What is LSF/LSS?

LSS is the abbreviation of the first letters of the English term Low Sulfur Surcharge, the Low Sulfur Surcharge (LSS), Low Sulfur Bunker Surcharge, or Low Sulfur Fuel Surcharge (LSF), stems from an International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulation initially agreed upon in 2012 to reduce the amount of sulfuric fuel emissions being burned by cargo vessels near ports and populated coastlines.  High sulfur content fuel contributes to a significant amount of sulfur dioxide emissions, known to be hazardous to public health.

Starting January 1, 2015, carriers will require vessels traveling through designated Emission Control Areas (ECA) to use fuel with sulfur content of 0.1% or less, a drastic decrease from the 1.0% concentration fuel used in maritime shipping today.  Emission Control Areas (ECA) that will begin enforcement in 2015 include the Baltic Sea, English Channel, North Sea, and 200 nautical miles off of U.S. and Canadian coasts.

Low Sulfur Surcharge Fees

Now that you know what the LSS is, let’s break down how this charge is going to be levied and how much it’s going to really cost.  Maersk estimated regulations will result in over $200 million in fuel cost increases per carrier.

To keep things interesting, the LSS charge is not a fixed amount; it varies by carrier and routing, ranging from $30 to $110 per 20’container and $60 to $220 for a 40’ container.  LSS charges in the following handy chart:

Routing Low Sulfur Surcharge Range

(Based on FEU, in USD)

Northwest Europe/New York $50-150
Baltic/New York $150-260
Northwest Europe/Savannah $100-200
Baltic/Savannah $150-300
Northwest Europe/East Coast, Canada $80-260
Baltic/East Coast, Canada $180-370
China/Northwest Europe $30-50
China/Baltic $130-150
China/West Coast, US $35-150
China/East Coast, US $50-60