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Shipping giant Maersk sees best fuel efficiency in six years

London — Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, the largest consumer of marine fuel in the world, has reduced its bunker consumption per container carried to the lowest level in at least six years.

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In its annual report released Thursday the company reported bunker consumption of 894kg per forty-foot container it shipped in 2018, down from 950 kg/FFE the previous year and the lowest level since it began reporting the figure in 2013. Its total bunker consumption rose by 14.4% to 11.9 million mt/year, representing about 4% of global marine fuel demand.

Maersk paid an average of $424/mt for its fuel in 2018, up from $321/mt the previous year. By the end of the year the company's owned fleet numbered 355 vessels, and it has another 355 under charter.

Maersk and other giants of the container industry have been under increased pressure to reduce bunker costs in recent years in the face of overcapacity and upcoming changes to emissions regulation. When the International Maritime Organization's lower 0.5% sulfur limit for shipping comes into effect at the start of next year, Maersk expects to face $2 billion/year of extra fuel costs as most of its fleet switches to using cleaner, more expensive fuels.

The company has also set itself the target of reducing its net carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2050 -- a more ambitious goal than the 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 2008's levels envisaged in the IMO's initial strategy. Maersk plans to make new carbon-neutral vessels "commercially ready" by 2030, but has not yet revealed what technology it intends to use.

As well as being the world's largest consumer of bunkers, the company is also increasingly a fuel supplier through its oil trading unit. Maersk Oil Trading's revenue jumped by 88% last year to $769 million "due to a higher level of oil/bunker trading with third parties," the company said.

-- Jack Jordan,

-- Edited by Jonathan Dart,

Why BAF is failing the container industry, the next step in bunker costs recovery

With the looming shadow of IMO 2020 on the horizon, there is a growing confusion and discord in the container market when it comes to recovery of bunker costs in freight contracts. The BAF system is failing and the industry is looking out for new solutions.