The global barge transportation market size was valued at USD 107.8 billion in 2017. It is projected to reach progress at a CAGR of 3.4% from 2018 to 2025. Rising demand for petrochemical products across developed as well as developing countries, including the U.S., China, and Germany, is one of the primary growth stimulants for the market. Benefits associated with barge transportation in terms of costs, efficiency, and safety and security of cargo are also expected to propel the market.
Growing export and import trade coupled with improving economic conditions in most part of the world are particularly playing a significant role in stimulating market growth. Increasing domestic trade is boosting the need for an efficient mode of transportation. Barge transportation can particularly cater to this need. Additionally, advancements in barge manufacturing technologies are anticipated to further trigger the growth of the market over the forecast period.
The market holds immense growth potential over the forecast period owing to several factors, including increasing investments and initiatives undertaken by various governments for development of effective inland water infrastructure and research activities undertaken by major industry incumbents to develop new designs and upgrade existing designs of barges. For instance, hybrid LNG barges can be considered as a fuel-efficient and environment-friendly alternative for conventional diesel-fired ones.
Barges can be majorly divided into three types, namely covered, open, and tank. Covered type is primarily used to haul dry goods such as agricultural produce, pharmaceutical products, and electronic & digital appliances. On the other hand, tank ones are used to transport commodities such as crude oil, petrochemicals, and liquid chemicals as well as food pulps and juices. Rising demand for petrochemicals is estimated to stir up the demand for tank barges over the forecast period.
Barges offer a large haulage capacity. For instance, a river barge can carry approximately 1,500 tons of goods, which is 15 times as much as a 100-ton jumbo hopper railroad car and 60 times as much as a trailer truck with a 25-ton carrying capacity can carry. They can, thus, be considered an ideal mode of transport for hauling commodities in bulk. Clearly, industries requiring to transport goods in large quantities are preferring barge transportation. Large haulage capacity coupled with lower operating costs is supporting the growth of the market.
In terms of type of cargo, the market is classified into liquid cargo, gaseous cargo, and dry cargo. The liquid cargo segment covers carriage of petrochemicals, refined petroleum products, pressurized products, liquid fertilizers, and black oil products, among others. Gaseous cargo involves transportation of products such as LPG and CNG. The dry cargo segment covers carriage of commodities such as coal, fertilizers, and grains.
Dry cargo is estimated to dominate the market through 2025 owing to large quantities of coal as well as growing volumes of agricultural products being transported in barges. However, dwindling demand for coal is poised to hinder the growth of the segment over the coming years. On the other hand, the liquid cargo segment is likely to register a significant CAGR over the forecast period owing to burgeoning demand for petrochemicals and increasing production of shale oil in the U.S.
Some of the primary application areas of barge transportation are coal, crude and petroleum products, liquid chemicals, food pulp and other liquids, agricultural products, metal ores and fabricated metal products, pharmaceuticals, dry and gaseous chemicals, LPG, CNG, and other gaseous products, and electronics and digital equipment. The crude and petroleum segment is expected to be at the forefront of the market throughout the forecast horizon as the demand for coal continues to plummet. Besides this, growing demand for crude oil and increasing production of ethanol are promoting the growth of the segment .
Coal consumption has declined in recent times owing to stringent regulations being drafted by various governments to curb air pollution and prevent environmental damages caused by burning it. At the same time, adoption of cleaner and low-cost fuels, such as natural gas, has been rising.
Surging usage of barges for the transportation of agricultural produce is bolstering the growth of the agricultural products segment. Rapidly evolving agriculture and food processing technologies are leading to increased demand for favorable modes of transport to haul agricultural cargoes in bulk, thereby escalating the growth of the segment. On the other hand, safety ensured by barges while transporting chemicals and pharmaceutical products is anticipated to augment the overall barge transportation market.
