Strong indications emerged at the weekend that Nigerians may pay more for fuel and other goods imported into the country after shipping companies including Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company, announced a rate hike in prices of bunker fuel which is a fallout of higher oil prices.
The fuel used to power ships is technically known as bunker fuels and Nigeria, which depends on importation for machinery, fuel and other items, might need to pay for the increased prices.
The implication is that consumers would either have to pay for the additional cost if the shipping companies fail to absorb the increased costs. there are however some anxiety that the increased rates may affect the landing cost of petrol and other petroleum products.
Crude oil prices have returned to 2014 highs on rising tensions between the US and Iran after the former backed out of a nuclear deal.
Maersk is the world’s largest container ship and supply vessel operator and Mediterranean Shipping Company is ranked the second largest. Maersk said the emergency bunker surcharge will take effect from June 1.
“The increase (in bunker fuel prices) is more than 20 per cent compared with the beginning of 2018 and this unexpected development means that it is no longer possible for us to recover bunker costs through the standard bunker adjustment factors,” Maersk said in a note to customers.
“This unexpected development means that it is no longer possible for us to recover bunker costs through the standard bunker adjustment factors.”
In a notice on its website, MSC said the “situation is no longer sustainable without emergency action.” It said the worldwide temporary emergency bunker surcharge will be with immediate effect.
The impact may be worse in Nigeria because of the recent directive by Hadiza Bala-Usman, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Director, that shipping companies must use their holding bays for empty containers.
According to Usman, this would eliminate gridlock caused by trucks waiting on port access roads to return empty containers to the ships.
Kikelomo Abiola Cudjoe, Maersk’s Marine Operations Manager in Nigeria, had said the use of holding bays would increase the cost of operations, which would eventually affect customers.