IMO 2020: Fuel costs vary heavily

a. hartrodt adjusts price lists up to twice a month.

Since January 1, 2020, according to the regulation of the International Maritime Organization IMO, seagoing vessels can only use fuel oil with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5 percent. Previously 3.5 percent was allowed. Marco Zachow, General Manager Sea Freight Export at a. hartrodt in Hamburg, draws up an interim balance: According to him, the carriers have managed the changeover from heavy fuel oil to the more expensive Very Low Sulphur Fuel (VLSF) "smoothly". As Zachow said, a. hartrodt's customers are "partly very well informed" and show understanding for the fact that freight forwarders have to pass on additional costs one to one.

Volatile prices for low sulphur fuel

"The carriers have included their additional costs in the rates or apply a bunker surcharge," explains Zachow. Together with his colleagues he keeps a constant eye on the "very volatile prices" for VLSF. "Up to the end of 2019, the prices continued to rise", he reports. Both the all-in rates and separate bunker surcharges of the carriers are meticulously reviewed by a. hartrodt: "We take a close look at the different calculation schemes of the carriers. Thereupon the own price list is adjusted once or twice a month. "This enables us to better map fluctuations for customers," says Zachow. He last had to calculate sea freight as intensively as he does today shortly after the turn of the millennium. That was during his dual training at a. hartrodt.

Contribution to protect the environment

Environmental certificates are becoming increasingly important in trade and industry, and supply chains must be sustainable. "Environmental awareness is increasing, customers are paying attention to green shipping," observes Zachow. But when marine diesel is burned, harmful particles get into the air, and lower sulphur oxide emissions due to IMO 2020 reduce pollution. "It's about people and nature," emphasizes Zachow. According to IMO, the new regulations will reduce sulphur oxide emissions from ships by about 8.5 million tons per year.

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