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Plunging oil prices driving down fuel costs

Fuel costs could be cut by as much as USD 1 million a year if current price levels stay put for ships that burn 24 tonnes of fuel per day while steaming, the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) said.

This would be applicable assuming a difference from the average of the first half of 2014 at USD 578 for 380 cSt, High
Sulphur Fuel Oil (HSFO) in Rotterdam, to a new level of USD 412, and a sailing time of 70%, BIMCO went on to say.

On an industry-wide scale, the drop has reduced the entire international shipping industry’s daily bunker costs by USD 117 million per day, assuming an annual market for bunker fuels of 257 million tons bought at spot price and a drop in prices by USD 166 per mt on HSFO. Actually, it may be even slightly higher, as prices for Marine Gas Oil (MGO) have slid USD 215 per mt, but no adjustment made for that, the association explained.

Chief Shipping Analyst at BIMCO, Peter Sand, said: “The drop in oil prices mirrors the disappointing development in global GDP growth figures, where we have seen one downward revision followed by another this year. Despite the lower prices, bunkers remain the single most significant cost item for owners and operators. For a Handymax in current markets using abt. 24 tonnes a day, bunker costs amount to USD 10,000, close to twice the amount spent on OPEX (abt. USD 5,500 per day). Slow steaming is expected to remain an integrated part of shipping going forward in spite of the falling prices, as bunker costs are still significant and so is overcapacity in the freight market. The fall in oil prices and a strong start to the Winter season has spurred demand for tankers, lifting earnings within all tanker segments considerably.”

The unrest in the financial markets starting in Q3 and continuing into Q4 has sent the global oil prices down, due to more than adequate supply and less than adequate demand. The demand side is the real problem for ongoing world economic recovery and keeps “postponing” the arrival of a sustainable global and regional economic growth level.

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