ITCO Survey reveals industry’s steady growth

ITCO Pic1ITCO, the International Tank Container Organisation, has today published its first Tank Container Fleet Survey. Based on detailed research of tank container operators, leasing companies and other owners, the Survey gives a qualified estimate that there are some 338,260 tank containers presently in operation worldwide. Of this global fleet, some 71 percent are in use by dedicated tank container operators and logistics companies, while the remaining 29 percent are operated by chemical producers and other cargo shippers, together with rail organisations, shipping lines, oil companies and military/governmental authorities. Around 39,700 tank container out of the 338,260 tank containers were produced in 2012, with a similar number predicted for 2013.

Compiled with the support of ITCO members and based on data provided by tank container owning companies, the ITCO Survey gives details of 117 operators of tank containers worldwide. While the operator fleet figure of 228,460 units is, numerically, dominated by global tank container operators such as Stolt, Bulkhaul, Hoyer, Interbulk and VOTG, the Survey also reveals the increasing number of regional operators which have been established in recent years.

A total of 27 leasing companies, with a fleet size of 150,440 units, are listed in the Survey. However, as the majority of these tanks are leased to operators or direct to cargo shippers (and are therefore already included in their fleet statistics), leasing company tanks are (with the exception of units not currently in operation) not included in the global fleet total.

Growth in the tank container industry is also reflected by the number of new containers built in 2012. The ITCO Survey gives details of 16 tank container manufacturers, who produced a record number of over 39,000 new tank containers last year. Commenting on the results of the Survey, Heike Clausen, ITCO President, notes: “This report shows that the tank container industry is exhibiting year-by-year growth and stable asset values. It is clear that tank containers are increasingly being selected by shippers of bulk liquids, powders and gases as a safe and efficient intermodal mode of transport.”

Tank containers are used for a wide range of hazardous and non-hazardous cargoes, such as chemicals, petro-chemicals, food-grade commodities, gases, and powders. They are designed for safe, intermodal transport, as they can be easily moved by truck, train, and ship. Tank containers consist of a pressure vessel fitted within a frame according to ISO-standards. The majority of tank containers are constructed of stainless steel. The design is governed by international regulations. A typical tank container is of 25,000 litre capacity with a maximum gross weight of 34 metric tons. Specifications, such as valves, loading fittings or heating systems, differ according to customer requirements.

The complete report, giving details of the size, ownership and growth of the world’s tank container fleet, can be downloaded from the ITCO website (

It is planned to periodically update the report. ITCO welcomes companies to contribute to the on-going reports by providing fleet totals, comment and recommend on all aspects including fleet estimate methodology. The first possibility to discuss the report face to face is the upcoming trade show transport logistic 2013, where visitors are invited to visit various players of the tank container industry in the Tank Container Village in Hall B4 (Stand 221/322), hosted by ITCO. In addition people who are interested in the tank container business can follow ITCO on the newly implemented LinkedIn ITCO page—international tankcontainer- organisation/.