Global tank container fleet grows to 652,350 units

According to the ITCO Annual Tank Container Fleet Survey, the  global tank container fleet grew to 652,350 units worldwide in 2019.

The survey shows that growth in the global tank container business slowed in 2019 to 7.88 percent when compared to 10.81 percent in 2018, reflecting the fall in global trading conditions experienced by many sectors of the container shipping industry.

The number of tank containers produced last year was lower than in 2018 and the early indications indicate a hard road ahead for manufacturers unless the market sees a significant turnround. This is the cyclical nature of the industry – a phenomenon witnessed by the industry over the past 25 years. 

In 2019, a total of 54,650 tank containers were built, compared to 59,700 in 2018, a decrease of some 5,000 units. 

The survey shows how, numerically, the industry continues to be dominated on a global level by a relatively small number of major tank container operators and leasing companies. 

The top 10 operators account for over 235,000 tanks representing over 56 percent of the global operators’ fleet of 381,700 units. The top 10 leasing companies account for 240,000 tanks, about 80 percent of the total leasing fleet of 305,615. The top three leasing companies account for 154,000 tanks, over 50 percent of the total leasing company fleet.

Reg Lee, ITCO president, commented: “While the increase in tank container production in 2019 was lower than the previous year, the market has continued to expand – due to a large extent to the continued successful conversion of certain cargoes – previously shipped in drums or transported in chemical tankers – to tank containers. In addition, China continued to see significant growth in the use of tank containers for domestic transport of bulk liquids, while inter-Asia – especially South-East Asia – tank container operations continue to develop strongly.”

Lee added: “In 2019, the majority of new tanks were purchased by leasing companies – mainly to service the equipment requirements of tank container operators. As more leasing company tank containers become available, the industry has seen the growth in the number of 3PLs and 4PLs entering the market; these companies often have little – or no – accredited infrastructure to support their growing fleet of tanks, which we can assume they have taken on because of the low lease rates on offer, and on a shorter lease period.”


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