2018 was a very busy and particularly successful year for AET, despite very difficult market conditions. As an organisation, we passed some major milestones, achieved several industry-first’s, cemented our positive reputation, and made significant strides forward in further strengthening our reputation as in industry-leading tanker owner and operator. We were very pleased to have been crowned ‘Tanker Operator of the Year 2018’ in a competitive Lloyd’s List Global Awards. Our greatest asset is our people, passionate to make a positive difference and AET leadership being awarded the ‘Industry Leader Award’ at the 2018 Tanker Shipping & Trade Awards signifies the industry’s acknowledgement of this.
Our clear financial prudence, discipline in spending, maintenance of a safe cost structure and consistency in repaying our shareholders is bearing fruit, with improved cashflow and a solid balance sheet. For our customers and partners, this provides important assurances that we will continue to provide the highest quality support. Of course, we know that none of this should be taken for granted. The operating market remains tough and there are certainly choppy waters on the horizon which we strategically prepare to navigate. The benefit is that we are very well equipped to take on these challenges and support our customers worldwide.
Knowing that our people are the heart of our business, and that our customers value their trusted relationships with our team members across our organisation, we have continued to identify future leadership potential and diversify our teams. Succession planning is key to our future and making sure that we nurture talent within our team is central to how we operate. Ultimately, our pursuit of sustainability across every aspect of our business is critical to our future growth and development as a tanker owner and operator, but also ensures that we will continue to adapt with our customers as they face significant challenges ahead.
We know that we are but one cog in a highly complex system, and we must work with our customers and partners in a spirit of cooperation and shared responsibility as we move to address the world’s changing energy needs. Our ability to provide flexible energy shipping solutions becomes more important by the day, as we see how quickly market forces can and do change. This is why, as an organisation, at AET we are operationally very focused and well positioned to pursue consistent, sustainable growth.
Looking ahead, 2019 marks a significant chapter for AET, as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary. We will welcome several new vessels, and plan to continue our wider fleet rejuvenation programme which is enabling us to maintain a young, flexible and environmentally-efficient fleet. We will continue to enhance our business in line with our Sustainability Strategy, and we hope to carry the positive momentum gained throughout 2018 forward by pursuing new and exciting opportunities worldwide.