired 606,576, 2,824,717 and 2,366,880 shares, respectively, of Common Stock for treasury for an aggregate purchase price of $45.9 million, $240.1 million and $213.3 million, respectively. In 2009, the Company repurchased $3.8 million, principal amount, of its 2.875% Convertible Debentures for an aggregate purchase price of $3.7 million. As of December 31, 2009, $102.2 million of the repurchase authority granted by SEACORs Board of Directors remained available and, on February 18, 2010, SEACORs Board of Directors increased the repurchase authority for a total expenditure of up to $250.0 million.
Additionally, the Company may purchase, separate from such authorization noted above, any or all of its 5.875% Senior Notes and its 7.375% Senior Notes. Securities may be acquired through open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions or otherwise, depending on market conditions.
SELECTED HISTORICAL FINANCIAL INFORMATION
The following table sets forth, for the periods indicated, selected historical consolidated financial data for the Company (in thousands, except per share data). Such financial data should be read in conjunction with Item 7. Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data included in Parts II and IV, respectively, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Certain prior period information has been retrospectively adjusted to reflect the adoption of new accounting rules established by the Financial Accounting Standards Board related to the Companys convertible debt (see Part IV Note 8. Long-Term Debt of this Annual Report on Form 10-K).
Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations below presents the Companys operating results for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2009, and its financial condition as of December 31, 2009. Except for the historical information contained herein, this Annual Report on Form 10-K and other written and oral statements that the Company makes from time to time contain forward-looking statements, which involve substantial known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause the actual results, performance or achievements of results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. The Company has tried, wherever possible, to identify such statements by using words such as anticipate, estimate, expect, project, intend, believe, plan, target, forecast and similar expressions in connection with any discussion of future operating or financial performance. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially are those discussed in Risks, Uncertainties and Other Factors That May Affect Future Results in Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition, the following Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations should be read in connection with the information presented in the Companys consolidated financial statements and the related notes to its consolidated financial statements.
SEACOR and its subsidiaries are in the business of owning, operating, investing in and marketing equipment, primarily in the offshore oil and gas, industrial aviation and marine transportation industries. The Company conducts its activities in six primary business segments:
Offshore Marine Services operates a diversified fleet of offshore support vessels primarily servicing offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production facilities worldwide.
Marine Transportation Services operates a fleet of U.S.-flag product tankers carrying petroleum, crude oil and chemical products in the U.S. coastwise trade.
Inland River Services is primarily engaged in dry and liquid cargo transportation on the U.S. Inland River Waterways and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterways for a range of agricultural and industrial products.
Aviation Services operates and leases helicopters that provide transportation services supporting offshore oil and gas activities primarily in the United States, air medical services to hospitals in the United States and industrial aviation services in South America, Europe, India and Asia.
Environmental Services is primarily engaged in the provision of emergency preparedness and response services to oil, chemical, industrial and marine transportation clients in the United States and abroad.
Commodity Trading and Logistics is an integrated business involved in the purchase, storage, transportation and sale of agricultural and energy commodities.
Other primarily includes Harbor and Offshore Towing Services, various other investments in joint ventures and lending and leasing activities.
The Companys business segments, with the exception of Environmental Services and Commodity Trading and Logistics, are asset related and highly capital-intensive. Demand for the Companys assets is cyclical in varying degrees due to fluctuations in the activity levels in the industries serviced by those assets, as well as availability of supply.
To manage capital successfully over time, the Company continually assesses its asset portfolio and pursues opportunities to realize value from its assets by shifting their operation to other markets or trading them when circumstances warrant. The Company actively leases out and leases in, and buys and sells equipment in the ordinary course of its business. It also designs, orders, builds, upgrades, operates or re-sells newly constructed equipment. The Company typically pursues a strategy of shedding older assets while adjusting its asset mix. The Company also leases assets to other operators and sells assets to financial lessors and leases them back for varying periods of time. The Company believes that maintaining significant liquidity is an important factor that will enable it to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
In recent years, the Company has sought to create balance in its businesses and broaden its asset base by investing in barges, ships and tugs, and by looking for opportunities to engage in logistics support for movement of agricultural and energy commodities.
