• There are currently around 15,200 cargo vessels sailing on European inland waterways, of which 9,800 are registered in Rhine countries, 3,500 in Danube countries and 1,900 in other European countries.

• The majority of the new dry cargo vessels that entered the European IWT market in 2019 are registered in the Netherlands (17 out of 20). Most of the new vessels (16 out of 20) had a loading capacity of more than 2,000 tonnes.

• Forty new tanker vessels entered the market in 2019, the majority being ADN type chemical tankers. In addition to 15 vessels registered in the Netherlands, 14 new tanker vessels were registered in Germany, eight new vessels in Luxembourg and three in Belgium. Out of these 40 new vessels, 24 had a loading capacity of more than 2,000 tonnes.

 

SIZE OF FLEETS (NUMBER OF INLAND VESSELS) PER MACRO-REGION AND COUNTRY IN EUROPE

 

    TABLE 1: SIZE OF FLEETS (NUMBER OF INLAND VESSELS) PER MACRO-REGION AND VESSEL TYPE IN EUROPE

     Dry cargo
    vessels
    Liquid cargo vesselsPush & tug
    boats
    Total number of vessels
    Rhine fleet7,0331,4331,3199,785
    Danube fleet2,6522046423,498
    Other countries*1,54626 #3451,917
    Total number of vessels11,2311,6632,30615,200

    Sources: 1) Rhine countries: VNF (France), CBS/Rijkswaterstaat (Netherlands), ITB (Belgium), Waterway and Shipping Administration of Germany, National register of Luxembourg and Swiss Rhine ports. 2) Danube countries: Danube Commission. 3) Other countries: Eurostat [iww_eq_loadcap]. [iww_eq_age], Czech Ministry of transport, Statistical Office of Poland
    *Other countries = Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, United Kingdom, Finland, Lithuania.
    # comprises 9 tanker vessels in Poland, 1 in the Czech Republic and 16 in Lithuania, but an unknown number in the other countries.

     

  • The following figures show the number of dry and liquid cargo vessels (self-propelled vessels and barges) and the number of push and tug boats per country in Europe. The data are the latest available and refer to 2019 for the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and to 2018 for all other countries, except for Italy and Serbia (2017). Rhine countries are shaded in dark blue, Danube countries in fair blue, and other countries in red.
  •  

    FIGURE 1: NUMBER OF DRY AND LIQUID CARGO VESSELS PER COUNTRY IN EUROPE


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_eq_loadcap] and sources used for Rhine countries in the table above
     

    FIGURE 2: NUMBER OF PUSH BOATS AND TUGBOATS PER COUNTRY IN EUROPE


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_eq_age] and sources used for Rhine countries in the table above
     
     
     

EVOLUTION OF THE RHINE FLEET

 

DRY CARGO FLEET IN RHINE COUNTRIES

  • In 2019, the number of self-propelled vessels and barges amounted to 7,033 units, which was – for the first time since 2011 – a higher number than in the previous year (+1%). The loading capacity was also above the 2018 level, with 10.6 million tonnes (+2.6%). This fleet size increase reflects the uptake in the newbuilding rate in recent years (see part on newbuildings). As in 2018 the share of the Dutch fleet represented 50% in terms of the number of vessels, and 58% in terms of loading capacity.
  •  

    FIGURE 3: EVOLUTION OF THE FLEET OF DRY CARGO VESSELS IN RHINE COUNTRIES*


    Source: CCNR based on data from Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (based on Rijkswaterstaat), Waterway administration of Germany, VNF, ITB, Swiss Rhine ports, National register of Luxembourg.
    *= self-propelled vessels and barges, without push boats and tugs

     

  • The number of dry cargo vessels in Rhine countries was 7,033 in 2019, compared to 7,776 in 2012. The reduction in this period of time was strongest in relative terms in France, where the number of vessels dropped by 246 units, or 20%. In the other three countries, the percentage reduction was 6 to 8%.
  •  

    FIGURE 4: NUMBER OF DRY CARGO VESSELS PER RHINE COUNTRY*


    Source: CCNR based on national fleet data.
    *German fleet data for 2019 are based on 2018 data.

