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

14 Sep 2020
In a three-tiered market, F-types hold their own, high-end MPV/HL ships reap the rewards of DP systems and super-heavy cranes, while lower-geared, less specialized ships suffer.
11 Sep 2020
Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the volatile price of oil, project owners have cut their capex spending plans by $154 billion, according to research firm Independent Project Analysis.
10 Sep 2020
With the COVID-19 pandemic and concurrent crash in oil prices translating to fewer capital projects in the energy sector, some forwarders are cutting project specialists, while others increasingly see this expertise as a rare — and valuable — asset.
07 Sep 2020
The Port of Brownsville is "headed for a record year" in wind energy cargo, according to port officials, a development that is helping to offset the loss of volume related to three LNG export projects currently on hold owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
04 Sep 2020
Port Freeport, Texas, in August opened 20 newly paved acres for handling growing roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) cargo from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
04 Sep 2020
Wind energy cargoes imported through the Port of Lake Charles are driving a significant increase in overall breakbulk tonnage at the Louisiana port during the first seven months of 2020.
03 Sep 2020
The neighboring ports of Beaumont and Port Arthur in eastern Texas only suffered minor damage from the category 4 Hurricane Laura, but both have seen cargo volume decline in the first half of 2020 as the COVID-19 recession put pressure on oil pricing, prompting a pullback in oil and gas capital projects.
03 Sep 2020
Dominik Stehle, former CCO of now-bankrupt Zeamarine, joins UHL as the carrier solidifies its fleet and network.
31 Aug 2020
Projected growth in the offshore wind market inspired UHL to buy nine F900 Eco-lifter multipurpose/heavy lift ships from Zeamarine in late 2019 and early 2020.
25 Aug 2020
Breakbulk shipper John Deere is signaling mild optimism for the balance of the year even as construction and agriculture machinery sales falter due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
24 Aug 2020
Despite a COVID-19-driven construction slowdown and a complex permitting regime, the second wave of breakbulk cargo will soon begin delivery to the $40 billion LNG Canada project.
21 Aug 2020
Stable high-and-heavy cargo volumes reduced loss margins for Wallenius Wilhelmsen as the carrier slow steams and puts 15 ships in cold layup to cut costs.
19 Aug 2020
Half of the 18,310 MW of wind projects in advanced development in the US will be built in federal waters off the East Coast, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
13 Aug 2020
Billions of dollars in order and service backlogs and an unfolding global energy transition toward renewables could mean blue skies ahead for wind energy, despite the painful fallout from COVID-19.
12 Aug 2020
While the oil and gas sector has pulled back dramatically from early 2020 capital spending plans, the low bunker fuel prices that have also come with global oil demand destruction have helped to control costs.
07 Aug 2020
KBR writes down $1.2 billion of energy project backlog and will focus on government and technology services.
06 Aug 2020
Falling oil prices and rising demand for wind turbines are driving the mix of breakbulk and project cargo in Houston and throughout the US Gulf.
05 Aug 2020
Bulk carrier Scorpio and specialized oil and gas heavy load carrier OHT shift toward the offshore wind industry as the sector is poised to expand by 270 percent.
31 Jul 2020
The heavy equipment manufacturer saw second-quarter sales tumble 42 percent in North America as the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis crushed end-user demand.
24 Jul 2020
Demand destruction, low oil prices, and a looming energy transition signal structural changes for the oil and gas market.
21 Jul 2020
Oil field services company Halliburton will focus on international clients rather than North American onshore oil and gas, signaling a further slowdown in US breakbulk steel imports.
17 Jul 2020
The low-speed collision in the Welland Canal, which links Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, damaged both vessels, but did not cause any injuries or pollution.
16 Jul 2020
As a project cargo pipeline "hole" looms thanks to retrenchment in the oil and gas sector, slow scrapping and newbuilding orders are not enough to cure sector over-tonnage.
15 Jul 2020
Capital spending cutbacks in the oil and gas sector foreshadow a painful lack of project cargo logistics providers, but the industry could also benefit from the trillions of dollars expected in stimulus spending during the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
13 Jul 2020
US land-based heavy transport has largely been able to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to its designation as an essential service, but like other parts of the project supply chain, the sector could see waning demand as the oil and gas industry pulls back on capital expenditures.
13 Jul 2020
Multi-billion-dollar impairments recently announced by oil majors like Shell and BP provide a glimpse of the potentially seismic changes taking place in the global energy market, a critical source of project cargo.
02 Jul 2020
BBC Chartering CEO Ulrich Ulrichs said in a JOC Uncharted interview that the MPV/HL fleet should brace for higher operating costs and further consolidation, similarly to the global container fleet.
01 Jul 2020
Following a pandemic-driven slide, the Toepfer Multipurpose Index is expected to stabilize in July.
26 Jun 2020
In a pandemic-distorted logistics environment, due diligence has never been more important, project logistics service providers tell JOC.com.
26 Jun 2020
Despite a difficult business environment, new MPV/HL carrier KOGA Shipping is growing its client base as it enters the US Gulf-Caribbean market, according to CEO Fernando Maruri.
25 Jun 2020
In the face of COVID-19, logistics contracting should carefully define the events that trigger the application of force majeure remedies.
24 Jun 2020
Oil price volatility and the related pullback on capital investment is affecting cargo volumes, primarily on the onshore oil and gas side; offshore effects will take longer to flow through the project supply chain.
18 Jun 2020
The automotive restart has encountered headwinds, as uneven timings of plant re-openings have created trade imbalances and factories have reduced their production capacities due to a lack of access to parts, while consumer demand remains a key unknown.
16 Jun 2020
Hit hard by COVID-19, a "patchwork" of high and heavy cargoes keeps the market afloat after a sharp drop in imports across the US’ top ro-ro ports.
04 Jun 2020
MPV/HL carrier AAL’s Asia–Europe service, which has filled a vacuum created by the demise of Zeamarine, is seeing relatively strong demand despite a pandemic-hampered market.
03 Jun 2020
Russia's spring thaw allows Combi Lift and SAL to begin delivery of project cargo for a massive Siberian gas project.