Owners see fuel bills slashed in 2015

Shipowners made staggering average savings of $145m on bunker fuel in 2015 compared with 2014, a Lloyd’s List poll reveals.

The coming year is set to see those savings matched and perhaps bettered, judging by the trajectory of the oil price and therefore the cost of bunker fuel.

Such big cost savings are allowing owners to improve earnings.

Maersk Tankers, which runs one of the world’s largest product carrier fleets at around 100 vessels, told Lloyd’s List it has bought an estimated 550,000 tonnes of bunker fuel this year.

The company said it has paid an average price of $300 per tonne in 2015. The average price in 2014 was $600 per tonne.

Therefore, it has saved a cool $165m on bunker fuel in 2015.

“It’s been a huge benefit that [the bunker cost] has declined,” said Maersk Tankers’ chief commercial officer Christian Ingerslev, speaking from the company’s Copenhagen headquarters.

Large savings by other owners reveal the impact in hard figures of cheaper oil and therefore cheaper bunker fuel for shipping, amid the noise in the market surrounding oil price movements in 2015.

Stena Bulk, the tanker division of Stena Group and one of the world’s largest tanker companies at around 120 ships, bought around 800,000 tonnes of bunker fuel in 2015. It paid an average of $300 per tonne, compared with $600 per tonne in 2014.

“The low bunker prices have, for sure, had a big impact on the bottom line,” Stena Bulk’s manager of bunkers Lars Malmbratt told Lloyd’s List from the company’s Swedish headquarters.

Its saving on cheaper bunkers came in at around $240m in 2015.

D’Amico Tankers, a leading product tanker owner with a total fleet of around 50 vessels, told Lloyd’s List it bought around 100,000 tonnes of fuel for its spot fleet in 2015 at around $300 per tonne, therefore making an annual saving of around $30m.

Cheaper bunker fuel has had a big impact on d’Amico’s earnings on certain key routes, a management spokesperson explained.

On the benchmark TC2 round trip route carrying gasoline from Rotterdam to New York, and a ballast back to Rotterdam, the drop in bunkers meant d’Amico’s time charter equivalent earnings rose by around $8,000 per day on average, he said.

The cost of transporting goods has decreased, facilitating trade and opening up opportunities for shipowners in demand, explained Maersk Tankers’ Mr Ingerslev.

For more information including 2016 forecasts see Lloyd’s List

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