[ID] => 10983
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2019-05-02 09:20:23
[post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-02 08:20:23
[post_content] => Nearly 60,000 new tank containers rolled off the production lines last year, according to the International Tank Container Organisation’s (ITCO) Annual Global Tank Container Survey
. As a result, given limited disposals, the global fleet grew by 10.8 per cent over the year to an estimated 604,700 tanks in service. This is the highest rate of growth since the 2014-15 period.
The ITCO survey, prepared once again on the basis of research carried out by Shanghai Maritime University, states that this growth has been underpinned by firm demand, which led to the entry of another high-volume manufacturer in China.
“The trend continues to successfully convert certain cargoes to tank containers,” the survey remarks. It is notable that this conversion is coming both from smaller packages (primarily drums) and from the parcel tanker sector, with intermodal tank containers able to reach inland and remove the need for cargoes to be transferred at the ports. In addition, China is experiencing “significant growth” in the use of tank containers for the domestic transport of bulk liquids, ITCO says.
WHO’S GOT THE TANKS
According to ITCO, 59,700 new tank containers were manufactured in 2018, an increase of 23.1 per cent over the 2017 figure of 44,000. Of that increase, 23 per cent was accounted for by Dalian CRRC Container, a new entrant to the field, although the other Chinese manufacturers – Nantong Tank Container, CIMC, Singamas and CXIC Group – mostly increased their output. Indeed, of the six major manufacturers, the only one to record lower output in 2018 was South Africa-based Welfit Oddy, the only non-Chinese manufacturer of any major significance.
It is clear that the leasing companies are taking most of the new production, as they have in recent years. ITCO calculates that the lessor-owned tank fleet stood at 286,000 units at the start of 2019, up from 245,000 a year earlier, an increase of 16.7 per cent and representing 68.7 per cent of new production over the year.
However, ITCO also estimates that the number of idle tanks has risen sharply; it calculates that the proportion of the fleet that is idle at any time, either by being out of the market for repair or maintenance, being repositioned or waiting for purchase as newly manufactured tanks, is normally in the range of 10 to 15 per cent. At present, however, given the large number of new tanks that have been produced and the current volatile market, that estimate has been upped to 15 to 18 per cent. That means that, in its analysis of the overall fleet, it gives an estimate of 42,785 idle tanks at the start of 2019, compared to 32,000 a year earlier.
Similarly, ITCO has calculated a higher number of disposals from the fleet over the course of 2018 than it has in recent years. While tanks are normally depreciated over 20 years and can remain in service for much longer with good maintenance and refurbishment, the economics have changed given the low price being charged for new tanks at the moment. ITCO has included a nominal figure of 7,000 for disposals in its 2019 survey, up from 4,500 a year earlier, and says it expects to see this figure increase in coming years.
WHERE HAVE THE TANKS GONE
In fact, despite the flood of new tanks arriving from the manufacturers over the past year, the total number of owned and leased-in tanks in the hands of operators rose by only 4.6 per cent to 381,750 at the start of 2019, compared to 365,000 a year earlier.
There has been a more significant increase in the number of tanks owned and leased in by shippers and what ITCO lists as ‘others’ – a broad classification that includes the military, rail operators, mining firms and, perhaps most significantly, domestic Chinese companies.
Since ITCO has been working with Shanghai Maritime University, the data in its annual survey appear to have become a lot more dependable (HCB knows only too well how difficult it can be to get reliable figures in this market). Over the past four years, there has been a slight increase in the number of operators listed in the survey, standing now at 212, but little movement in the number of leasing companies, which fell by one to 35 this year as a result of some consolidation.
This year’s detailed fleet numbers for operators show that Stolt Tank Containers (STC), the Bertschi Group and Intermodal Tank Transport (ITT) have all added significantly to their fleets. With most of the new tanks going to leasing companies, there has been more movement among the lessor fleets, with strong growth for Exsif Worldwide and Eurotainer, the latter having leap-frogged Seaco Global into second place in the list, as well as CS Leasing on the back of consolidation and, to a lesser extent, Trifleet and Raffles Lease. There has also been the emergence into the list of Sinochem International affiliate Albatross Tank Leasing.
WHAT’S IN STORE
The ITCO survey mentions that tank container manufacturing capacity is continuing to grow, with further entrants in both China and eastern Europe. It is perhaps that last comment that points a way into the future for the sector and it is noticeable that ITCO’s April 2019 newsletter contained a report from a conference organised by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) on the theme of containers and container transport.
The container industry in Russia and other parts of eastern Europe has been extremely innovative in coming up with new concepts for the design and use of containers and tank containers – fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) tanks being just one development that was largely driven by Russian rail users as far back as 2014. RS has developed and introduced rules for the manufacture of FRP tank containers, as well as rules for their design, repair and operation, while work continues at the UN Sub-committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods to assess the safety implications of such tanks.
During the RS event, a number of other innovations were revealed, designed to meet the needs of shippers in the Russian Federation, which are making increasing use of tank container transport. Unicon 1520 presented a new generation of rail tank cars with an increased carrying capacity designed for a wide range of chemical and foodgrade liquids, as well as a new tank container design for use with liquid and solidifying chemicals of Classes 3, 6, 8 and 9, specifying in particular their compatibility with sulphuric acid and sodium hydroxide. Safe Technologies Industrial also showed some new designs for transport refuelling containers for specialist applications.
ITCO is now preparing for its major European showcase, the ITCO Village, which will take up more space than ever before – 72 ITCO members will be exhibiting – in Hall B4 of the Messe München as part of the Transport Logistic 2019 event, which takes place over four days from 4 June.
Later this year, ITCO’s Members Meeting will take place in Amsterdam on 30 September and 1 October. The venue, the Hilton Hotel Apollolaan, will be familiar to readers of a certain age as the location of John & Yoko’s bed-in, still celebrated by the hotel each year. More relevant to all readers, HCB’s editor, Peter Mackay, will lead a panel discussion on the transport of polymerising substances in tank containers, featuring speakers from ITCO members and the TT Club.
ITCO’s next Asia Regional Meeting will take place on 27 November in Shanghai; it will feature a morning workshop focusing on the @tco Depot Audit Project.
Full details of all ITCO activities can be found on the Organisation’s website.
[post_title] => Tank containers: Up we go again
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => tank-containers-go
[post_modified] => 2019-05-01 13:26:31
[post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-01 12:26:31
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=10983
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