October 29, 2009
Kirby keeps up barge building program
As expected inland tank barge giant Kirby Corporation reported third quarter earnings per share below those of last year. Still, cash flow remained strong and for 2010, Kirby plans to take advantage of attractive construction prices for tank barges and build fifty 10,000 barrel and five 30,000 barrel tank barges.
Capital expenditures of $163 million in the first nine months of 2009 included $121.8 million for new tank barge and towboat construction and $41.2 million for upgrades to the existing fleet. During the period Kirby took delivery of 37 new tank barges and seven new chartered barges with a total capacity of 974,000 barrels. Kirby also took delivery of three 1,800 horsepower towboats. During the fourth quarter, Kirby anticipates the delivery of nine tank barges and one towboat.
For 2010, in addition to the fifty 10,000 barrel and five 30,000 barrel barges, Kirby will take delivery of three tank barges that were delayed from 2009 and three towboats. New construction cost for 2010 is anticipated to total approximately $60 million.
Kirby anticipates it will retire approximately 90 barges during 2009 and for 2010, based on current market demand, anticipates that retirements will exceed new construction capacity.
Kirby will continue to review its overall capacity levels and make adjustments as the markets dictate.
The company continued to downsize its towboat fleet during the 2009 third quarter, operating an average of 215 towboats compared with 255 operated during the 2008 third quarter, releasing chartered towboats and laying up Kirby owned towboats to balance its horsepower requirements with volume demand. Going forward, Kirby will continue to monitor its towboat requirements and downsize or increase its towboat fleet as market changes warrant.