     

  • Small vessels are often defined as vessels with a loading capacity of up to 1,500 tonnes. According to this definition, in 2019 there were approximately 4,225 small dry cargo vessels in Rhine countries, which is a share of 60% of all dry cargo vessels.
  •  

    FIGURE 5: NUMBER OF DRY CARGO VESSELS PER RHINE COUNTRY PER SIZE CLASS IN 2019*


    Sources: national fleet data, CCNR analysis
    *German fleet data are for 2018

     

  • There is also an alternative definition for a small vessel taking into account that small vessels are only those with a loading capacity of 650 tonnes or less. According to this definition, there are 703 small Dutch dry cargo vessels (20% of the Dutch dry cargo fleet in terms of numbers), and 253 small Belgian dry cargo vessels (27% of the Belgian dry cargo fleet). The number of German and French vessels with a capacity below 650 tonnes cannot be indicated, as the size categories are different in the French and German fleet statistics. An estimation based on existing size categories points to a share of more than 30% and less than 40%.

 
 

LIQUID CARGO FLEET IN RHINE COUNTRIES

  • The economic boom prior to 2009 and the need to transform the fleet from single to double hull increased the size of the fleet by around 1 million tonnes of cargo carrying capacity in only five years, between 2005 and 2010, or by almost 50%. After 2010 the newbuilding rate subsided, single hull vessels gradually left the market, and so the number of vessels was reduced. The total fleet capacity, however, remained more or less constant, as the vessels leaving the fleet were small and the new vessels coming on the market were mostly large.
  •  

    FIGURE 6: EVOLUTION OF THE FLEET OF LIQUID CARGO VESSELS IN RHINE COUNTRIES


    Source: CCNR based on national fleet data
     

  • By January 2020, the total number of 1,433 liquid cargo vessels in Rhine countries comprised 1,111 ADN type tankers, according to the European Barge Inspection scheme EBIS (The European Barge Inspection Scheme (EBIS) has been developed by oil and chemical companies as part of their commitment to improving the safety of tanker barging operations). Of these 1,098 were double hull tankers and 13 were single hull tankers. The EBIS database also indicates that there are nine LNG dual fuel tanker vessels sailing in the Rhine region.
  • The difference between all liquid cargo vessels in Rhine countries (1,433) and the number of ADN type tankers (1,111) gives a residual figure of 322 vessels. This number contains the following ship types:
    – ADN tankers (dangerous goods transport) in dedicated trade for non EBIS members,
    – older bunker vessels,
    – vegetable oil tankers,
    – freshwater vessels for the delivery of potable water to maritime vessels in seaports,
    – cement (concrete) tankers,
    – bilge boats / waste goods tankers.
  •  

    FIGURE 7: NUMBER OF ALL LIQUID CARGO VESSELS PER RHINE COUNTRY


    Source: CCNR based on national fleet data

 
 
 

EVOLUTION OF THE DANUBE FLEET AND THE CARGO FLEET IN OTHER COUNTRIES

 

DRY CARGO VESSELS IN THE DANUBE REGION

  • According to the statistics of the Danube Commission (with clarification based on surveys of shipping companies in the DC Member States) there were, by the end of 2017, around 400 push boats, 242 tugs, 409 self-propelled dry cargo vessels, and circa 2,100 dry cargo barges in the Danube fleet. More than 70% of the total transport volume is carried by pushed convoys, which are composed as set out in the table below, depending on the waterway class and shipping conditions.
  •  

    TABLE 2: TYPE OF DRY CARGO TRANSPORT ON THE DANUBE (SHARE OF TOTAL TRANSPORT IN %)

    Push boat + 7-9 pushed barges (lighter)40-42%
    Push boat + 6 lighters20-23%
    Push boat + 4 lighters12-14%

