Less than 18 months before the IMO’s 0.5% sulphur cap regulations come into force for merchant shipping, container lines are worried that the estimated $50bn extra cost of the greener fuel could tip them into bankruptcy.
“We’re all going to go bust,” MOL’s president and chief executive Junichiro Ikeda told the Financial Times.
He expressed his concern that ocean carriers would be unable to recover sufficient amounts from shippers to mitigate the impact of the $300 a tonne extra cost of low-sulphur fuel oil (LSFO).
Mr. Ikeda may have good reasons to be worried: carriers have generally not been very successful in their attempts to pass on extra fuel costs to shippers, illustrated by a cumulative net loss of over $1bn in the first quarter for the industry this year, attributed to a spike in oil prices.
In the previous decade, the establishment of SECA (Sulphur Emission Control Areas) in the North and Baltic Seas and North American and Canadian coastlines, which required switching tanks to LSFO when entering, was also not compensated.
Ocean carriers initially announced surcharges to cover the cost of more expensive fuel consumed on some tradelanes, but these were ultimately absorbed into their freight rates.