Multipurpose carriers face increased competition from container ships and bulk carriers, both of which are beset with overcapacity and low rates. Meanwhile, breakbulk/project demand is suffering from the decline in commodity prices caused by China’s reduced appetite for commodities and by a global oversupply of oil and gas.

Though heavy-lift and other shipments continue for projects already under way, other large mining and petrochemical projects have been postponed until the market’s direction becomes more clear. Volatile trade conditions also are reflected in declining shipments of steel and other industrial commodities. Other headwinds include increased near-sourcing for oversized shipments such as windmills for electric generation.

The shift of commodities such as cotton and coffee from breakbulk to containers has largely run its course. But other breakbulk and project cargos continues to move on multipurpose vessels, and many of the movements are becoming more complex, and require additional planning, expertise and equipment. Breakbulk/project cargo remains a dynamic market.


Feb 21, 2019 10:00AM EST
Mar 14, 2019 2:00PM EDT

News & Analysis

13 Feb 2019
The multipurpose/heavy lift market continues to struggle with overcapacity, weak demand, and increased competition for breakbulk and project cargo from the bulk, ro-ro, and container sectors.
11 Feb 2019
ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum will spend $10 billion adding liquefaction and export capacity to an existing LNG import facility in Sabine Pass, Texas.
31 Jan 2019
The fuel efficiency of Zeamarine's newbuildings will be advantageous, and it will also be looking at scrubber technology and durability, Zeamarine president and CEO Andre Grikitis said.
AAL Kembla.
31 Jan 2019
Among shipowners’ concerns: will there be enough low-sulfur fuel on Jan. 1, 2020? And will the low-sulfur quality be consistent?
A nacelle being transported.
31 Jan 2019
US ports specializing in the handling of wind components and the heavy-haul truck lines are gearing up for an increase in wind projects.
A wind farm in the United States.
30 Jan 2019
Several US ports, many in the Gulf, are expecting a surge in wind cargo during the next 24 months.
A petrochemical plant.
30 Jan 2019
The US petrochemical buildout is being driven by the availability of cheap ethane.
BigLift Happy Star.
24 Jan 2019
Before selling individual assets, Hansa Heavy Lift’s owner had tried to sell the company.
BBC Chartering MPV/HL.
23 Jan 2019
Toepfer’s index consists of an average of six-month to 12-month time charter rates per day for 12,500 deadweight-ton multipurpose and heavy-lift F-type vessels.
Project logistics.
21 Jan 2019
At 2019’s outset, adequate global growth and demand bode well for project logistics, but potential pitfalls also exist.
Industrial Terminals Houston.
18 Jan 2019
Oaktree, primary shareholder of now-insolvent Hansa Heavy Lift, in January became a key partner with Kansas-based transportation provider Watco Companies.
A heavy-lift ship.
17 Jan 2019
The MPV/HL sector has been in the doldrums for four or five years.
A wind power blade being transported by Novoroslesexport.
15 Jan 2019
The blades were loaded onto telescopic trailers and transported to the Republic of Adygea at night.
AAL Bangkok.
15 Jan 2019
Recently, consolidation in the sector has accelerated, with acquisitions, mergers, alliances, and other cooperation among the stakeholders becoming routine.
Hansa Heavy Lift Kobe.
03 Jan 2019
Founded in 2011, HHL was the successor to Beluga Shipping but struggled to gain a foothold in the heavy-lift market as the global shipping crisis worsened in the mid-decade.
A wind power blade being transported in the United States.
02 Jan 2019
New factors will increase pressure on the US wind power logistics market, which already experiences late-year bottlenecks.
28 Dec 2018
India's breakbulk and project cargo trade growth has become a “sweetener” for container carriers struggling to fill up their large vessels with niche freight in the wake of continued lackluster demand in other global markets.
Technology and international shipping.
19 Dec 2018
TecPier plans to invest in maritime digitization opportunities in energy efficiency, online marketplaces, and process optimization.
A heavy-lift ship.
18 Dec 2018
The concerns have weighed on oil prices, and the health of the global energy market strongly affects the movement of project cargo.