The Company is exploring opportunities to extend its aviation activities through investments in sales, marketing and distribution of aircraft and specialized parts and services, maintenance and repair facilities and fixed base operations. In addition, the Company is also looking to expand into the Chinese and Indian markets.
The Company believes that demand for its barges, tankers and tugs is, in part, linked to different factors than those that drive demand for offshore oil and gas exploration and development. In addition, for barges and tankers, contracts can sometimes be secured with longer terms than those typically available for offshore marine and helicopter services. The expectation is that over time this strategy of diversification will provide better returns on capital than could be achieved by restricting investment to one specific, highly cyclical, asset class such as marine vessels supporting offshore oil and gas activity. The Company believes this strategy will afford more opportunities to use capital efficiently, create greater stability of earnings and allow improved margins due to operational synergies that in turn, should yield a lower cost of capital, more sustainable cash flows and increased profitability.
Consolidated Results of Operations
Consolidated financial data for segment and geographic areas is reported in Part IV Note 15. Major Customers and Segment Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Offshore Marine Services
The market for offshore oil and gas drilling has historically been cyclical. Demand tends to be linked to the price of oil and gas and those prices tend to fluctuate depending on many factors, including global economic activity and levels of inventory. Price levels for oil and gas can in themselves cause additional fluctuations by inducing changes in consumer behavior. The cyclicality of the market is further exacerbated by the tendency in the industry to order capital assets as demand grows, often resulting in new capacity becoming available just as demand for oil and gas is peaking and activity is about to decline.
The precipitous drop in oil and gas prices during the second half of 2008 reduced offshore activity to some degree and this continued during 2009. The Company responded to these market conditions by cold-stacking a number of vessels previously operating in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. As of December 31, 2009, the Company had 19 vessels cold-stacked. The term cold-stacked means unmanned and not working. The Company continues to monitor market conditions and will cold-stack additional vessels, or place vessels back into service, as it deems appropriate. The domestic order book is smaller than the international order book, but there continues to be over capacity in the U.S. market. In addition, deliveries of newly built vessels into the international market, in conjunction with reduced demand, has created a situation of oversupply in the North Sea, Asia, Middle East and West Africa regions. This situation is likely to worsen during 2010 as more newly built vessels are delivered, even if some orders are cancelled or vessel deliveries are delayed.
Reduced activity, combined with tighter capital and credit markets, has created uncertainty over new construction of offshore equipment. The order book for new equipment remains large but there are uncertainties as to if and when these assets will be delivered. Many of these assets were ordered without firm contractual commitments for employment and should these assets be delivered and placed into service there could be an adverse impact on market conditions.
Over the last several years, Offshore Marine Services has disposed of its old generation equipment while taking delivery of new vessels specifically designed to meet the changing requirements of the market. Since December 31, 2007, the average age of the fleet, excluding standby safety vessels, has been reduced from 12.8 years to 10.6 years. Offshore Marine Services enters 2010 with a limited order book for new equipment and believes its diverse fleet and broad geographical distribution of vessels will assist in weathering the effects of the industry downturn. The Companys strong financial position should enable Offshore Marine Services to capitalize on opportunities as they develop for purchasing, mobilizing or upgrading vessels to meet changing market conditions. As of December 31, 2009, Offshore Marine Services had three Fast Support vessels under construction in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
The number and type of vessels operated, their rates per day worked and their utilization levels are the key determinants of Offshore Marine Services operating results and cash flows. Unless a vessel is cold-stacked (removed from operational service), there is little reduction in daily running costs and, consequently, operating margins are most sensitive to changes in rates per day worked and utilization.
The aggregate cost of Offshore Marine Services operations depends primarily on the size and asset mix of the fleet. Offshore Marine Services costs and expenses include daily running costs and fixed costs. Daily running costs are primarily comprised of wages paid to marine personnel, maintenance and repairs and insurance, which vary depending on equipment type, location and activity. The most significant components of maintenance and repair expenses are drydock and main engine overhaul costs, which are expensed as incurred. Vessel drydockings are regularly performed in accordance with applicable regulations and main engine overhauls are performed in accordance with a planned maintenance program. If a disproportionately large number of drydockings or overhauls are undertaken in a particular fiscal year or calendar quarter, operating expenses may vary significantly when compared with the prior year or quarter. Inflationary pressure on all operating costs, which had been significant for a number of years, continued moderate during 2009.
