Why the low sulphur fuel surcharges could be a positive move for the box industry
Carriers have announced new fuel surcharge arrangements to recover costs from the introduction of low sulphur marine fuel from 1 January 2020 – a move that has upset shipper associations.
But I think these low sulphur bunker surcharges could be a positive move for the industry. Maersk was the first to announce such a surcharge, followed by CMA-CGM, MSC, Hapag-Lloyd and OOCL.
Various surcharges launched by carriers over the years have led to complaints about lack of transparency and carriers have had varied success in collecting them.
Indeed, in an interview I had, Hapag-Lloyd senior director of corporate development Pyers Tucker pointed out the industry had a poor track record in passing on rising fuel costs to customers. He said one reason is over the years there have been non-transparent bunker charges introduced.
But now is a chance to change this for the better, as Hapag-Lloyd and other carriers demonstrate.
Mr Tucker said the carrier would start from a blank sheet of paper with its surcharge, it would be transparent and replace all existing fuel-related charges.
If the whole industry works towards transparency, then it can only be a good thing for both shippers and carriers. Shippers presented with a transparent and fair way of collecting the increased cost have just one fuel-related surcharge to deal with. Carriers will have a much stronger chance of successfully be able to cover the increased fuel costs.