Commercial shipping is the use of ships to move goods over water. Waterborne commerce represented just 7.4% of U.S. freight tonnage in 2004, but is a critical component of the country's transportation network because of its cost advantage over other forms of transportation.The average cost per ton-mile of barge transportation is 66% less than rail transportation, and 97% less than truck transportation. That advantage comes, in part, because the average ton mile per gallon of fuel of one barge is 40% greater than a rail car, and 270% greater than a truck’s, with similar efficiencies for tankers and dry bulk carriers.
The main dry cargo that is shipped both domestically and internationally is grain, iron ore and steel, coal, and cement. The main liquid cargo shipped by U.S. companies includes oil, natural gas, petrochemicals, ethanol, and bio-diesel.
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Mississippi and Ohio River Systems, and many other waterways can be found throughout the U.S. The barges moving along these waterways are not self propelled, however. More than 50 are latched together at a time and pushed by towboats, or pulled by tugboats from one port to another. Although some barges can transport both dry and liquid cargo, most are specialized to move just one of the two. Companies can be classified by the type of goods that they transport, but many move both dry and liquid cargo.
The inland dry cargo transportation industry is dominated by four large companies - their barges account for a little less than 2/3rd's of the industry total. Grain, steel, and coal constitute the majority of goods moved, and are classified as non-bulk items. Bulk items include salt, alumina (which is used to make aluminum), fertilizers, cement, ferro alloys, ore, and gypsum. Growth in demand for bulk and non-bulk items has been meager, in 2007 the volume of dry goods shipped fell by about 10%. Although much of that decline came as a result of a temporary decline in wheat production, brought about by poor weather conditions, growth in the industry itself is slowing, unlike with the inland liquid cargo shipping and international dry cargo shipping industry.
|Source: ||Dry Cargo Barges||Average Age Of Barges (Yrs)|
|Ingram Barge Company||3,633||16.4|
|American Commercial Lines (ACLI)||2,639||20.4|
|AEP/MEMCO Barge Line, Inc.||2,628||10.9|
|American River Transportation Company||2,061||25.7|
The liquid transportation industry is small, accounting for just 15% of the overall inland shipping industry in 2007. However, that share has been rising; in 2007 the volume of liquid goods shipped rose 10%, while the volume of dry goods shipped fell by that same amount. Volume has been rising because demand for petrochemicals, ethanol, and bio-diesel has been increasing. A number of petrochemical production facilities are located along U.S. inland waterways, translating greater refinery production into increased inland liquids shipping.
|Source: ||Liquid Cargo Barges||Average Age of Barges (Yrs)|
|American Commercial Lines (ACLI)||371||22.6|
|Marathon Ashland Petroleum||180||19.1|
|Canal Barge Company, Inc.||170||6.1|
|Ingram Barge Company||165||28.5|
In 2007, 58% of the petroleum consumed in the U.S. came from other countries. Be it from Canada or Saudi Arabia, the oil needs to be brought to the U.S. Supertankers are capable of transporting more than 2 million barrels of oil across the ocean per journey. Because of their size, many can't unload at docks and travel through coastal waterways, and so must transfer their cargo to smaller (but still large) tankers. Within the U.S., crude oil needs to be shipped from oil wells to refineries. Then the finished products need to be shipped to distribution centers.
|FY 2006||Ships Owned||Ships Charted||Shipping Capacity (Millions of Deadweight Tons)||Revenues||Net Income|
|Double Hull Tankers (DHT)||7||0||1.4||$81M||$28M|
|General Maritime (GMR)||30||0||2.4||$255M||$45M|
|Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG)||74||63||11.7||$1.13B||$211K|
|Teekay Shipping (TK)||82||47||19.3||$2.01B||$262M|
|Tsakos Energy Navigation (TNP)||14||26||4.5||$428M||$196M|
Liquid shipping accounts for 38% of sea-based trade, while dry bulk shipping accounts for 36%. The principal goods moved on dry bulk vessels include iron ore (used to make steel), coal, cement, and wheat.
|'||Revenue||Net Income||Dry Bulk Capacity in Deadweight Tons|
|Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL)||?||?||30.3M|
|Cosco Corporation (F83-SG)||?||?||16.4M|
|Excel Maritime Carriers (EXM)||$400M||$168.3M||3.9M|
|Navios Maritime Holdings (NM)||$206M||$21.1M||3.6M|
|DryShips (DRYS) (2006)||$248M||$56.7M||3M|
|Genco Shipping (GNK) (2007)||$185M||$107M||2.02M|
|Diana Shipping (DSX) (2007)||$190M||$134M||1.8M|
|Eagle Bulk Shipping (2007)||$125M||$52.M||916K|
Shipping oilfield service companies perform vital functions for oil and gas companies, moving personnel and cargo, handling anchors and other marine equipment, and supporting construction and maintenance work for offshore oil and gas platforms. Liftboats have the multipurpose space and capacity to do all of that, and are self-elevating, letting them attach to similarly elevated oil and gas platforms. To put the fleet size of the companies below into perspective, in 2007 there were some 235 liftboats in operation worldwide.
|Hercules Offshore (HERO)||65||$766M||$136M|
|Superior Energy Services (SPN)||37||$1,572M||$281M|
|'||Achor Handling Towing Supply||Crew & Mini-Supply||Towing-Supply & Supply||Standby Safety||Other||Total Fleet||Revenues||Net Income|
|Trico Marine Services (TRMA)||6||7||49||0||11||73||$256M||$67M|
|Seacor Holdings (CKH)||20||98||40||29||13||206||$692M||$288M|