Panamax Ships Seen Hauling 55% of Coal Traded Globally by 2014

Panamax ships, the largest to navigate the Panama Canal, will carry 55 percent of coal traded worldwide by 2014 as bigger Capesize vessels focus on hauling iron ore, said ICAP Shipping International Ltd.

Panamaxes make up 26 percent of the dry-bulk fleet by capacity and can dock at ports in Indonesia, the leading global coal exporter, the London-based shipbroker said in an e-mailed report today.

Supramax vessels, about 25 percent smaller than Panamaxes, will transport more than 25 percent of the coal shipped by sea within two years, ICAP said, citing internal research. Capesizes, the fleet’s biggest ships, carried 90 percent of the world’s iron-ore cargoes in 2012, up from 70 percent a decade ago, according to the shipbroker.

“The robust iron-ore business will limit Capesize vessels’ ability to compete with smaller vessels in the coal sector,” ICAP said.

Coal and iron ore comprise 54 percent of the 4.2 billion metric tons of minerals and grains forecast to be shipped by sea in 2013, according to London-based Clarkson Plc, the biggest shipbroker. Iron ore, a steelmaking raw material, is the world’s second-largest commodity shipped by sea after crude oil, Clarkson data show.

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