Source: Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd.
Operating Costs of Panamax and Post-panamax Containerships (in USD)
Maritime shipping is highly sensitive (elastic) to bunker fuel costs as
they represent between 45 and 50% of operating costs with limited
opportunities to mitigate outside slow steaming. Still, from a
comparative perspective maritime shipping has less fuel price
sensitivity than trucking and rail, implying that higher energy
prices are likely to trigger the consideration of routing options
that have a port call the closest possible to the destination of the
A standard Panamax containership has operational costs of about $9
million per year. The most significant expenses are related to fuel
(46%) and port charges (21%), which are variable costs. This is transcribed
in annual operating costs of about $2,314 per TEU. Not shown here are
the significant amortization costs related to the ship purchase (principal
and interest). The incentive to use larger containerships is quite clear
from the perspective of maritime shippers, which led to a new generation of 10,000
TEUs containerships being introduced in 2007. In this
case, fuel and port charges account respectively for 50% and 21%
of their annual operating costs, while manning costs remains constant.
However, annual operating costs per TEU drop by more than one half to
$1,449. The principle of economies of scale is thus a strong factor
in containerized maritime shipping.