Friday, December 12, 2008

Why are there still bunker surcharges?

I have been meaning to check out the bunker surcharges (B/S), or also called, bunker adjustment factors (BAF), (just so they won't have to admit they are really BS).

I did a post back in September called Illogical Bunker Adjustment Factors (BAF)

Back then crude was still over $100.00 per barrel, although it had come down from it's high of over $140.00.

Today, December 12th, as per Bloomberg News, it is trading around $44.00 per barrel.

So I thought (stupid me) that surely the ocean carriers had withdrawn all their BS by now. Oh, excuse me, BAF. I did a Google search "why are there bunker surcharges". The 3rd one on the list was the site from Tropical Shipping.

It start out really promising:

Bunker Surcharge Calculation Information Announcement - Update

October 3, 2008 -- Over the past few months, the world has seen an unprecedented amount of volatility in the energies market.
However, due to recent market trends that have resulted in lower crude oil prices, Tropical Shipping will now base its bunker surcharge calculation on the eight week running average of the WTI.

The price of crude oil remains highly speculative and our estimated bunker surcharge continues to reflect that volatility. If anything should happen to cause the cost of oil to rise above its current level over a sustained period of time, or conversely, continue to fall over a sustained period of time, Tropical will once again have to assess the current market conditions and sustained market trends to determine if we need to revisit our bunker surcharge calculations at that time.

But - but, but, but

When I do go to their chart, this is what is says:

Effective Nov. 9, 2008, the bunker surcharge is based on the new estimated WTI Cushing Spot* price of $109.00

Effective Dec. 7, 2008, the bunker surcharge is based on the new estimated WTI
Cushing Spot* price of $140.00

*WTI Cushing Spot - this is a settlement point used on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It is based on the price of delivery in Cushing, OK.

So I don't know what's going on. Maybe they laid off the person who was in charge of this project. This is what they said they would do.

The process of implementing a bunker fuel surcharge increase is focused around observing trends in the price per barrel of crude oil. The time periods most often analyzed are: weekly, monthly, eight-week and quarterly averages.
The new bunker surcharge calculation will be based on the eight week running average of the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Cushing Spot price of crude oil taken every Monday as published on ( The spot price is put into a chart that we use to track the price per barrel of crude oil to calculate the eight week running average.
The first Tuesday of every month we will review the eight week running average and publish a benchmark WTI Price per barrel that corresponds to a bunker surcharge amount that is presented in a Bunker Surcharge Chart on and in our tariff. This chart will show the various bunker surcharges by equipment size based on the (WTI) price per barrel, provide an effective date for the new bunker surcharge (30 day notice) and a new estimated date for the next increase or decrease (60 day notice).

I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and say I don't know how to read their chart. I can always hope.

Anyway, maybe I will try to give them a call and find out what's going on.

I hate to start looking at the other carriers. It's all so depressing. They were so anxious to get this additional revenue, but of course no one thought it would go the other way. They should really be giving Bunker Adjustment Factor credits at this point.

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