Maersk, the world’s largest containerline, is set to more than double the amount of heavy fuel oil (HFO) its fleet consumes by the end of the year.
During an investor call at yesterday’s 2019 results briefing, Maersk, previously in the anti-scrubber camp, revealed it is now signed up to a large number of exhaust gas cleaning systems.
Maersk’s current fuel consumption is split with 10% for 0.1% sulphur fuel covering ECA zones, 80% for very low sulphur fuel oil and 10% HFO. The plan, revealed yesterday, is to increase HFO usage to 25% by the end of 2020.
Maersk uses approximately 12m tons of bunker fuel annually so by the end of the year it could be using 3m tons of HFO, depending on scrubber fitting delays at Chinese yards brought about by the coronavirus.
The price differential between HFO and VLSFO has now ducked below $200 per tonne.
Maersk has gradually changed its stance on scrubbers. Initially against them, as the global sulphur cap approached it decided to buy around 30 scrubber kits to trial the technology. It has since committed far more to the devices, as have many of its peers, especially for larger boxships. 2M partner MSC is the liner to have invested most in scrubber kits, buying around 250 units so far.
More than 10% of the world’s containership capacity was fitted with scrubbers by the start of the global sulphur cap on January 1, with analysts at Alphaliner predicting the number could grow to some 1,000 ships – equating to 10m teu – by the end of 2022.
Also yesterday, Maersk CEO Soren Skou discussed how the coronavirus has been affecting his business with the Danish carrier cancelling more than 50 sailings since the Chinese New Year.
Skou warned that the world’s biggest ocean carrier is experiencing significant disruption at Chinese seaports due to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are experiencing huge pressure at [Chinese] terminals because there aren’t enough workers at the ports to move the containers around, not enough truck drivers to move the goods, and no one to receive them at the factories or warehouses,” Skou said.
Skou said Maersk estimates factories in China are operating at 50% to 60% of capacity, predicting production would ramp up to 90% by the first week of March.