Wednesday 21st Nov, 2018

Swire slows ships in expensive fuel market

Photo: David Sexton
Photo: David Sexton

SLOW steaming is becoming an important tactic in overcoming high fuel costs, Swire Shipping Australia commercial manager Rod Begley says.

Mr Begley spoke at the Tasmanian Freight and Logistics Forum in Launceston and outlined areas of interest for local shippers and the industry more broadly.

He said shipping was under “immense pressure from our fuel costs” albeit prices jumped around, with buyers paying more than $600 for a tonne of fuel five years ago before being “blessed” with around $300 a tonne last year.

“In this last one year, it has moved up… to on average about $400 to $450 a tonne.”

Mr Begley noted ships could burn anywhere between 50 and 350 tonnes of fuel per day, depending upon the size, necessitating the move to slow steaming.

“We at Swire, even though we operate very small ships, we are slowing our ships down to conserve fuel. There is no doubt we have a major industry concern with the price of fuel,” he said.

“Going back even before five years ago I think it was up to $800 at one stage. God help us if that happens again.”

Swire operates a direct Hobart call and Mr Begley indicated growth in this market had been heartening since its inception more than two years ago.

“We were coming down (to Hobart) to load five containers two years ago and that was a tough period. Questions were asked by management… about what we were doing,” he said.

“But they stood firm and they stood strong and five weeks ago we loaded 300 containers. That is really thanks to the industry collectively.

“Yes we have a lot of work to do and yes we have to convince the trade and the market that we are here to stay… we want to develop more and we want to grow more.”

The TFL Forum was held at the Australian Maritime College and was organised by the Freight and Trade Alliance, Australian Peak Shippers and the  Tasmanian Logistics Committee.

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