Results of Operations
Operating Revenues2009 compared with 2008. Overall operating revenues decreased by $146.4 million in 2009 compared with 2008. Time charter revenues decreased by $155.2 million and other operating revenues, including third party brokered vessel activity, bareboat charter revenues and other marine services, increased by $8.8 million.
The number of days available for charter in 2009 was 55,516 compared with 63,227 in 2008, a 7,711 or 12% reduction due to net fleet dispositions. Overall fleet utilization was 73% in 2009 compared with 83% in 2008. Net fleet dispositions, the impact of vessels mobilizing between geographic regions, changes in utilization and other changes in fleet mix combined to reduce time charter revenues by $113.8 million.
Overall average day rates were $12,223 per day in 2009 compared with $12,396 in 2008, a decrease of $173 per day or 1%. In overall terms, there was a decrease in base average day rates which reduced time charter revenues by $29.6 million. In addition, the impact of unfavorable changes in currency exchange rates, primarily between the U.S. Dollar and the pound sterling, reduced time charter revenues by $11.8 million.
In the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, time charter revenues were $129.0 million lower in 2009 compared with 2008 primarily due to a reduction in rig moving activity and a 23% reduction in utilization attributable mainly to the cold-stacking of additional vessels during 2009.
Time charter revenues were lower in West Africa and the Middle East due to net fleet dispositions, and were lower in the North Sea due to unfavorable currency exchange rate movements between the U.S. dollar and the pound sterling. Time charter revenues increased in Asia primarily due to mobilizing vessels from other geographic regions, and in Mexico, Central and South America due to improved utilization and day rates.
Operating Income2009 compared with 2008. Operating income in 2009 included $22.5 million of gains on asset dispositions compared with $69.2 million of gains in 2008. Excluding the impact of these gains, operating income decreased by $53.8 million. The decrease in operating revenues noted above was partially offset by an $80.5 million decrease in operating expenses primarily due to net fleet dispositions, a reduction in the number of scheduled drydockings and cold-stacking of additional vessels in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Administrative and general expenses were $11.4 million lower in 2009 compared with 2008 primarily due to the impact of restructuring the international group in late 2008.
Operating Revenues2008 compared with 2007. Overall operating revenues increased by $16.3 million in 2008 compared with 2007. Overall average day rates increased from $11,519 per day in 2007 to $12,396 per day in 2008, resulting in additional operating revenues of $36.5 million. Overall utilization improved from 81% in 2007 to 83% in 2008, resulting in an increase in operating revenues of $6.5 million. Total days available for charter decreased in 2008 by 7,745, or 11%, due to net fleet dispositions which resulted in a decrease in operating revenues of $35.9 million. Operating revenues were $22.9 million higher in 2008 due to increased third party vessel brokerage activity in the Middle East, higher other marine services revenues and increased bareboat charter hire in South America and Asia. Operating revenues were $13.7 million lower due to the impact of downtime for vessel mobilizations and unfavorable exchange rate changes in the North Sea.
Operating Income2008 compared with 2007. Operating income in 2008 included $69.2 million of gains on asset dispositions compared with $82.5 million of gains in 2007. Excluding the impact of these gains, operating income decreased by $0.9 million. The improvements in operating revenues noted above were offset by higher operating expenses, primarily due to higher crew wage expense, higher regulatory dry dock expense and an increase in third party charter-in expense as a result of increased third party vessel brokerage activity. Administrative and general expenses were $6.5 million higher in 2008 primarily due to higher provisions for doubtful accounts, costs incurred for international staff severance and expenses related to hurricane disruptions in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Depreciation expense was $4.9 million lower in 2008 due to net fleet dispositions.
