Maersk's new fuel surcharge plan is facing pushback from shippers and forwarders for lack of transparency.
Maersk is introducing a new bunker surcharge to help with skyrocketing fuel bills, due to a mandate to cut sulphur emissions by 2020, and an additional agreement to halve carbon emissions by 2050.
“The cost of compliance with the new regulation will be significant, so the cost of shipping will increase,” Maersk announced in September. “In order to allow customers to predict, plan and track how changes in fuel price will impact total shipping freight, Maersk Line will introduce a simple and predictive bunker adjustment factor (BAF).”
The surcharge will be applied from 1st January 2019, replacing the current standard bunker factor (SBF) and taking into account average fuel consumption and whether the shipment is front or head haul (using the shipping lanes with the highest volumes) or back haul (lower volumes).
However, some shippers and forwarders have complained that it’s not clear enough how the BAF is calculated, and that lower charges for back haul mean that those paying for front haul end up paying, on the whole, more than is fair to compensate for back haul “empties”.
“Asking customers to contribute to new environmental costs is to be expected,” said James Hookham, secretary general of the Global Shippers’ Forum, “but this charge lacks transparency; no data is available to let customers work out how the charge has been calculated.
“GSF will be takin this piece of financial engineering apart piece by piece, as we suspect this has more to do with rate restoration than environmental conservation.”
BIFA director general Robert Keen similarly voiced his displeasure.
“Rises of this magnitude are unjustified, and could be construed as blatant profiteering by shipping lines determined to exploit the situation,” he said.