U.S Flag Lakers - Steel Slowdown Apparent

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The downturn in steel production impacted U.S.-Flag lakers’ November iron ore float. The fleet moved 3.9 million net tons of iron ore in November, a decrease of 3.2 percent compared to a year ago, and a drop of 8.8 percent compared to the month’s 5-year average. Not one iron ore cargo was transshipped in November, as the steel mill in Cleveland, Ohio, has idled its blast furnaces. The last time the iron ore trade on the Cuyahoga River was silent during the shipping season was in 2001 when LTV Steel was facing extinction.

The decrease in iron ore cargos in November was actually greater than the totals suggest. The fleet experienced significant weather-related delays in November of 2007. The 4 million net tons that moved a year ago were not indicative of demand.

The dredging crisis did not help matters in November. Even the top iron ore loads were 8,000 tons or more below vessels’ rated capacities.

For the year, U.S.-Flag carriage stands at 95.2 million net tons, an increase of roughly 700,000 net tons over the same point in 2007. However, the U.S.-Flag float lags behind the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe by 850,000 net tons.

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