October 27 - According to a new survey by international accountant and shipping consultant Moore Stephens, vessel operating costs are expected to rise by 2.9 percent in both 2014 and 2015.
The survey, which is based on responses from key players in the international shipping industry, predominantly shipowners and managers in Europe and Asia, revealed that crew wages and repairs and maintenance are the cost categories likely to increase most significantly.
Crew wages are expected to increase by 2.4 percent in 2014 and by 2.6 percent in 2015, with other crew costs thought likely to go up by 1.9 percent and 2.1 percent respectively for the years under review. The cost of repairs and maintenance, meanwhile, is expected to escalate by 2.3 percent in 2014 and by 2.4 percent in 2015.
P&I insurance costs are expected to go up by 2 percent in 2014 and 2.2 percent in 2015, compared to the respective increases of 1.6 and 1.8 percent predicted in respect of the cost of hull and machinery insurance.
Meanwhile, drydocking costs are also expected to rise by 2.1 percent in 2014 and 2.2 percent in 2015, while expenditure on spares is expected to increase by 2.1 percent and by 2.2 percent over the same period.
As was the case in last year's survey, management fees are deemed likely to produce the lowest level of increases in both 2014 and 2015.
The cost of regulatory and legislative compliance was a recurring topic in responses to the survey. One respondent commented on the cost of "the entry into force of new regulations such as the US ballast water treatment rules".
One respondent believed that "recent legislation in Europe will push costs up dramatically, especially in the UK," while another remarked, "sulphur emission control areas (ECAs) will have a serious impact on ships' equipment maintenance costs."
Some respondents were pessimistic about the future: "There is no light at the end of the tunnel," while others were more confident: "Although operating costs are going up, the advent of bigger ships and the projected opening of the enlarged Panama Canal in 2016 should mean that profits will go up too."