We are a leading provider of international seaborne crude oil transportation services. Our current fleet consists of 21 wholly owned vessels, consisting of 10 Aframax and 11 Suezmax vessels. The 21 vessels that we currently operate have a total of 2.7 million dwt, all of which is double-hulled. Many of the vessels in our fleet are “sister ships”, which provide us with operational and scheduling flexibility, as well as economies of scale in their operation and maintenance.
The majority of our vessels currently operate in the Atlantic, which includes ports in the Caribbean, South and Central America, the United States, Western Africa, the Mediterranean, Europe and the North Sea. Transportation of crude oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast and other refining centers in the United States requires vessel owners and operators to meet more stringent environmental regulations than in other regions of the world. We have focused our operations in the Atlantic because we believe that these stringent operating and safety standards give us a potential competitive advantage. We have established a niche in the region due to our high quality vessels, all of which are double-hulled, our commitment to safety and our many years of experience in the industry. Although the majority of our vessels operate in the Atlantic, we also currently operate vessels in the Black Sea and in other regions, which we believe enables us both to take advantage of market opportunities and to position our vessels in anticipation of drydockings. Our customers include most of the major international oil companies such as Chevron Corporation, CITGO Petroleum Corp., ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Hess Corporation, Lukoil Oil Company, and Sun International Ltd.
We actively manage the deployment of our vessels between spot market voyage charters, which generally last from several days to several weeks, and time charters, which can last up to several years. We continuously and actively monitor market conditions in an effort to take advantage of changes in charter rates and to maximize our long-term cash flow by changing this chartering deployment profile. We design our fleet deployment to provide greater cash flow stability through the use of time charters for part of our fleet, while maintaining the flexibility to benefit from improvements in market rates by deploying the balance of our vessels in the spot market.
Our net voyage revenues, which are voyage revenues minus voyage expenses, have grown from $12.0 million in 1997 to $216.9 million in 2007. Net voyage revenues decreased by $28.6 million, or 11.7%, to $216.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2007 compared to $245.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2006 primarily due to the smaller size of our fleet. Between October 2005 and May 2006, we sold 17 of our non-double hull vessels and nine of our Oil/Bulk/Ore (OBO) vessels, which we considered to be non-core assets, in four separate transactions. Between March 2006 and February 2008 we took delivery of four newly constructed Suezmax vessels, giving us a current fleet size of 21 vessels (all of which are double-hull). As a result, we believe that our fleet profile has become more attractive to our customers. We have also generated additional capital which we have used to repay indebtedness and pay dividends and which we may use to support potential future growth or other transactions that we believe would create value for our shareholders.
Our strategy is to employ our existing competitive strengths to enhance our position within the industry and maximize long-term cash flow. Our strategic initiatives include:
•Managing Environmentally Safe, Yet Cost Efficient Operations. We aggressively manage our operating and maintenance costs. At the same time, our fleet has an excellent safety and environmental record that we maintain through acquisitions of high-quality vessels and regular maintenance and inspection of our fleet. We maintain operating standards for all of our vessels that emphasize operational safety, quality maintenance, continuous training of our officers and crews and compliance with U.S. and international environmental and safety regulations. Our in-house safety staff oversees many of these services. We believe the age and quality of the vessels in our fleet, coupled with our excellent safety and environmental record, position us favorably within the sector with our customers and for future business opportunities.
•Balancing Vessel Deployment to Maximize Fleet Utilization and Cash Flows. We actively manage the deployment of our fleet between time charters and spot market voyage charters. Our vessel deployment strategy is designed to provide greater cash flow stability through the use of time charters for part of our fleet, while maintaining the flexibility to benefit from improvements in market rates by deploying the balance of our vessels in the spot market. Our goal is to be the first choice of our customers for crude oil transportation services. We constantly monitor the market and seek to anticipate our customers’ crude oil transportation needs and to respond quickly when we recognize attractive chartering opportunities.
•Growing and Managing the Profile of Our Fleet. We have been an industry consolidator focused on opportunistically acquiring high-quality mid-sized vessels or newbuilding contracts for such vessels. We are continuously and actively monitoring the market in an effort to take advantage of expansion and growth opportunities. We also evaluate opportunities to monetize our investment in vessels by selling them when conditions are favorable to generate return on invested capital, to adjust the profile of our fleet to fit customer demands such as preference for double-hull vessels and to generate capital for potential value enhancing investments in the future. Between October 2005 and May 2006, we sold 17 non-double-hull vessels for approximately $432 million and nine OBO vessels for approximately $244 million.
•Maintaining a Prudent Capital Structure. We are committed to maintaining prudent financial policies aimed at preserving financial stability and appropriate leverage and increasing long-term cash flow. As of December 31, 2006 our debt to capitalization ratio was 6.1%. As of December 31, 2007, our debt to capitalization ratio increased to 71.2%, which was attributable to our special dividend of $486.5 million paid in March 2007. As of December 31, 2007 we had the ability to draw down an additional $327.5 million on our revolving credit facility.