    Source: Danube Commission market observation
     

  • The total Danube fleet of dry cargo vessels has become smaller since 2005. But from the year 2014 onwards, the falling trend came to halt, and the fleet size has now stabilised. The Romanian dry cargo fleet is the largest in the Danube area with a share of around 48% of all dry cargo vessels. Its size is increasing.
  •  

    FIGURE 8: EVOLUTION OF THE DRY CARGO FLEET IN DANUBE COUNTRIES


    Source: Danube Commission

 
 

LIQUID CARGO FLEET IN THE DANUBE REGION

  • According to the statistics of the Danube Commission (with clarification based on surveys of shipping companies in the DC Member States) there were, by the end of 2017, 74 self-propelled tanker vessels and 128 tanker barges, with a total cargo capacity of around 0.22 million tonnes.
  • The total number of liquid cargo vessels in Danube countries grew until 2011 but changed to a decreasing trend in the years after 2011. The loading capacity was less affected by this negative trend which is a certain parallel to the evolution of the liquid cargo fleet in Rhine countries. Romania has the largest tanker fleet in the Danube area with around 47% of all 202 tanker vessels in Danube countries.
  • By January 2020, the database of the European Barge Inspection Scheme EBIS, which includes only ADN type tankers, contained only 34 vessels registered in Danube countries (12 in Austria, 9 in Slovakia, 9 in Romania, 4 in Serbia), of which 32 were double hull tankers and 2 were single hull tankers. Therefore, there is a large number of ADN tankers operating on the lower Danube which are not EBIS-inspected. Despite ADN legislation, a number of single hull barges are still in operation for ADN goods.
  •  

    FIGURE 9: EVOLUTION OF THE LIQUID CARGO FLEET IN DANUBE COUNTRIES


    Source: Danube Commission

 
 

CARGO FLEET IN OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

  • The following figure shows the evolution of the number of dry and liquid cargo vessels in Poland, the Czech Republic, Finland, the United Kingdom and Lithuania. Data for Italy are partly missing and are also influenced by a structural break which makes it impossible to integrate them into the series.
  •  

    FIGURE 10: NUMBER OF SELF-PROPELLED VESSELS AND BARGES IN POLAND, THE UNITED KINGDOM, FINLAND, THE CZECH REPUBLIC AND LITHUANIA


    Source: Eurostat [iww_eq_age]

 
 
 

NEW VESSEL CONSTRUCTION

  • In 2019, the newbuilding activity continued its slightly rising trend that had started in 2015 for dry cargo vessels and in 2017 for liquid cargo vessels. This rising trend represents a recovery from the low point that was reached in 2014 (dry cargo) and in 2016 (liquid cargo), as the following figure shows.
  •  

    FIGURE 11: NEW CAPACITY COMING ON THE MARKET FOR DRY AND LIQUID CARGO (LOADING CAPACITY IN 1,000 T)


    Source: IVR
     

  • The majority of the new dry cargo vessels that came on the market in 2019 are registered in the Netherlands (17 out of 20).
  •  

    FIGURE 12: NEW DRY CARGO VESSELS COMING ON THE MARKET PER COUNTRY OF REGISTER (NUMBERS, 2011-2019)


    Source: IVR
     

  • Most of the new dry cargo vessels had a loading capacity of over 2,000 tonnes. Indeed, 6 out of 20 new vessels belonged to the size class 2,000 t – 3,000 t, and 7 out of 20 were in the size class 3,000 – 4,000 t. Their loading capacity is therefore mostly higher than the present average loading capacity of the dry cargo fleet in western Europe (2,100 tonnes per vessel).
  •  

    TABLE 3: NEWLY BUILT DRY CARGO VESSELS ACCORDING TO LOADING CAPACITY

    Loading capacity201720182019
    0 < 1,000 t421
    1,000-2,000 t373
    2,000-3,000 t956
    3,000-4,000 t1237
    > 4,000 t103
    Total291720

