A barge is a flat-bottomed ship, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and must be towed or pushed by towboats, canal barges or towed by draft animals on an adjacent towpath.
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.
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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.
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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.
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Dry cargo is estimated to dominate the market through 2028 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.
Major Key Players in this market Include Campbell Transportation Company, Inc.; Alter Logistics; American Commercial Lines LLC; Heartland Barge; and Kirby Corporation.