MTS adding a 24 per cent fuel surcharge to barge cargo

Marine Transportation Services, owned by the Government of Northwest Territories, is adding a 24 per cent fuel surcharge on goods transported by barge.

Fuel surcharge comes as gas prices soar across the country

The barges leave Hay River and Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to bring critical fuel and other dry goods to Arctic coastal and Mackenzie River communities every summer. This season MTS vessels are expected to reach 12 communities in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. (N.W.T. Department of Infrastructure)

Marine Transportation Services (MTS) is charging an additional 24 per cent in fuel surcharge for freight this year, citing an increase in global fuel costs. 

The change is noted in a footnote in an MTS document outlining 2022 cargo rates. 

Based in Hay River, N.W.T., MTS is a government-owned barge company that services remote communities that are generally inaccessible to year-round road access, like Norman Wells, Kugluktuk, Paulatuk, Lutsel K'e, and Inuvik. 

For many of these remote communities, annual barge deliveries are a lifeline that transports essential goods, including food, supplies, and gas. The cost of living is also among the highest in the country, largely due to the associated costs of transportation. 

The price of gas is currently soaring, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine adding strain on supply chains. A recent article by CBC noted that there are several other factors driving the upward trend, including the price of crude oil. 

The N.W.T.'s department of infrastructure, which oversees MTS, confirmed the increase in fuel surcharge. 

"[The government] recognizes the fuel surcharge will impact MTS customers. At the same time, the cost of providing services has increased due to factors we don't control," said Darren Campbell, a spokeperson for the department.

Campbell also said fuel surcharges are common in the industry and are often used to offset spikes in fuel prices. MTS re-evaluates the fuel surcharge at the end of each shipping season. 

The department also confirmed that the barge company has posted a bid to contract out marine cargo transportation throughout the territory.