What precisely is the bulk shipping business? The industry is an enormous, complicated system. Moving bulk involves transporting dry bulk merchandise like steel products, alumina, wheat, iron, ore, barley, coal, and nickel ores, as well as wet bulk, such as petroleum goods, LNG, chemicals, and oils. Of course, in this increasingly globalized world, this often means that shipments go from one side of the earth to another. (Net import countries include China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and India, while net export countries include The United States, Canada, Australia, Chile, and Brazil.)
With such massive amounts of movement between continents, ships are a requirement for getting these goods across oceans and seas. As part of this huge system of movement, there are thousands of ship owners and more than 7,000 bulk carriers. While there are thousands of ships, there is a concentration of ship owners in Greece, China, India, the United Kingdom, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, and the United States. While some ship owners are single people with one ship, there are also huge international companies that control hundreds of vessels. Because of the international flavor of this business, there has had to be a commonly accepted language and currency. As it turns out, the worldwide language used by people in shipping is English, and about 95 percent of business dealings are completed using the U.S. dollar.
The volume and magnitude of the business coupled with the enormous numbers of types and kinds of bulk, translates to immense opportunities. As such, it’s not hard to believe that there are any number of niches in the industry that have not yet been saturated. It’s also not hard to believe that chartering executives and shipbrokers are the people behind the big decisions, as well as the industry’s vast amounts of money.