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21 December 2014
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Dry Bulk Trades Print E-mail

Dry bulk trades comprise iron ore, coal, grain, timber, steel and other similar cargoes which are shipped in bulk as opposed to carried in containers or other unit loads. Delivering these commodities every day requires an efficient dry cargo shipping industry - without which, world trade as we know it would cease.

Dry bulk shipping refers to the movement of significant commodities carried in bulk : - the so-called major bulks, together with ships carrying steel products (coils, plates and rods), lumber or log carriers and other commodities classified as the minor bulks.

The importance of the dry bulk industry is that without the estimated 500 million deadweight tonnes of dry bulk shipping, global trade, industry and ultimately our current lifestyles, could not be maintained.

The international steel industry - for example, could not function without an efficient and cost effective maritime industry transporting the raw materials - coal and iron ore, as well as the means to ship the finished product around the world.

Looking around the average home, the unseen links with the dry cargo industry are all around. Toasting a piece of bread involves metal components in the toaster - manufactured processes using ores and alumina, grain used in the bread and coal-generated electricity providing the power.

There are three main types/sizes of bulk carrier:

bulker silhouette Size (deadweight tonnes)

No. in World fleet

(1 January 2012)

Handies 10 - 49,999 dwt 3448
Panamax 50 - 79,999 dwt 2814
Capesize 80,000+ dwt 1879

Intercargo maintains a database of other dry bulk vessels. The latest published Benchmarking Report contains the following summaries of vessels believed extant at 1 January 2012:

Type Qty
Bulk carriers over 10,0000 dwt trading internationally
7,019
Other dry bulk vessels over 10,000 Dwt trading internationally 1,122
Total international trading fleet
8,141

Other dry cargo ships include OBO's (ore/bulk/oil carriers or Combination Carriers) which are vessels able to trade alternatively between dry and wet cargoes. There are also very large ore carriers (VLOCs) which tend to be used on long-term contracts of affreightment (COAs), vessels which are used in the lumber or wood-chip trades and vessels employed in the cement trades. Smaller types of vessels - namely the handysize and handymax, can be fitted with their own discharging gear. We are frequently asked by the media about the world's largest dry cargo vessel. For many years we believe that it was the "Berge Stahl" which measures 343 metres in length with a beam of 63 metres and deadweight of 364,000 tonnes. However, in 2011, the "Vale Brasil", the first in a series of VLOCs entered service. This ship has a deadweight of 402,347 tonnes.

The dry cargo trades

Year Millions of tonnes
1990 968
2000 1,288
2001 1,331
2002 1,352
2003 1,475
2004 1587
2005 1701
2006 1876
2007(est) 1997

It is difficult to accurately portray the variety of trades covered by dry cargo shipping. The main dry bulk trades are iron ore, coal, grain plus bauxite, alumina and phosphates. Unctad's Review of Maritime Transport estimates that the growth of international seaborne trade (goods loaded) in the main bulk trades to have been as shown in the table, shown right.

Chain of responsibility

To understand the industry better, Intercargo's policies draw on the concept of the "chain of responsibility". This defines the supply chain participants as the shipowners/operators, charterers, banks/insurance/other financial interests, labour union interests, environmental interests etc.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 13:10