Breakbulk

Breakbulk

Breakbulk and its glamorous subset, project cargo, remain a dynamic shipping segment, and the multipurpose and heavylift (MPV/HL) carriers that serve it are just beginning to recover from chronic overcapacity and a decade of doldrums.

Breakbulk cargo has been defined as ‘whatever is left over’ after the bulk and container ships are full. While the shift of commodities such as cotton and coffee from breakbulk into containers has largely run its course, other breakbulk and project cargos continue to move on MPV/HL vessels. Not every shipment of breakbulk cargo involves a complex mega-project or thousands of freight tons that require full charters and heavy-lift capacity. Many of these movements are very complex, and require additional planning, expertise and equipment. Project cargo shippers often work closely with carriers’ engineering teams to create transport plans.Simple breakbulk cargoes can often shift shipping modes fairly seamlessly. Steel, for example, flows from breakbulk to bulk carriers to, for some forms of steel, roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) and container transport. The preferred mode will depend on volumes, prices, schedules and demand. Container and ro-ro services offers shippers fixed schedules, predictable routes and prices, and more commoditized handling, simplifying the equation – but only when it makes sense for the cargo.

News & Analysis

05 Dec 2022
The Ocean Terminal project is part of a larger strategy by the GPA to expand the footprint in Savannah to handle bigger vessels and more containers.
28 Nov 2022
US-based MPV operator Intermarine is expanding into Asia and Europe via a partnership with Thailand’s WeShip.
22 Nov 2022
Drought is keeping the Mississippi River at historically low water levels, tying up barge capacity and extending the southbound grain season.
21 Nov 2022
The Port of Mobile’s breakbulk dockworkers will go ahead with a strike against stevedoring firm CSA Equipment after a month-long cooling period failed to produce a new contract.
15 Nov 2022
As evidenced over the past chaotic 24 months, dry cargo demand and the supply of reefer equipment are more intimately linked than it might first appear.
14 Nov 2022
Engineered transport providers are gearing up for heavy demand as an energy buildout in both renewable and oil and gas sectors gains strength.
14 Nov 2022
Two years of pandemic-related oil and gas project delays and cutbacks in global supply due to the Russia-Ukraine war are driving demand for project logistics services in the short and long term.
11 Nov 2022
Bottlenecks and a lack of needed infrastructure may put the “aspirational” global offshore wind installation schedule out of reach, an analyst says.
10 Nov 2022
Confident of project demand ahead, the multipurpose vessel sector sees November’s softening rates as a move toward stability, analysts say.
31 Oct 2022
Sanctions against Russia have sharply reduced available heavy-lift air tonnage even as energy sector demand escalates.
28 Oct 2022
The new ships ordered by the Grimaldi Group, designed for carrying electric vehicles, will burn 50 percent less fuel than earlier car carriers.
25 Oct 2022
A funding round into Shippeo shows that demand for visibility and fragmentation of the market continue to grow despite a slowing venture capital environment.
20 Oct 2022
Union workers at Mobile’s breakbulk and general cargo docks are the only ones working for a maritime employer without a ratified contract during the ILA’s current 2018-2024 master contract term.
18 Oct 2022
The ILA’s local union at Mobile’s general cargo and breakbulk docks may walk off the job this week if a deal can’t be reached with breakbulk stevedore CSA Equipment.
17 Oct 2022
Breakbulk tonnage has risen at Port Houston’s City Docks facility after the global oil price shock linked to the Russia–Ukraine war prompted an increase in active oil rigs in Texas.
14 Oct 2022
Multipurpose and heavy-lift carrier AAL is aiming to increase tonnage despite market volatility as it pursues “long-term sustainable expansion.”
11 Oct 2022
Despite softening daily charter rates, the multipurpose and heavy-lift (MPV/HL) sector remains optimistic thanks to a growing renewable energy market and near-static fleet capacity.
05 Oct 2022
Recovering automobile exports and demand for high and heavy cargo are driving a ro/ro resurgence and a spate of new ship orders.
03 Oct 2022
US auto imports slid 8 percent during the first seven months of 2022, reflecting supply chain snarls, even as high and heavy imports gained steam.
12 Sep 2022
MPV/HL ships could be harder to find in coming years as carriers have difficulty finding funding for new ship orders, despite strong demand and higher rates than they have been able to command for years.
09 Sep 2022
A handful of reefer carriers, having received an unexpected shot in the arm during the pandemic, are adding vessel capacity despite the long-term decline of this niche fleet.
07 Sep 2022
The MPV sector’s long-term outlook remains strong, but shippers are holding off booking in the hope that rates will continue to slide, analysts say.
02 Sep 2022
The specialized reefer fleet has been shrinking for years as perishables shippers have migrated away from breakbulk shipping to refrigerated containers carried on global liner services, but “the mode keeps rescuing itself,” says one observer.
01 Sep 2022
Container carriers are adding incremental capacity to their regional and feeder liner services with MPV and other non-container ships, maritime analyst Alphaliner says.
29 Aug 2022
While spillover cargo flows back to the container market, a strong breakbulk market is keeping the MPV sector afloat.
24 Aug 2022
Developers have installed a total of 139 gigawatts of onshore wind energy production across the US, with another 23 GW under construction or in advanced development as of the second quarter of 2022.
22 Aug 2022
The global super-heavy carrier fleet is at 91 percent utilization as governments accelerate energy investments amid the rush to cut ties with Russia.
19 Aug 2022
Pandemic congestion may be easing as container rates fall, but breakbulk spillover cargo shows no sign of slowing at the Port of New Orleans.
16 Aug 2022
Carrier53, a joint venture of a breakbulk vessel operator and container manufacturer, said it will offer trans-Pacific sailings from China to the US West Coast with a special emphasis on domestic intermodal containers.
09 Aug 2022
Easing container congestion and the summer “doldrums” have sent MPV rates drifting downward, but carriers expect energy-related demand and tight capacity to keep the sector healthy in the long term.
05 Aug 2022
Maersk is expanding its footprint in the heavy-lift sector with the acquisition of specialist logistics provider Martin Bencher that will be central to its new Maersk Project Logistics product.
03 Aug 2022
Congestion and unreliable service from liner carriers is driving some cold chain shippers back to the conventional reefer fleet
27 Jul 2022
The transport of crucial project cargo bound for power generation facilities and renewable energy projects in the US could be stymied by a possible rail strike.
25 Jul 2022
Legislation now under consideration by a Senate committee could put the kibosh on the Biden administration’s ambitious plans to install 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030.
22 Jul 2022
SAL joins competitors AAL and UHL with firm orders for multipurpose newbuild vessels, even as charter rates soften a bit from their current high levels.
11 Jul 2022
Uncertainty and congestion are undermining market confidence, but MPV rates are expected to stay well above pre-pandemic levels, according to breakbulk analysts.