Total operating expenses amounted to $31.3 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to $35.5 million in the first quarter of 2012. The sale of the two VLCCs in the fourth quarter contributed to the reduction, together with other savings in running costs which lowered the daily operating costs per vessel from $8,308 to $7,692, a 7.4% reduction. In addition, there was only one dry-docking in the first quarter of 2013, compared to four in the previous year's first quarter which had higher repair and maintenance costs.
Operating income achieved was $9.7 million compared to $2.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, excluding the fourth quarter impairment loss, and $1.0 million in the first quarter of 2012, close to a ten-fold increase over a period of 12 months.
Interest and finance costs were $9.6 million, 6.5% down from the 2012 first quarter. The significant savings in interest rate swap charges were partly offset by increases in loan margins. Positive valuation movements on bunker and interest rate swaps were smaller than the first quarter of 2012.
Total cash and liquid investments amounted to $139 million at the end of the first quarter 2013, which has been supplemented, in May, by a preferred stock offering described in the Subsequent Events section. Total indebtedness at March 31, 2013 was $78 million lower compared to March 31, 2012 at $1,437 million, even after taking account of new debt of $46 million in relation to the delivery of the first of the two suezmax DP2 shuttle tankers, Rio 2016. A similar amount was received in April of this year relating to the delivery of the second shuttle tanker, Brasil 2014.
The Company's Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.05 per share of common stock outstanding to be paid on September 12, 2013 to shareholders of record as of September 9, 2013. Inclusive of this distribution, TEN will have distributed in total $9.675 per share in dividends to its shareholders since the Company was listed on the NYSE in March of 2002. The listing price was $7.50/share taking into account the 2-1 share split of November 14, 2007.
On May 10, 2013 TEN successfully raised gross proceeds of $50 million from the sale of two million 8.00% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares under its effective shelf registration statement at $25.00 per share. TEN intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes, which may include making vessel acquisitions or other related investments.
On May 18, shuttle tanker Rio 2016 arrived in Brazil and commenced its 15-year charter which is expected to generate approximately $255.0 million in gross revenues. Second shuttle tanker Brasil 2014 is en route to Brazil for delivery to charterers and commencement of similar, in terms of duration and rate, employment.
Strategy & Outlook
With the improvements in product tanker rates continuing and the crude sector demonstrating signs of recovery our fleet this quarter, and primarily assisted by our large and modern product tankers exposure, generated a substantial increase in profits compared to last year's quarter. This improvement was primarily driven by a 6% increase in the average time charter rate per vessel and a significant drop in the fleet's overall expenses. In particular, daily operating expenses, on a per ship basis, decreased by 7.4% from last year's first quarter while the fleet's total voyage expenses were 24.1% lower than in the 2012 first quarter.
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