    Source: IVR
     

  • With regard to the measurements of vessels, 5 out of 20 new dry cargo vessels measured 110 metres long and 11.5 metres wide. But smaller sized vessels were also quite frequently observed.
  • According to the IVR database, 40 new tanker vessels entered the market in 2019, and 42 according to the EBIS system. The majority were ADN type chemical tankers (38 according to EBIS), and there were a small number of 4 ADN type Gas tankers. Next to 15 vessels registered in the Netherlands there were 14 new vessels registered in Germany, 8 new vessels in Luxembourg and 3 in Belgium.
  •  

    FIGURE 13: NEW TANKER VESSELS COMING ON THE MARKET PER COUNTRY OF REGISTER (NUMBERS, 2011-2019)


    Source: IVR
     

  • The new tanker vessels belonged to different size classes, with the majority being in the category 1,000-2,000 t (15 vessels), and 2,000-3,000 t (11 vessels).
  •  

    TABLE 4: NEWLY BUILT TANKER VESSELS ACCORDING TO LOADING CAPACITY

    Loading capacity201720182019
    0 < 1,000 t121
    1,000-2,000 t101215
    2,000-3,000 t14711
    3,000-4,000 t235
    > 4,000 t148
    Total272840

    Sources: IVR, analysis CCNR
     

  • The most frequent length of the new vessels is 110 metres. 18 out of 40 new tankers in 2019 were of this classical length. The second most frequent length is 86 metres (13 vessels). Very large vessels were also observed: 6 new vessels are 135 metres long.
  • Between 2012 and 2019, 26 new tugs, push boats and push-tugs came on the European market. In 2019, there were three new boats, just as in 2018 and in 2017. One of them is the push boat MS AMBITIOUS, built for the French company Compagnie Fluviale de Transport (CFT) which is 29.5 metres long and 11.2 metres wide. The other two push boats are registered in Luxembourg (MS OTTO) and in Switzerland (MS VIKING ORVAR).
  •  
     
     

AGE STRUCTURE OF THE FLEET

  • Based on the IVR fleet database, the distribution of the number of vessels per year of construction was established for Rhine countries and it can be seen that the Rhine fleet (All vessels from the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France and Switzerland) is relatively old. About 80% of the fleet with a known year of construction were constructed in the 20th century. This applies to only about 58% of the tank cargo vessels but to about 84% of the dry cargo fleet, which enjoyed a large bulk in commissioning activity in the late 1950s and early 1960s and a smaller one in the 1980s, particularly at the start of this decade. There is even another smaller increase in the number of vessels constructed in the 1920s. Furthermore, there are many vessels in the dry cargo and liquid cargo segment that were constructed during the economic boom in the years up until the economic crisis of 2009, while this effect does not show for passenger and push/tug vessels.
  •  

    FIGURE 14: COMMISSIONING ACTIVITY FOR THE RHINE FLEET OVER TIME


    Source: IVR, CCNR analysis
    Furthermore, 212 dry cargo vessels, 69 passenger vessels, 61 push/tug vessels and 14 tank cargo vessels have an unknown year of construction.

     

  • Thanks to its large river cruise fleet (about 72% of the country’s vessels), and a small but very new tanker fleet, Switzerland has a comparatively modern fleet. Only about 23% of its vessels were constructed in the 20th century, which thus makes it the youngest Rhine fleet. On the contrary, about 94% of all vessels of the French fleet, the oldest among the Rhine countries, were constructed in the 20th century. About 78% of the vessels of the Dutch fleet, which is the largest, were constructed before 2000 (Overall, it should be mentioned that the total IVR database contains not only active vessels but partly also inactive vessels. Therefore, the term “commissioning activity” was chosen instead of age structure).
  • According to information from the market observation of the Danube Commission, the age structure of the Danube fleet (approximate figures for end of 2017) is characterised by the following ratios: around 72% of the push boats & tugs and 16% of the pushed barges are older than 40 years; 59% of the pushed barges are older than 35 years.

