Steel prices put barge fleet expansion on hold

The high price of steel has put a hold on building new barges.

Tom Torretti, director of bulk sales and logistics for Consolidated Grain and Barge Company is based in St. Louis. He says, “Today a new barge with covers costs $900,000 to 1 million bucks. We are not going to be building any barges at that value because we can’t make the number work.”

He tells Brownfield this isn’t an immediate issue but could be a problem if steel prices remain high.

“Right now the industry has approximately 11,800 covered hopper barges which should be enough to go around for all commodities, but there will become a time that unless the price of barges goes down, the industry fleet with shrink.”

He says last year the industry built 226 covered hopper barges, many of which were orders finally being fulfilled from previous years.

Brownfield interviewed Torretti during the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association Convention last week.