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

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.
02 Jun 2020
Blockchain-based electronic bills of lading can simplify shipping hurdles created when the effects of COVID-19 hamper travel and restrict normal processes.
28 May 2020
The first offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes has been approved, but with an unexpected condition attached that project developers say severely dilutes the economic benefits.
21 May 2020
The massive demand destruction in the oil sector has triggered billions of dollars in capex cuts, shrinking the project cargo pipeline.
15 May 2020
BBC Chartering's CEO sees a rough course ahead amid COVID-19, but a stronger MPV/HL segment in the long run.
06 May 2020
UHT will represent a fleet of five semi-submersible heavy transport vessels under a partnership agreement with China-based owner Guangzhou Salvage and commercial agent GS-Pango.
05 May 2020
The Taiwanese government plans to develop 5.5 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2025, and add another 10 GW between 2026 and 2035.
01 May 2020
Caterpillar says production and demand for high-and-heavy equipment were flattened by the COVID-19 shutdown during the first quarter of 2020.
30 Apr 2020
Ro-ro and multipurpose carriers are exploring wind-assisted propulsion systems to cut emissions and boost efficiency.
27 Apr 2020
Intermarine will serve as exclusive commercial agent in North America for United Heavy Lift, though UHL ships are not expected to operate in Intermarine's liner services.
27 Apr 2020
Dutch carrier Spliethoff expands its multipurpose/heavy-lift fleet and opens an office in Singapore.
20 Apr 2020
Supply chain bottlenecks could delay US wind farm development and endanger tax credit subsidies.
14 Apr 2020
Toepfer's Multipurpose Index falls as COVID-19 effects hamper trade and plummeting oil prices shrink capital investments.
10 Apr 2020
Breakbulk steel imports are expected to decline further this year after falling in 2019, as sinking demand for vehicles and other steel-based products adds to tariff woes.
09 Apr 2020
Already under severe pressure as coronavirus lockdowns sap global demand, oil prices fell to a 20-year low last week amid what may be the single most ill-timed game of production chicken in history.
08 Apr 2020
A global economy hammered by pandemic control measures and an oil price war is bad news for the MPV/HL sector, maritime consultancy Drewry reports.
01 Apr 2020
Cosco delivered a 3,700-mt bridge to Sweden even as the oil price crash hamstrings the spot market for the heavy transport sector.
30 Mar 2020
Forwarders are scrambling to preserve project schedules as transport capacity, equipment availability, and personnel are affected by efforts to control the spread of coronavirus.
30 Mar 2020
Torbjørn Wist will be leaving SAS to join the ro-ro carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen group, now grappling with the effects of COVID-19 as automotive production and demand wither globally.