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March 15, 2010

U.S. inland barge fleet shrinks

In 2009 the U.S. inland barge fleet shrank for the first time in four years and now is the smallest since 1988. There were 628 new barges added to the overall fleet as of the end of last year while 1,126 barges were retired, according to the latest annual Berge Fleet Profile, just released by Informa Economics, Inc. The number of covered barges declined for the eleventh consecutive year, open barges fell for the first time since 2004, while the number of tank barges increased for the third year.

The Barge Fleet Profile, now in its 23rd year, identifies the line haul, commodity carrying fleet of inland barges operating on the Mississippi River system, its connecting waterways and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The report, which is compiled through an annual survey of operators as well as information from the Army Corps of Engineers, also summarizes the size and average age of the fleet by barge operator for each type of barge.

Informa has also just released a sister publication, the Barge Commodity Profile, which is in its sixth year and which provides barge pressure indices -- a tool for assessing the supply and demand for barges -- and barometers of barge fleet size and movements by commodity type, commodity ton miles and average distance hauled.

The reports are available at www.bargefleet.com. The Barge Fleet Profile is priced at $100 each while the Barge Commodity Profile is $450. Both reports can be purchased together for $500.


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