Currently, Marcon International, Inc., the ship sale & chartering firm, has 62 inland tank barges available for sale, down from 124 in June 1996. Most of these are typical U.S. inland river units of approximately 30 years of age (vs. an average active U.S. inland fleet age of 24 years).
Marcon also has listed and available for sale a total of 41 ocean and coastwise barges compared with 50 in June 1996. Most of these are older single skin units.
Even with OPA 90 retirement dates approaching and double skins being built, the firm reports not seeing any great numbers of U.S. single hull tank barges coming on the market - especially from the ocean and coastal fleets.
There is a wide split in price ranges for those vessels for sale
. Older charter-free units, either out of certificate or coming up on drydocking and internal structural inspections, are being offered out at prices as low as $3.50-5.50 per BBL for inland units, $10-15 per BBL for mid-size ocean units and even as low as $3.70-4.70 for larger ocean units.
Barges with both active certificates and actively trading are maintaining their higher price levels based more on the value of that trade than the bare barge itself. Asking prices for these range above $10 per BBL for inland units, $40-50 per BBL for mid-size ocean barges and $17-30 per BBL for the larger units above 16,000dwt.
The company says, the overall decline in price many expected in the single hull fleet has not yet happened and especially in the ocean and coastal fleets will probably continue to be delayed by the increase in retro-fitting existing hulls, sale/leaseback of captive fleets and slow replacement of single hulls by smaller operators in view of building costs of appox. $100/BBL+ depending on options, vapor recovery, coatings, etc.
The company also says, of all the tank barges listed for sale, there are only about a dozen that are double skin with most in inland service on rivers, lakes, bays and sounds. That is not to say the company could not develop newer, double-skin, ocean units from operators on a private and confidential basis who might consider upgrading to larger units, but prices would probably be close to newbuilding cost.