Following the announcement on May 30, Hapag Lloyd has issued a revised sheet now not including the 0 and 1 dollar EBS. Instead they have launched a worldwide 55 USD/TEU Operations Cost Recovery (OCR) Surcharge]

Today Hapag-Lloyd also announced the introduction of an emergency bunker surcharge (EBS).

Just looking at the above statement one could be excused for thinking that they are following in the footsteps of Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM’s announcements from last week. However a look at the details reveals something else entirely.

The EBS is part of the CustomerInfo sheet issued by Hapag-Lloyd today for the trades to/from Asia and Oceania. 27 trades are listed as being part of the EBS for trades to/from Asia and Oceania.

For 9 trades the EBS is 0 (zero!) USD, and for 4 it doesn’t apply.

For Asia to North Europe and the Mediterranean the EBS is 1 (one!) USD per TEU. Same for the backhaul.


The EBS then ranges between 51-75 USD/TEU for tradelanes linking South and Central Amrica to East Asia and Oceania, and is then set at 215 USD/TEU from Mediterranen to New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.

They also announce changes in their ordinary BAF. As an example, the quarterly Asia to North Europe BAF increases from 481 to 487 USD/TEU – i.e. an increase of 6 USD/TEU.

For carriers which ship millions of TEU with razor-thin margins, then clearly every dollar counts, and hence should not be scoffed at.


However, it does beg a few questions.

Does a 1 USD/TEU surcharge qualify for the term “emergency”? Why is the ordinary BAF not instead increased by 7 USD/TEU instead of 6 USD/TEU? Ostensibly, the 6 USD/TEU increase stems from the effect of the changing bunker fuel price?

And, even more interestingly, Hapag Lloyd introduced an EBS of 1 USD/TEU on some major trades. For Maersk Line the corresponding charge is 60 USD/TEU and for CMA CGM it is 55 USD/TEU. MSC has not published an official number. Quite a diverse take on the impact of the increasing oilprices – even when Hapag Lloyd’s increase in ordinary BAF is also taken into account.


At the end of the day reality is that the carriers must have their costs covered. Running a loss-making service is not in the long-term interests of the shippers (cue the Hanjin debacle). But it seems evident that years of rate-erosion and quite fierce price-competition have led to a point where carriers appear not to believe in their own market power in terms of raising the actual freight rates, but need to point to a plethora of surcharges to get properly compensated. The EBS is merely an additional symptom of this – and that is likely why the logic behind the EBS seems to be somewhat lacking, because de facto the problem being addressed is not an exceptional increase in fuel price, it is the collapse of the BAF mechanism itself over the past years.

Courtesy:  Lars Jensen

CEO, Partner at SeaIntelligence Consulting