Based on barge fleet, the market is divided into covered, open, and tank. The tank segment dominated the market in 2017 and is likely to reach USD 66.6 billion by 2025. The growth of the segment can be primarily attributed to spiraling demand for crude oil and petrochemicals. Additionally, several governments are encouraging use of barges for transporting liquids to prevent events involving spillage of hazardous chemicals on roadways.
The covered segment is projected to witness a noteworthy CAGR during the forecast period owing to growing adoption of covered types for hauling agricultural produce in bulk quantities. Agricultural production has been on a rise in developed as well as developing countries. An active and efficient mode of transport would be necessary to haul all this agricultural produce.
Covered barges can be used to transport agricultural produce in an effective manner while also reducing the overall costs of transportation. The trend is particularly evident in the U.S., where barge transport businesses tend to report strong financial numbers for third and fourth quarters owing to grain harvesting season.
On the basis of barge activities, the market is bifurcated into intracoastal transportation and inland water transportation on the basis of their usage. The inland water transportation is anticipated to hold the largest share in the market until 2025.
Benefits of using inland waterways for transportation as compared to other modes of transportation include fewer traffic delays, lower costs, and a better safety record. However, the intracostal transportation segment is poised to expand at a higher CAGR during the forecast period. Rise in international and domestic trade is estimated to benefit the growth of the market over the forecast period.
North America is anticipated to exhibit the highest CAGR of 4.3% over the forecast period. A well-established inland waterway infrastructure in the U.S. is driving the market in North America. The U.S. happens to be a resource-rich nation, which needs a reliable transport network. As a result, it has a significantly developed infrastructure of locks and dams, water storage reservoirs, hydroelectric power, levees, and other facilities, which bodes well for the market. Rise in the production of shale oil in the U.S. is also creating immense opportunities for barge transportation.
Europe is estimated to be the leading revenue contributor in the global arena throughout the forecast arena. Factors such as improving economic conditions and a well-established network of inland waterways are triggering the demand for barges. The Netherlands boasts well-developed waterways. Besides, the Dutch government has undertaken various initiatives for development of barge transportation in the country. As a result, the Netherlands is poised to hold a significant share in the Europe market.
Asia Pacific is likely to emerge as the second most promising region during the same period owing to major steps taken by various governments to develop inland waterways coupled with rapidly improving regional economy and rising import and export trade. China is projected to post a CAGR of 2.9% over the forecast period. Abundance of water resources and an extensive waterway network totaling to over 24,000 km, comprising of Grand Canal, Yangtze River, and several other canals and tributaries, are expected to contribute to the growth of the region.
The market is a highly competitive in nature owing to presence of several players. Increasing spending on R&D activities by major players is resulting in development of new technologies and improvements in operations of the fleet, which is expected to intensify the competition.
Several unorganized players, particularly independent barge service providers active in domestic marketplace and focusing on inland transport, also have a strong presence in marketplace. There are several players operating in North America and Europe.
Key players operating in the market include Campbell Transportation Company, Inc.; Alter Logistics; American Commercial Lines LLC; Heartland Barge; and Kirby Corporation.
Base year for estimation
Actual estimates/Historic data
2014 - 2016
2018 - 2025
Revenue in USD Billion and CAGR from 2018 to 2025
North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, and MEA
U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Netherlands, China, Japan, and Brazil
Revenue forecast, competitive landscape, growth factors, and trends
15% free customization scope (equivalent to 5 analysts working days)
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This report forecasts revenue growth at the global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis of industry trends in each of the sub-segments from 2014 to 2025. For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global barge transportation market report based on type of cargo, barge fleet, application, barge activities, and region:
Type of Cargo outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Barge Fleet outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Application outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Crude and petroleum products
Food pulp and other liquids
Metal ores and fabricated metal products
Dry and gaseous chemicals
LPG, CNG, and other gaseous products
Electronics and digital equipment
Barge Activities outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Inland water Transportation
Regional Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
MEA (Middle East and Africa)
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