Equity in Earnings of 50% or Less Owned Companies. Results in 2008 included a gain on the sale of a vessel in a Norwegian joint venture and results in 2007 included gains on the sale of its interests in joint ventures in Egypt and South America.
The table below sets forth average rates per day worked, utilization and available days data for each group of Offshore Marine Services vessels operating under time charters for the periods indicated. The rate per day worked is the ratio of total time charter revenues to the aggregate number of days worked. Utilization is the ratio of aggregate number of days worked to total calendar days available for work. Available days represents the total calendar days during which owned and chartered-in vessels are operated by the Company.
Marine Transportation Services
Demand for the Companys tankers is dependent on several factors, including petroleum production and refining activity levels in the United States, domestic consumer and commercial consumption of petroleum products and chemicals and competition from foreign imports of oil products. During 2007 and 2006, orders placed for the construction of new double-hulled vessels qualified for operation in the U.S. coastwise trade created uncertainty as to whether the market would be able to absorb such additional capacity. In response to the uncertainty of both demand and supply factors and in order to secure a portion of the fleets future earnings,
Marine Transportation Services entered into a firm nine year arrangement to bareboat charter-out four vessels with staggered delivery dates. The first vessel began its charter in March 2007, the second in September 2008, the third in January 2010 and the fourth is due to commence its charter in the third quarter of 2010.
As of December 31, 2009, the Company believes third parties had contracted to build approximately 20 U.S.-flag tank vessels that could compete with Marine Transportation Services equipment. Fifteen vessels are scheduled to be delivered in 2010, three vessels in 2011, and the remaining two in 2012 or 2013. It is anticipated that retirements of U.S.-flag tank vessels under OPA 90 regulations will be one in 2010, four in 2011 and another twelve between 2012 and January 1, 2015.
The following table presents, for the years indicated, the percentage of revenues Marine Transportation Services earned from its charter arrangements.
Marine Transportation Services costs and expenses include daily running costs and fixed costs. Daily running costs are primarily comprised of wages paid to marine personnel, maintenance and repairs and insurance, which vary depending on equipment type, location and activity. The most significant components of maintenance and repair expenses are drydocking costs, which are expensed as incurred. Vessel drydockings are regularly performed in accordance with applicable regulations and if a disproportionately large number of drydockings are undertaken in a particular fiscal year or calendar quarter, operating expenses may vary significantly when compared with a prior year or quarter.
Depreciation is Marine Transportation Services principal fixed cost. Depreciation depends on the acquisition costs of vessels and their related useful life and salvage value assumptions.
The Company believes the Seabulk America is one of six vessels designed and certified to carry complicated chemical cargos in the domestic coastwise trade. Given the overriding effects of the global economic slowdown, demand for the vessels specialized services was soft during 2009. The Company believes the chemical industry is undergoing a cyclical market down-turn that will gradually recover; however, the Seabulk America requires a regulatory dry-docking during the third quarter of 2010, a requirement for continued operation. A decision as to whether or not this expenditure should be incurred will be made against the then prevailing market conditions. A decision to cease vessel operations and lay-up the Seabulk America amid continued weak market conditions could potentially result in a significant impairment charge. The carrying value of the Seabulk America was $26.5 million as of December 31, 2009, with contributed operating revenues of $12.4 million during the year ended December 31, 2009.
Results of Operations
Operating Revenues2009 compared with 2008. Operating revenues were $21.2 million lower in 2009 compared with 2008, primarily due to changes in the contract status of three vessels: one from time charter to long-term bareboat charter commencing in September 2008; a second from spot market to time charter commencing in April 2009; and a third from spot market to time charter commencing in August 2009. The third vessel was also off-hire for 28 days in 2009 while undergoing regulatory drydocking and repairs. Operating revenues for two other vessels decreased due to lower utilization, one of which was temporarily laid-up between August 2009 and the end of the year. Operating revenues were higher for two vessels that underwent regulatory drydockings in 2008.