A heavy lift ship.
10 Dec 2018
Both clauses are designed to be "simple and practical" and ease the global fleet's Jan. 1, 2020 transition to a low-sulfur fuel era, BIMCO said.
Hansa Heavy Lift HHL Kobe.
10 Dec 2018
Founded in 2011, Hansa Heavy Lift was the successor to Bremen-based Beluga Shipping.
A column being lifted on to a barge.
06 Dec 2018
An initial cargo of 19 units weighed more than 850 metric tons (937 tons) combined and included separators, heaters, and columns designed for hydrocarbon processing.
Breakbulk international logistics.
26 Nov 2018
Everything transported to an Antarctica research station by Trans Global Projects required extensive care and, due to the threat of intrusion by non-native plants and animals, extensive biosecurity and decontamination processes.
Reactor lift at Porto Marghera, Italy.
21 Nov 2018
Italy’s Porto Marghera has a unique capability on the peninsula, as two 1,692-ton heavy lifts of reactors bound for a refinery in Nigeria recently demonstrated.
A truck transport a wind generator blade.
20 Nov 2018
In the next two decades, project construction and transport sectors can expect electricity generation to grow in importance, as emerging nations, particularly those in Asia, shift toward light industry, service economies, and digitization.
Port Houston
15 Nov 2018
Imports are important to Gulf ports’ growth because ocean carriers in the major east-west trades deploy capacity based on imports, which command freight rates about four times higher than exports.
Heavy lift ship.
14 Nov 2018
Many project shippers have reported a lack of clarity regarding contracts extending into or beyond 2020; these clauses will help set the stage for the IMO 2020 transition.
Port Panama City.
13 Nov 2018
The port's primary facilities at the west terminal sustained relatively minor damage; it was a "mixed bag," the port's executive director said, including lost doors, canopies, and skylights, and some damage to the port's container terminal.
Brunswick Port, Georgia, United States.
05 Nov 2018
Brunswick is the second-busiest roll-on, roll-off port in the United States by tonnage, and although tariffs have affected trade, the upward trajectory remains intact regarding 2019.
A container ship at sea.
02 Nov 2018
Although the industry is unlikely to see another all-encompassing fiat like IMO 2020, the International Maritime Organization's (IMO’s) ambition is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping to 50 percent of 2008 levels by the year 2050, and to someday eliminate the fleet's GHG emissions entirely.
Dominik Stehle, Zeamarine.
01 Nov 2018
Effective in February, Stehle will focus on business development, key accounts, and managing large projects, as well as supporting organizational restructuring efforts that began earlier in 2018.
Kai Von Taube, Zeamarine.
29 Oct 2018
Von Taube will assume the role of director, Zeamarine, during the fourth quarter of 2018, taking over responsibilities from Irich Ulrichs, including Zeamarine's tramp and liner services.
Breakbulk Americas Conference 2018 in Houston.
26 Oct 2018
"The amount [of risk] is up,” said Pat Roche, vice president, project and energy services, Expeditors, a freight forwarding company. “EPC [engineering, procurement, and construction] contracts are evolving.” Elements that have become more open-ended include execution of performance bonds, cargo lien waivers, and indemnification clauses, he said.
A heavy-lift ship.
22 Oct 2018
Factors pushing up the rate included a rising oil price, slightly shrinking capacity in the MPV/HL sector (especially toward the high-end sector), and uncertainty across the global fleet regarding IMO 2020.
Houston skyline from the Port of Houston.
22 Oct 2018
The breakbulk and project cargo transport and logistics community raised approximately $60,000 earlier this month in Houston for the Maritime Emergency Workers Medical Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping maritime families with their finances during medical crises.
A heavy-lift ship.
19 Oct 2018
The looming IMO regulation, which reduces maximum sulfur emissions from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent across most of the world's shipping lanes, “is arguably one of the industry’s most defining moments since the shift away from coal,” according to US energy giant ExxonMobil.