Inland Towing Market Numbers

In February, Kirby Corp acquired Higman Marine for $419 Million. Not new news.

  • Prior to the buyout, Kirby had 841 inland tank barges with 227 towboats and 56 coastal tank barges with 53 tugboats.

Higmans fleet ADDED 161 inland tank barges with 75 inland towboats.

Kirbys fleet is now over 350 vessels with over 1,000 tank barges including inland and coastal operations.

Quotes from an article about the acquisition in this months Professional Mariner:

“The barges acquired from Higman have an average age of 7 years and we estimate value is about $275 million” So $275 million /161 tank barges = $1.7 million/ inland tank barge

“We estimate the value of the towboats acquired from Higman at roughly $200 million” 200 Million / 75 towboats = 2.66 Million / inland towboat

Market value for equipment aged 7 years in this transaction:

$1.7 million per inland tank barge

$2.66 Million per inland towboat

Doesn’t that sound a bit high? Maybe other transactions taking place behind the scenes?

I wouldn’t know! I just found the numbers curious.
I’m going to assume that the boats were on average 2,000HP around 75 feet long and I would also imagine that the majority, if not all of the tank barges bought from Higman would be 30,000 barrel barges (297 ft long x 54 ft wide). Also, the barges were on average 7 years old. The article said nothing about the fleet age of the towboats so I just assumed 7 years on average for them too.

Except for 3 bessels that were in the 3600hp class, all other HTCO vessels were ‘2000hp’ and most of those were either 72, 74 or 76. Barges were classed at 30,000bbl. The old 10 and 20,000bbl barges became scrap some time ago. good portion of HTCO boats were built after 2008. There may be 10-15 left that are pre-2008. HTCO saw an increase of about 60% from 2012-2016, from 52 owned vessels to somewhere around 85, I don’t remember exactly. They had the mantra: “100 boats by 100 years”, which they didn’t make, as the 100th anniversary was in 2018. The sale amount didn’t take some other factors into account, of which I probably shouldn’t mention, save for, ahem…money owed. I work on a 2004 model vessel and it’s considered OLD by what were HTCO standards.