Operating Income (Loss)2009 compared with 2008. Operating income was $0.9 million lower in 2009 compared with 2008. Operating income in 2008 included gains of $3.6 million on the sale of the Seabulk Magnachem and Seabulk Power. Excluding the impact of these gains, operating income was $2.7 million higher in 2009 compared with 2008. The reductions in operating revenues noted above were offset by reductions in operating expenses for three vessels in line with the changes in contract status noted above. Operating income was higher for the two vessels that were drydocked in 2008 and lower for the vessel that was drydocked in 2009.
Operating Revenues2008 compared with 2007. Operating revenues decreased by $2.0 million in 2008 compared with 2007. Operating revenues were lower due to the sale and subsequent scrapping of the Seabulk Power in January 2008 and the Seabulk Magnachem in March 2008, out-of-service time for two vessels while undergoing regulatory dockings in 2008, and the change in contract status of the Mississippi Voyager (formerlySeabulk Mariner) and California Voyager (formerlyBrenton Reef) from time charter to long-term bareboat charter in March 2007 and September 2008, respectively. Operating revenues were higher for two vessels that incurred significant out-of-service time in 2007 while undergoing retrofits to double-hull configuration, and for another that operated at a higher average day rate in 2008.
Operating Income (Loss)2008 compared with 2007. Operating income increased by $25.3 million in 2008 compared with 2007 primarily due to lower costs and expenses. Operating expenses were lower primarily due to the sale and subsequent scrapping of the Seabulk Power and Seabulk Magnachem, lower drydocking expenses and the change in contract status of the Mississippi Voyager (formerlySeabulk Mariner) and California Voyager (formerlyBrenton Reef) from time charter to long-term bareboat charters. In addition, depreciation charges were lower due to the sale of the Seabulk Power and the extension of the retrofitted tankers useful lives. Operating income in 2008 included $3.6 million in gains on asset dispositions.
Inland River Services
For the inland river industry, 2009 can best be summed up as a year that started and finished strongly but struggled in the middle. It was a year which, at its worst, saw 20 25% of the available barge fleet idled with spot freight rates falling to below breakeven levels.
Historically, activity levels for grain exports and non-grain imports are the key drivers in determining freight rates. When these activity levels are low, the barge industry must deal with an oversupply of equipment, inevitably leading to pressure on rates. During 2009, although grain export activity was positively impacted by an unprecedented demand for soybeans, principally destined for China, the market was dominated by weaker corn exports and a significant reduction in the level of coal exports compared with 2008. Imports were seriously impacted by the ongoing economic recession in the United States with reduced demand for construction related materials and other industrial cargos. The combination of these factors contributed to an oversupply of equipment and a market in which freight rates struggled to maintain reasonable values for much of the year. Barge operators responded to these difficult market conditions by idling equipment in an effort to support the rate structure.
Weather issues also plagued the industry during 2009. An unusually wet spring caused navigation problems that hindered barge operations and delayed the planting of crops. Then, in September, the rains returned as farmers were preparing to harvest. Despite the late rains and thousands of lost acres, the latest production estimates for the 2009/2010 season according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, point to a record corn crop and one of the best soybean crops on record. As a result, harvest activity was compressed during the fourth quarter and the requirement to move a large crop in a shorter period brought previously idled equipment back into service as demand improved and freight rates moved higher.
At the end of 2009, the average age of the Inland River Services dry cargo barge fleet was six years old, which the Company believes is among the youngest fleets operating on the U.S. Inland River Waterways system. Inland River Services believes that approximately 30% of the dry cargo barge fleet operating on the U.S. Inland River Waterways is over 20 years old. Inland River Services expects the relatively young age of its dry cargo barge fleet to enhance its availability and reliability, reduce downtime for repairs and limit replacement capital expenditures required to maintain its fleet size and revenue generating capacity.
The following table presents, for the years indicated, the percentage of revenues Inland River Services earned from its various operations.
The following table presents, for the years indicated, Inland River Services interest in the tons hauled, percentage of tons moved and percentage of operating revenues derived from the movement of cargo and earned from its participation in dry cargo barge pools.
Dry cargo barge expenses are typically differentiated between those directly related to voyages including towing, switching, fleeting and cleaning costs and non-voyage related expenses including repair costs, insurance and depreciation. For barges chartered-out, expense is limited to depreciation.
