Fuel prices are on the increase again, which is liable to have a considerable impact on the freight industry.
Fuel is now at its highest cost since 2014, and the main reasons for this are the war in Syria, Iranian tensions and biofuel for renewable energy increases.
As a result, pump prices and bunkering have increased and fuel surcharges are now coming into effect. Shipping lines are raising freight costs as the rising oil price lands them with spiralling fuel bills. This is likely to result in the the cost of imported goods rising.
Maersk, the world’s largest shipping business, has joined rival Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) in slapping a surcharge on freight costs to offset its own rising costs. MSC has also introduced a similar measure, telling customers the situation was an “emergency and no longer sustainable”. Maersk has also stated it would stop working with Iran as a consequence of the US introducing sanctions on the country, ending the its nascent business there.
Explaining the prices rises, MSC added: “Fuel prices are up more than 30pc this year, and almost 70pc since last June. [Ship fuel] prices in Europe exceeded $442 per metric ton last week. Crude oil is hovering around $80 a barrel — the highest since 2014.”
Warning its customers of higher charges, Maersk said the increase in ship fuel prices was “significantly higher than expected”, hitting $440 per ton.
Almost 90pc of the world’s good trade travels by sea, and the higher fuel costs are ultimately likely to be passed on to consumers, with other shipping lines following suit.
In order to address the trend in increasing fuel costs over the last decade, most shipping companies began restructuring their operations to create fuel efficiencies:
- Consolidated services through multi-carrier alliances.
- Consolidated routes to serve more locations with fewer ships.
- Improved monitoring of hull and propeller conditions to reduce resistance and improve efficiency.
These actions have helped carriers reduce fuel consumption, and consequently, their fuel costs. However the challenge of rising fuel prices in 2018 is even greater than ever and the outlook is challenging for shipping companies and freight forwarders alike.
To add to the pressure, analysts predict that there is the possibility that shipping fuel costs could rise by as much as a quarter in 2020 when new rules limiting sulphur kick in. Today Emission Control Areas restrict the Sulphur Limit for fuel oil used by ships but the Emission Control areas are restricted to coastal areas in Europe and the US and Canada. Under the new global cap the reduced Sulphur Limit is imposed in all global waters. The predicted cost increase will come as the change to ultra low sulphur fuel oil comes at a much higher cost based on todays market.
Beyond rising costs, higher bunker prices are problematic for container lines because of the delay between when fuel prices rise and when the container lines are able to pass those increases off to customers. This means container lines must spend billions of dollars on more expensive fuel without necessarily having the funding needed to offset the increase, according to maritime analyst SeaIntel.
Source: Telegraph / pfe-express.com / JOC.com