Now: Additional BAF increases

Lars Jensen, expert container shipping industry
Maersk appears to be the first container carrier to announce additional BAF increases triggered by the sharp increases in costs for low Sulphur fuel. They issued a customer advisory to this effect Tuesday. Their standard BAF is adjusted quarterly, but the sharp increases seen in the past month triggers an exceptional monthly revision. According to Maersk this will lead to increases of 50-200 USD/FFE in BAF from March.

It should be expected that other carriers follow suit in this endeavor, simply because from a cost perspective the spike to 700 USD/ton fuel cannot be absorbed without significant losses.

Or, another way to look at it, if the carriers cannot pass on this spike in cost to the shippers they will come out of Q1 with severely impaired financial results.

Consider a very high-level round ballpark number. The container carriers combined use around 4.5 million tons of fuel per month. The expectation was for a 200 USD/ton premium for low-Sulphur fuel. Instead this has spiked to a 300 USD/ton premium. The additional price premium beyond expectation thus equates to an added fuel cost for the carriers of 450 Million USD for one month.

Again in very round numbers, 14 million TEU is shipped per month. The added fuel cost therefore equals 32 USD/TEU or 64 USD/FFE as a global average. Clearly longer routes would mean a higher BAF and shorter routes a lower BAF.
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