Results of Operations
Operating Revenues2009 compared with 2008. Operating revenues were $11.1 million higher in 2009 compared with 2008. Operating revenues were higher in the liquid unit tow operation, primarily due to additional equipment added throughout 2008 and 2009, and higher for terminal operations due to a full year of activity at the Sauget, Illinois terminal, which opened in May 2008. Operating revenues for the pooled hopper barge fleet were lower in 2009, primarily due to reductions in grain exports, reduced demand for imported construction related materials and decreased movements of other industrial cargos due to the economic recession in the United States.
Operating Income2009 compared with 2008. Operating income in 2009 included $4.7 million in gains on asset dispositions compared with gains of $10.4 million in 2008. Excluding the impact of these gains, operating income increased by $0.4 million. Operating income in the liquid unit tow operation and the Sauget terminal operations were higher in line with the improvements in operating revenues noted above. For the pooled hopper barge fleet, operating income was lower due to the reductions in operating revenues noted above combined with higher operating expenses, primarily towing, fleeting and switching costs.
Operating Revenues2008 compared with 2007. Operating revenues increased in 2008, primarily due to the impact of new equipment placed into service in the liquid unit tow operation. Operating revenues were also favorably impacted by increased activity on the lower Mississippi River and higher rates. In addition, operating revenues were higher following the return of 68 dry cargo barges to the pooled operating fleet that were previously on a long term charter to a third party. The commencement of terminal operations in Sauget, Illinois also contributed to revenue growth.
Operating Income2008 compared with 2007. Operating income in 2008 included $10.4 million in gains on asset dispositions compared with gains of $30.6 million in 2007. Excluding the impact of these gains, operating income decreased by $3.5 million. The improvements in operating revenues noted above were offset by higher operating expenses, primarily due to higher fuel, towing, fleeting and switching costs and higher repair and maintenance costs. In addition, wage and benefit costs were higher as a result of additional activity in the liquid unit tow operation.
Equity in Earnings of 50% or Less Owned Companies. Equity in earnings in 2009 consist primarily of results from Inland River Services joint venture that owns a fleet of inland river transportation assets and enters into strategic positions in marketable securities and commodity futures. Equity in earnings include losses from trading activities and the recognition of an impairment charge on prime brokerage exposure in 2008 and include gains on marketable securities and commodity futures in 2007. As of December 31, 2009 and 2008, this joint venture had no marketable security or commodity future positions.
A significant portion of Aviation Services operations involves transportation services provided to offshore oil and gas customers and leasing aircraft to third parties. As with the Companys Offshore Marine Services segment, the offshore oil and gas market is highly cyclical with demand linked to the price of oil and gas which tend to fluctuate depending on many factors, including global economic activity and levels of inventory. Alaska and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico represent Aviation Services major oil and gas markets. Demand for leased aircraft is influenced by the overall demand for aircraft and the availability of financing to potential customers. The recent difficulties in the credit market have increased demand for Aviation Services leased assets.
Aviation Services current revenue stream from the support of oil and gas activities is balanced between the exploration and production activities of its customers. Exploration and development activities generally require medium size and heavy aircraft, which typically earn higher margins. Production related activities are less sensitive to variations in commodity prices and accordingly provide a more stable demand for services. Aviation Services has concentrated its production support in deepwater areas and with pipeline companies. It performs very little shallow water production support.
In recent years, Aviation Services oil company customers have been seeking modern aircraft that offer enhanced safety features and greater performance. Some customers have also been moving from small single engine aircraft to small twin engine aircraft due to the additional safety afforded from two engines when flying extended range missions in deepwater areas.
Aviation Services, through one of its joint ventures, offer training services to third parties using a mix of classrooms, flight training devices and aircraft. The demand for these services has increased in line with customers efforts to improve safety.
Maintenance and repair expenses, depreciation, employee compensation, insurance costs and fuel expenses represent a significant portion of Aviation Services overall operating costs. All maintenance and repair costs, including aircraft refurbishments and engine and major component overhauls, are expensed as incurred. Should a disproportionate number of refurbishments or overhauls be undertaken in a particular fiscal year or calendar quarter, comparative operating expenses may vary considerably.
