In May 2020, Marcon reported 617 tugs officially on the market for sale, up 15.54% from one year ago, while it reported 73 push boats officially for sale, down 22.68% from one year ago. Marcon ended second quarter 2020 with 16 sales completed, including four tugs, which involved many deals which were well in the works before the Covid-19 situation developed. Since that time, the market has been extremely slow, which we see reflected across the board both domestically and world-wide.
Marcon has 27 inland and 25 ocean or coastal tank barges available for sale out of 680 tracked as of end-November 2019, fewer than were available one year ago. Marcon has several US and foreign flagged tank barges for sale but there has not been much appetite for the prices offered against the requirements of the Buyers. The ocean / coastal market generally remains in a situation of 'over tonnage' with too many barges and not enough work. Looking at select third quarter earnings releases, owners are reporting that in the inland and coastal markets, day rates were flat or slightly up, while utilization remained flat.
Marcon has 275 supply and tug supply boats available for sale out of 2,998 tracked as of mid-June 2019, fewer than were available one year ago. Of all vessels sold to date in 2019, only two were at asking prices, while others were as low as 50% of asking, bearing out what we have seen elsewhere - sellers' prices have been above market value for vessels of their age and condition or at just above scrap levels to get the vessel sold. The few sales there have been of OSVs remain at deeply discounted levels. It seems the longer the market takes to come back, even bargain prices are not enough to attract buyers. We have been told the OSV market is picking up in the US Gulf as far as charters and term work a bit, but mostly related to larger 280'-300' tonnage. Unfortunately, charter rates are not enough to justify bringing many vessels out of 'stacked / laid up' status to pursue the business.
Marcon has sold three tugs totaling 12,700BHP as of end first quarter 2019, after selling or fixing tows for 22 tugs totaling 77,280BHP in 2018. Marcon has 547 tugs officially on the market for sale worldwide, down 38 or 6.50% from one year ago, February 2018, and down 140 or 20.38% from February 2014. While today's average age of tugs on the market is 25 years, almost 13% of the tugs listed today are 50+ years old. The three tugs sold to date 2019 went for an average $904.22/BHP (avg 31 years old), which were under special circumstances and we do not expect this price level to continue. In comparison, the 18 tugs sold in 2018 averaged $84.39/BHP (avg 37 years old).
Marcon's view is that the various markets remain a mixed bag. Whipsaw oil prices continue to bring uncertainty to the offshore market. Just about anyone we speak with has given up trying to predict a turn around. Owners have taken a duck and cover approach. Buyers are usually only hunting for "deals". The decline may be over, but the new normal is painful.
Marcon has 28 sales and charters so far in 2018, compared to 19 in 2017. Even with this increase, we cannot provide a blanket description of today's market. Some sectors are obviously doing well while others remain in the doldrums. Needless to say, the sectors tied to offshore oil continue to be depressed. Offshore service vessels have been selling, but only at bargain prices.The tug and barge market is brighter, subject to the sector and region. The US inland barge market is steady with presently good demand for both hopper and tank barges.
Most of us have struggled the last eight years with a lackluster, start & stop recovery wondering if there would ever be a light at the end of the tunnel. With growth and trade now off to good starts in 2018, the light may have arrived and the future appears great for global growth, trade and Marcon's sales.
There two options for documenting compliance with the requirements for Subchapter M to obtain a USCG Certificate of Inspection for a towing vessel, either through the USCG or through the Towing Safety Management System (TSMS).
I have always believed in a version of the trickle-down theory, at least in tracking markets, by following summary of global growth and trade down to transportation, utilization and earnings.
Nobody in business likes uncertainty. That is not reality. The reality is that uncertainty is the only thing that is certain.