Economy & Market
Seaborne cementitious trade increases globally Asia-Pacific absorbs over 50 of total trade
According to the latest update of the World Cement, Clinker & Slag Sea-Based Trade Report from CW Research, more than 174 million tonnes (MT) of cementitious materials were traded by sea-going vessels in 2016. The trade volumes grew 1.3 per cent compared to the 171.9 MT of cementitious materials traded by sea in 2015.
CW Research's latest research shows that seaborne cementitious trade has benefited from low shipping rates. Moreover, the increase in imports in some key markets where cement production has leveled out (such as the US), has also motivated higher seaborne cementitious trade volumes in 2016, compared to 2015.
Raluca Cercel, CW Research's Lead Analyst for the report, stresses that, in the seaborne global trade context, "About 2 to 3 per cent of total cement consumption is traded internationally, and two-thirds of the total trade is performed by sea-going vessels".
In the worldwide seaborne cementitious trade, gray cement continues to be the most traded cementitious commodity by sea. In 2016, more than half of the sea-based cementitious trade, comprising gray cement, white cement, slag, clinker, and fly ash, was made up of gray cement. Clinker (including both white and gray) accounted for 33 per cent of total seaborne cementitious trade in 2016, followed by ground blast furnace slag, with a 12 per cent share of the trade.
Far less traded, white cement and fly ash made for 3 per cent and for less than 2 per cent, respectively, of total seaborne trade of cementitious materials.
According to CW Research, on the main trade routes and regions, the Asia Pacific region absorbs 51 per cent of the total seaborne trade of cementitious materials. Due to proximity and pricing considerations, the largest volumes of cementitious materials were traded within this region, with almost 90 MT shipped in 2016.
Global companies LafargeHolcim, HC Trading and Cemex together control about 30 per cent of the cement trading market. The two largest Asian cement traders (Taiheyo and Tong Yang Cement) together control around 10 per cent of the market.
Worldwide there are more than 900 cement terminals, more than 100 waterside grinding plants (slag and clinker) and almost 140 waterside integrated cement plants. Most of the cement terminals are located in Far East Asia, followed by the Med Basin and the Black Sea. In terms of waterside integrated plants (used as export facilities), the Far East has a total of 51 plants, while 46 integrated waterside plants are located in the Med Basin and Black Sea region.
The presence of these facilities in the Asia Pacific region favors the trade of cementitious materials, therefore explaining the large volumes that were shipped in the area.
Utilisation of cement carriers has currently reached almost 100 per cent - and is a forecasted to grow in the coming years (mostly concentrated in Far East Asia, India, Northern and the Baltic Sea). In terms of the specialised cement carrier market, there are currently more than 300 cement carriers used for seaborne distribution of cementitious materials. An additional 200 cement carriers under the 1,000 dwt allow for environmental friendly, speedy and weather independent cement distribution.
Driven in particular by production shortages and supply chain optimization efforts, CW forecasts that the total traded volume of cementitious materials will exceed 200 MT, increasing at a CAGR of more than 3 per cent between 2016 and 2021.
"Cement trading ensures that surplus and shortages of cementitious materials are ironed out across markets. More than that, maintaining utilisation rates weighs heavily in the future of traded cement volumes. These are only two of the factors that balance the scale in favour of increased sea-trade volumes in the next five years. Hindering factors, such as potential fuel related restrictions on the shipping industry, as well as new capacity additions in traditional import markets, will counterbalance positive drivers,: emphasises Raluca Cercel, CW Research's Lead Analyst for the report.
In conclusion, seaborne cementitious trade volumes increased globally between 2015 and 2016. That was largely due to consumption in the Asia Pacific region, which absorbed more than half of the total seaborne trade of cementitious materials. Even though fuel usage regulations in maritime shipping and local autonomy in cement production may condition the promising numbers, the outlook for seaborne cementitious trade volumes remains optimistic.