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

02 Dec 2020
Escalating box rates and tight capacity in the container carrier market are pushing service providers to bring in ships from the multi-purpose sector.
23 Nov 2020
The European Commission's Green Deal will add 288 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity to Europe's grid by 2050, along with 40 GW in tidal and floating solar energy generation.
16 Nov 2020
Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, shrinking investment in capital projects, and a slow-but-game-changing global shift towards a lower-carbon future, the industry is again recalibrating its project logistics relationships.
16 Nov 2020
In the short term, EPCs see a painful gap growing in the oil and gas “project pipeline” because capital projects worth billions of dollars were delayed, with a few canceled or downsized.
16 Nov 2020
Wallenius Wilhelmsen turns in a positive third quarter as pent-up demand boosts auto sales while high and heavy cargo wavers.
10 Nov 2020
Multi-purpose carrier G2 Ocean's African and Indian semi-liner breakbulk services, established just as COVID-19 exploded, are flourishing despite lockdowns.
05 Nov 2020
The contract market is improving for F-type 12,500-dwt multipurpose ships, while spot rates remain volatile, according to Toepfer Transport.
27 Oct 2020
UHL, one of very few carriers currently adding newbuildings to the multipurpose fleet, is scheduled to receive eight new F900 ships through December 2021, with the first ship scheduled for delivery in December.
27 Oct 2020
The project industry is cutting logistics staff in the face of a looming “project pipeline” shortfall, concentrating specialized know-how into fewer hands.
19 Oct 2020
An ability to handle out-of-gauge cargo and a unique inventory management system distinguish supply chain logistics platform e2log from the competition.
16 Oct 2020
Gulf Stream Marine adds Alabo Street Wharf to its string of US Gulf breakbulk terminals and positions itself to handle out-of-gauge cargo with a focus on transshipment to the Midwest.
13 Oct 2020
China Navigation Company creates Swire Projects to take advantage of an improving outlook for the project market and brings aboard three ex-Zeamarine executives.
13 Oct 2020
The former head of SAL Heavy Lift’s marine projects will lead the chartering team at global forwarder DSV, which is handling global logistics for wind turbine manufacturer Vestas.
09 Oct 2020
Svend Andersen comes out of retirement to take a stake in the US-based carrier Intermarine and explore new trade possibilities in the Americas.
08 Oct 2020
Less stringent lockdowns, for now, during COVID-19’s second wave mean stronger global trade, as renewables continue to be a bright spot for the multipurpose/heavy-lift (MPV/HL) sector.
07 Oct 2020
As Toepfer’s Multipurpose Index shows signs of modest recovery, SAL’s purchase of Intermarine has the potential to leverage shipping synergies.
05 Oct 2020
SAL and ex-BBC Chartering CEO Svend Andersen take ownership stakes in Intermarine as Andersen returns to the MPV/HL market.
02 Oct 2020
The car trade will soon be back to pre-COVID levels, according to Grimaldi’s CEO, as the company incorporates 17 green, high-tech newbuildings into its ranks and the European vehicle market adapts to green tech and decarbonization.
02 Oct 2020
As East Coast states commit to generating 29,000 MW of offshore electricity by 2035, ports and terminals scramble to position themselves for the coming project cargo boom.
28 Sep 2020
The ports of Baltimore, Maryland, and Brunswick, Georgia, have reported a sharp uptick in roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) cargo since June as consumer demand returns and dealers restock vehicle inventories.
25 Sep 2020
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down automobile manufacturing and consumer demand, vehicle volumes in and out of European ports were well below prior year levels.
24 Sep 2020
Risk of excess capacity in the global roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) fleet remains high even as sales improve, as car and high and heavy volumes are not expected to return to 2019 levels until 2023.
24 Sep 2020
Although the specific port rotation of the semi-liner service will depend on the cargo mix, Japan will now be a regular call for MPV/HL carrier Chipolbrok thanks to a new business relationship with third-party logistics provider and agent Crane Worldwide.
22 Sep 2020
As COVID-19 hamstrings the capital projects outlook, engineering, procurement, construction, and maintenance company (EPC) Fluor is pivoting to leveraging its supply chain buying power, know-how, and network for external clients.
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.