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

06 May 2021
As cargo demand surges, multipurpose, container, and dry bulk carriers are all competing for tonnage and pushing up vessel charter rates.
05 May 2021
 A US trade court’s ruling that an expansion of tariffs to include finished steel products was invalid allows shippers to claw back import levies, but steel importers say they need a full rollback before shipments can grow.
03 May 2021
Despite lower total revenues, KBR's green-focused energy strategy boosted earnings per share in the first quarter of 2021.
27 Apr 2021
The first of a new, project-cargo and EV-friendly generation of green pure car and truck carriers is scheduled to arrive at Hoegh Autoliners by the end of 2023.
23 Apr 2021
Energy cargo is recovering a year after the pandemic-fueled crash in oil prices, just as the breakbulk carrier market heats up.
19 Apr 2021
German regulators approved an alliance between Jumbo and SAL that concentrates super-heavy-lift capacity in the hands of fewer players as the project market begins to recover from both long-term and pandemic-driven doldrums.
15 Apr 2021
Drewry’s multipurpose index bounced 15 percent and the inaugural Market Sentiment Index has revealed a wary optimism as the MPV sector benefits from container chaos.
05 Apr 2021
The MPV/HL market is on the upswing, but a lack of finance and lingering overcapacity will hold back investment in new ships.
01 Apr 2021
Toepfer's multipurpose rate index tracks recovery as container-side chaos continues to benefit the breakbulk market
01 Apr 2021
The Biden administration's push for offshore wind will jumpstart the industry, but may stymie breakbulk wind imports.
23 Mar 2021
Voyager and GSA create “line of sight” visibility tool for managing ocean transport for project cargo shippers.
22 Mar 2021
A chaotic container segment, rising bulk prices, and vigorous wind energy development on- and offshore are pushing volume toward the MPV/HL sector.
19 Mar 2021
The breakbulk sector is likely heading into a new economic supercycle focused on renewables and metals instead of oil and created by a policy-driven energy transition, rather than by demand-driven commodities growth.
04 Mar 2021
A new super-heavy-lift joint venture, if approved, will benefit from an offshore wind market poised to expand through 2050.
02 Mar 2021
Container market woes and a booming bulk market are cutting competition and boosting freight rates for the multipurpose/heavy-lift sector.
26 Feb 2021
Grimaldi and United European Car Carriers are pursuing lower emissions vessels, and Wallenius Wilhelmsen is taking three more ships out cold layup to serve a rebounding vehicle cargo market
25 Feb 2021
Turbine components, including 216-foot-long wind blades, crossed Vancouver USA’s docks last year bound for a regional high, wide, and heavy transport corridor to Canada.
23 Feb 2021
High and heavy shipper John Deere's earnings spiked 137 percent year over year in the first quarter of the company’s fiscal 2021 as strong crop prices and post-pandemic inventory restocking boosted sales.
17 Feb 2021
The IMO's low-carbon standards and shippers eager to reduce their carbon footprints are pushing vessel operators toward lower-emission designs such as WW’s wind-powered ship.
11 Feb 2021
Drewry's charter rate index is up 2.2 percent for February as COVID-19 lockdowns drive consumers to favor premium container cargoes.
09 Feb 2021
MPV/HL carriers and breakbulk ports benefited last year from record US wind cargoes as expiring tax credits, improved technology, and increasing demand accelerated development
08 Feb 2021
Wind energy cargoes boosted the Port of Longview’s breakbulk volumes, while high and heavy drove growth at the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) ports of Seattle and Tacoma.
05 Feb 2021
Regulators have now fined ocean carriers Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean (WWO), NYK RORO, and “K” Line a total of $63 million for price fixing on vehicle shipping services on routes to Australia.
04 Feb 2021
As congestion and rate pressure continue to squeeze the container market, some breakbulk cargo is shifting out of boxes back to ro/ro.
03 Feb 2021
Toepfer Transport's MPV/HL rate forecast climbs to $7,146 as optimism grows in the breakbulk market amid a new US presidential administration seen as favorable to renewables.
02 Feb 2021
A microprocessor chip shortage and new COVID-19 spread could slow recovery by hampering vehicle production.
01 Feb 2021
New contracts firm up heavy transport and heavy lift firm Fagioli’s 2021 outlook despite the pandemic-driven industry-wide downturn of 2020.
21 Jan 2021
In a further sign of a tumultuous market, UHL's newest "Eco-Lifter" will deliver containers to Europe on its maiden voyage.
20 Jan 2021
A state-wide commitment to renewables is behind a massive increase in project cargo tonnage at the Northern California port of Stockton.
15 Jan 2021
High box rates and congestion woes are driving container-side shippers to the breakbulk sector for relief.
14 Jan 2021
With the addition of dedicated installation capacity, SAL will target European offshore development, maintenance, and decommissioning.
11 Jan 2021
Rising short-term charter rates and recovering cargo volumes are leading ro-ro carriers to reactivate ships in cold lay-up since early 2020.
07 Jan 2021
A congested container shipping market is pushing cargo toward breakbulk shipping as Toepfer Transport's MPV/HL rate forecast climbs to $7,005, signaling recovery from 2020's COVID-19 slump.
30 Dec 2020
Former SAL executive Justin Archard has departed the super-heavy-lift carrier and will be a founding partner with Hamburg-based One World Shipbrokers.
28 Dec 2020
Breakbulk and project logistics providers are adapting to a market in which the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a shift away from traditional oil and gas projects and toward more carbon-neutral energy sources and related industries.
21 Dec 2020
US-based project forwarders say they’re struggling to secure capacity as rebound demand and multipurpose and heavy-lift capacity is tapped by container lines in reaction to even stronger container demand.