Certain third party vendors maintain the engines and some components on some of Aviation Services helicopters under programs that require it to pay ratably for the service based on actual flight hours flown. The costs are normally billed on a monthly basis and expensed as incurred. In the event that Aviation Services places an aircraft in a program after a maintenance period has begun it may be necessary to pay an initial buy-in charge based on hours flown to date with such charge being amortized over the contract period. If a helicopter is sold before the scheduled maintenance work is carried out, Aviation Services may be able to recover part of the expenditure incurred up to that point. The impact of entry into and exit from these programs can have a significant impact on Aviation Services repair and maintenance costs.
In measuring and evaluating Aviation Services performance, management considers flight hours flown. Hours flown were 65,755, 74,203 and 74,766 for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively, and include hours flown for oil and gas support services, air medical services, flightseeing activities and certain leasing activities. These hours are not necessarily indicative of managements expectations for future flight hours for the Aviation Services fleet.
Results of Operations
Operating Revenues2009 compared with 2008. Operating revenues decreased by $13.0 million in 2009 compared with 2008. Operating revenues were $13.3 million lower in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico primarily due to a slowdown in offshore oil and gas activity and a reduction in hurricane related activity compared with 2008. Operating revenues in Alaska decreased by $5.2 million, primarily due to lower fuel prices charged by the FBO, a reduction in activity at the FBO and fewer aircraft assigned to flightseeing operations, partially offset by additional contract revenues generated from oil and gas support activities. Operating revenues from air medical services decreased by $3.0 million, primarily due to contract terminations. Operating revenues from leasing activities increased by $8.5 million: as of December 31, 2009, excluding joint ventures, 35 aircraft were dedicated to the leasing market, primarily in international regions, compared with 24 as of December 31, 2008.
Operating Income2009 compared with 2008. Operating income in 2009 included nominal gains on asset dispositions compared with gains of $4.9 million in 2008. Excluding the impact of these gains, operating income increased by $18.4 million primarily due to an $8.1 million improvement in operating income from flight operations. The decreases in operating revenues noted above were offset by reductions in operating expenses, including a reduction in fuel cost on non-rebillable flight hours and lower wages as a result of a reduction in workforce. Operating income from leasing activities was $5.9 million higher in 2009. In addition, operating income was $4.4 million higher due to the receipt of insurance proceeds related to hurricane damage incurred in 2008.
Operating Revenues2008 compared with 2007. Operating revenues increased in 2008 due to several factors. Operating revenues from international leasing activities increased by $12.7 million as more aircraft were dedicated to the international leasing market. As of December 31, 2008, excluding joint ventures, 24 helicopters were operating in the international leasing market compared with 16 as of December 31, 2007. In the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, although flight hours decreased, operating revenues improved by $8.9 million primarily due to the replacement of older equipment with newer helicopters that earned generally higher contract rates and higher utilization of the heavy helicopter fleet. Operating revenues in Alaska increased by $7.8 million, primarily due to a higher volume of fuel sales and higher fuel prices at the FBO and an additional oil and gas support contract. Operating revenues from air medical services improved by $4.2 million due to additional contracts with hospitals.
Operating Income2008 compared with 2007. Operating income in 2008 included $4.9 million of gains on asset dispositions compared with gains of $8.0 million in 2007. Excluding the impact of these gains, operating income from flight operations decreased by $0.8 million. The improvements in operating revenues noted above were offset by higher operating expenses, primarily for fuel, repairs and maintenance, expenses related to hurricane disruptions in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and higher depreciation charges as a result of net aircraft additions.
Derivative Gains (Losses), net. Aviation Services has foreign currency forward contracts designated as a fair value hedges for the purchase of capital equipment. The reported gains and losses represent the ineffective portion of these hedges.
Environmental Services charges fees for its consulting and industrial and remediation services on both a time and material basis and on a fixed fee bid basis. In both cases the total fees charged are dependent upon the scope of work to be accomplished and the labor and equipment required to carry it out. The margins on time and material services are more predictable and for the most part are larger than for fixed fee work. The margins on equipment intensive jobs are normally higher than labor-intensive jobs.
