Owners losing money in unmonitored port management costs

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Port agencies have been exposed as having the “upper hand” when it comes to port management fees, costing shipping companies unnecessary and disproportionate expense due to inconsistent information in ports, writes Amy Kilpin in Oslo.

Addressing members of the international maritime press on the opening press day of Nor-Shipping 2009 at Oslo’s Shippingklubben, DA-Desk has unveiled itself as a new industry solution to independent port cost management and has been working extensively with major global shipping lines for eight years, completely under wraps and unknown to the rest of the industry.

Jens Lorens Poulsen, Director, revealed that there is $30bn of port costs “floating around” the industry that is “not under control” due to the workings of ship agents who are making dishonest profits out of their service operations, allegedly making extra money out of shipping principals.

With port fees accounting for 28% of the world fleet costs, there are huge unaccounted for cash outlays and agents are finding ways to make money against their fiduciary duty in undisclosed profits – a practice which is going completely unmonitored by the industry.

Solely focusing on combating this grave global issue, DA-Desk has claimed that through its auditing process in checking agency fees against tariffs and agreements, it has the capacity to save an owner anything from $200 to $3,000 per port call. With a large shipping company averaging 2,000 port calls, this could result in significant cost savings.

“We could publish some awful scandalous information on these agents – they would be very scared of us going public, but we want to remain clean and loyal to the shipping industry,” Mr Paulsen revealed. Handling 80,000 port calls, DA-Desk has emphasised today’s need for operators to optimise cost control and save money wherever possible.

He continued: “It appears that the larger the cost base, the more layers of management a port agent has, the more pressure it is under to make extra profits and save on their own costs, and this has resulted in part from many of them becoming ‘one-stop-shops’ in port agency services.”

As port disbursements are not scrutinised due to the phenomenal time factor, and supplementary costs are disregarded by operators as petty and insignificant, DA-Desk has claimed that millions of dollars are being made from owners worldwide by port agents. The company is now working with 80 major global shipping companies to tackle this issue and become the de facto monitoring system for port management costs.