State of the Barge Industry Highlighted at FreightWeek STL

By on May 29, 2018

From St. Louis Regional Freightway:  The state of the barge industry was among the first educational sessions offered to attendees of FreightWeek STL, a four-day conference hosted by Inland Marine Expo (IMX), Institute for Trade and Transportation Studies (ITTS) and St. Louis Regional Freightway. Representatives of Informa Economics IEG, which is part of Agribusiness Intelligence and the world’s leading comprehensive agricultural, commodity and transportation market research, analysis and consulting firm headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., provided attendees with insight into the Barge Fleet Profile Report before Columbia, Ill.-based Heartland Companies gave a barge industry update.

Ken Eriksen, senior vice-president of Informa Economics IEG; Alan Barrett, Senior Consultant of Informa Economics IEG; and Chaz Jones, Transportation Analyst of Informa Economics IEG, discussed the Barge Fleet Profile Report, which is an annual survey of all the operators on the system that has been conducted for the last 31 years. Areas of focus during the presentation were tied to fleet expansion, covered and dry barge fleet dynamics, U.S. shallow draft towboats fleet halts and U.S. inland shallow draft towboat engine manufacturer by power, just to name a few.

“We are starting to emerge out of overcapacity,” said Eriksen in summarizing the state of the barge industry. “There is a lot of fleet to try to get to before we can do some mass retirement, so we’ve got a big fleet out there, but its shrunk. We’ve removed some ability to expand and now there is a governor on the system. We may be, in a sense, making a U-turn right now in the industry, and if we start throwing some more volume at it, we could see a lot of growth here.  As we talk about the commodities – we are seeing very solid grain movements and stability on the coal. Though we saw some big exports this year, going forward we may face some headwinds on coal. Meanwhile, some other commodities want to start moving down the river and we are seeing opportunity.”

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