 
 
 

CAPACITY MONITORING

  • The average utilisation rate of the fleet is calculated with a model which takes into account transport demand per goods segment in Rhine countries (the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland), the tonnage of the fleet in Rhine countries and water levels on the Rhine at the gauge stations of Maxau, Kaub, Cologne and Duisburg. The rate of capacity utilisation is defined as the ratio of the needed fleet tonnage (derived fleet demand, based on transport demand) and the available fleet tonnage according to Rhine fleet statistics presented in part 2 of this chapter.
  •  
     

DRY CARGO VESSELS

  • In 2019, the average utilisation rate of the dry cargo fleet decreased significantly compared to 2018. In the corresponding graph, the evolution of the capacity utilisation rate, reflecting the demand/supply ratio is plotted for the different fleet segments. In 2018, the capacity utilisation of the fleet had been very high. The reason is that the low water period in 2018 had reduced the effective available fleet capacity (supply side reduction), as each vessel could only be loaded to a lesser degree. Also, more vessels had to be put into service, which further contributed to the increase of the overall utilisation rate of the fleet in 2018.
  •  

    FIGURE 15: CAPACITY UTILISATION FOR THE DRY CARGO FLEET IN RHINE COUNTRIES (PER FLEET SEGMENT)


    Source: Panteia analysis based on data provided by CCNR
     

  • In 2019, these conditions were no longer given. The effective available vessel and fleet capacity were higher (increase of supply side). In combination with a lower transport demand in 2019 (reduction of coal transport due to energy transition, reduction of iron ore transport due to trade tensions in the steel industry), the utilisation rate of the fleet decreased.
  • The average fleet utilisation rates dropped the sharpest for vessels with a load capacity of more than 2000 tonnes. The major reason for this was the vulnerability of these vessels to extreme water conditions.
  • For small and medium size vessels (vessel category < 1000 tonnes and category 1000 to 2000 tonnes), the capacity utilisation dropped less sharply. These vessels are generally optimised for navigating the Dutch or German canal networks with significant draft limitations. The light weight and empty draft of these vessels is relatively low, which allows them to pass the shallow sections on the Middle Rhine even under difficult low water conditions. Also, vessels in these categories were affected to a lesser extent by energy transition, as they are mainly involved in the transport of agricultural products and building materials.
  • Although the dry cargo fleet capacity in 2019 was smaller than in 2009, when the financial crisis broke out, there was still overcapacity in the dry cargo fleet. This is mainly the result of a lower demand for dry cargo vessels; the demand for dry cargo ships in 2019 was even lower than during the financial crisis in 2009 and 2010.

 
 

LIQUID CARGO VESSELS

  • In 2019 the average utilisation rate of the liquid cargo fleet dropped by nine percentage points from 85% to 76%. The major reason for this decrease was the absence of low water levels in 2019. Throughout the year, the entire Rhine had rather good navigation conditions. Therefore, the cargo carrying capacity of liquid bulk tankers could be utilised to or near the maximum extent. This was contrary to 2018, when large parts of the year were affected by low waters, resulting in high capacity utilisation rates for the liquid cargo fleet.
  •  

    FIGURE 16: CAPACITY UTILISATION FOR THE LIQUID CARGO FLEET IN RHINE COUNTRIES (PER FLEET SEGMENT)


    Source: Panteia analysis based on data provided by CCNR
     

  • The capacity utilisation rate was nevertheless quite high in 2019, due to more transport demand for mineral oil products (a temporary closure of a refinery in Switzerland thereby played a role) as well as to a relatively low supply side. The decommissioning of single hull tankers, which reduced the fleet capacity significantly in recent years, resulted in a relatively low supply side level in 2019. As a result of all the above-mentioned factors, the capacity utilisation rates of all fleet categories decreased but was still at a relatively high level.
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