Shipping companies lower bunker surcharges as ship fuel prices correct

According to Alphaliner’s latest report, published on June 14, main line operators are cutting their bunker surcharges given the sharp drop in marine fuel prices over the past six months.

Although bunkering costs have been highlighted as a cost factor by some shipping companies in their first quarter 2023 results, marine fuel prices have been falling steadily since mid-2022 and are expected to fall further.

In Rotterdam, sulphurous heating oil prices were $454 a tonne in early June, compared to $642 a tonne a year ago. Very low-sulphur fuel oil prices in the Dutch port averaged $545 per tonne, down from $963 per tonne in June 2022.

Concerns about oil demand and calls to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 have pushed oil prices lower.

German airline Hapag-Lloyd touted higher bunker costs in the first quarter of 2023, which are up 7.5% year-on-year for the shipping company, but that’s expected to change as the year progresses.

In its 2023 earnings forecast, Hapag-Lloyd forecasts a “significant drop” in fuel prices in 2023 after paying an average of $753 per tonne in 2022. Maersk also reported a 2.3% year-over-year increase in average bunker costs in the first quarter of 2023 to $625 per tonne, partially offset by an 11% decrease in consumption.

However, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have lowered their bunker surcharges for April to June and again for July to September. Maersk has set its Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF) on the Far East-US East Coast route at $842 per TEU effective July 1, up from $889 in the current period.

Hapag-Lloyd has reduced its marine fuel recovery fee for the third quarter of 2023 to US$397 per TEU from the current fee of US$441 per TEU.

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