The principal components of Environmental Services operating expenses are salaries and related benefits for operating personnel, payments to subcontractors, equipment maintenance and depreciation. These expenses are primarily a function of regulatory requirements and the level of retainer, spill, consulting and other environmental business activities.
During the year ended December 31, 2009, Environmental Services continued to build on its environmental and consulting base through acquisitions. On December 1, 2009, the Company acquired PIER Systems Inc., a provider of crisis communication consulting services and software in the United States and abroad.
Operating results and cash flows can be very dependent on the number of emergency responses in a given fiscal period, the magnitude of each emergency and the profit margin earned. Consequently, emergency response revenues and related income can vary materially between comparable periods. The revenues from any one period are not indicative of a trend or anticipated results in future periods.
Costs of emergency response activities can include payments to sub-contractors for labor, equipment and materials and/or the direct charge of labor, equipment and materials provided by Environmental Services. Profit margins vary based on the use of the Companys personnel and equipment resources versus the use of third-party personnel and equipment.
Results of Operations
Operating Revenues2009 compared with 2008. Operating revenues decreased by $22.3 million in 2009 compared with 2008 primarily due to lower project management, emergency response and professional services revenues, partially offset by higher retainer services revenues. The decrease in project management services revenues was primarily due to higher activity levels in 2008 for pipeline repair projects in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, and industrial services projects, primarily on the U.S. West coast. The decrease in emergency response revenues was primarily due to higher debris monitoring activity in 2008 relating to Hurricane Gustav. Operating revenues from consulting services were lower in 2009 primarily due to a decrease in platform recovery, planning and public assistance recovery services. The increase in retainer services revenues was primarily due to more vessel activity and higher fees from shipowners. Emergency response revenues accounted for 28% and 26% of Environmental Services operating revenues in 2009 and 2008, respectively.
Operating Income2009 compared with 2008. Operating income decreased by $7.0 million in 2009 compared with 2008. Operating expenses decreased in line with lower activity levels noted above. Administrative and general expenses decreased primarily due to lower compensation costs.
Operating Revenues2008 compared with 2007. Operating revenues increased by $11.2 million in 2008 compared with 2007 primarily due to an increase in retainer and project management revenues partially offset by a decrease in emergency response revenues. The increase in retainer revenues was primarily due to higher revenues from facility and ship owners through the expansion of Environmental Services customer base and greater vessel activity. The increase in project management revenues was primarily due to the impact of a full year of activity for acquisitions completed in late 2007. The decrease in emergency response revenues was primarily due to significant response events occurring in 2007. Emergency response activities accounted for 26% and 30% of Environmental Services operating revenues in 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Operating Income2008 compared with 2007. Operating income decreased by $1.3 million in 2008 compared with 2007. Operating expenses increased consistent with higher activity levels. Administrative and general expenses increased primarily due to increased overhead costs associated with acquisitions completed in late 2007. Depreciation and amortization expenses increased primarily due to higher amortization expense for intangible assets related to the 2007 acquisitions.
Commodity Trading and Logistics
The profitability of Commodity Trading and Logistics is affected by the availability and market prices of agricultural and energy commodities and the availability and costs of transportation and logistics services, including truck, barge, rail and ocean freight.
Commodity Trading and Logistics expects that population growth, rising standards of living and rising global demand for renewable fuels will continue to increase global demand for agricultural and energy commodities. However, from time to time, imbalances may exist between capacity and demand for rice, sugar and energy-related products in certain markets, which impacts whether, when and where to purchase, store, transport or sell these commodities and whether to change the location of Commodity Trading and Logistics inventories.
Results of Operations
Segment Profit (Loss)2009 compared with 2008. Operating results declined in 2009 compared with 2008 primarily due to the decline in gross margin on rice sales, partially offset by improved results from ethanol sales and derivative activities. General and administrative expenses were higher in 2009 primarily due to higher provisions for doubtful accounts.
Segment Profit (Loss)2008 compared with 2007. Operating results improved in 2008 compared with 2007 due to the commenc