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

21 Sep 2021
Ro/ro carriers are adding capacity and ordering ships as Brexit snarls supply chains and complicates European labor shortages.
16 Sep 2021
Car dealers are "screaming" for inventory, but COVID-19 shutdowns and a snarled semiconductor supply chain are throwing up obstacles to production.
13 Sep 2021
Container shippers are increasingly switching to breakbulk solutions to move their cargo, pushing MPV/HL bookings into the fall and driving up rates.
03 Sep 2021
Forward bookings are becoming the norm as some MPV/HL carriers require premiums for laycan dates, and a dearth of newbuildings in the sector implies that the current market will not slow down in the short term.
23 Aug 2021
Booming demand for machine tools and other breakbulk and high and heavy cargo boosted ro/ro carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s volumes during the second quarter.
19 Aug 2021
Shippers eager to move computer components, semiconductor chips, and auto production parts are eating up super-heavy air capacity even as demand for traditional OOG cargo improves.
09 Aug 2021
Eneti, formerly known as Scorpio Bulkers, is accelerating its transition from bulk carrier to offshore wind specialist with the acquisition of Seajacks International and its fleet of five wind turbine installation vessels (WTIVs).
06 Aug 2021
Spillover container cargo is driving the strongest breakbulk market in more than a decade, MPV/HL carriers say.
04 Aug 2021
MOL’s order for LNG-fueled car carriers shows that ro-ro newbuildings are stacking up as the sector pivots toward lower-carbon and next-generation fuels.
04 Aug 2021
A Maryland developer has committed to building a 1.2 GW offshore wind project and a multi-million-dollar monopile manufacturing facility.
02 Aug 2021
Project network EPN and digital shipping platform Shipnext are working together to reduce the chronic data overload that comes with project shipping.
21 Jul 2021
As desperate shippers search for cargo solutions and sop up breakbulk capacity, the new MPV/HL sentiment index reveals strong short-term confidence but longer-term wariness in the breakbulk sector.
19 Jul 2021
After a COVID-19 pandemic lull, violations of ISPM 15 regulations around dangerous insects are increasing in Houston and elsewhere, triggering costly remedies and intense frustration in the breakbulk and project cargo community.
14 Jul 2021
The new ships will be capable of using liquefied natural gas, liquefied biogas, and synthetic diesel, with an option for battery power, according to Wallenius Marine.
13 Jul 2021
The Port of Salem, New Jersey, has been awarded a $9 million federal infrastructure grant to help meet offshore wind logistics and manufacturing requirements.
12 Jul 2021
MPVs are booked through the summer, but improving charter rates are not yet sufficient to support newbuildings, analysts say.
09 Jul 2021
Leading US East and Gulf coast gateways for automobiles and other ro/ro cargoes posted major year-over-year percentage increases in tonnage during the first few months of 2021, wiping out the declines that US ports saw in early 2020.
01 Jul 2021
Oslo-based offshore wind specialist Cadeler is investing $651 million in new turbine installation vessels as the global offshore wind industry gains traction.
30 Jun 2021
Despite higher costs to move automobiles and high and heavy cargoes, and uncertainties related to the COVID‑19 pandemic that continue to challenge the recovery, demand is rebounding quickly.
22 Jun 2021
Rising freight rates and prices for raw industrial materials have shippers scrambling to rework budgets and adjust procurement strategies and project schedules.
18 Jun 2021
Just like the container segment, the MPV sector has been short on capacity in the last several months, but unlike on the container side, no major vessel reinvestment program has begun on the MPV side.
17 Jun 2021
The Biden administration’s embrace of offshore wind energy generation in the United States means development on an opening round of offshore wind projects on the eastern seaboard will soon be getting underway.
11 Jun 2021
The strength of the post-COVID-19 rebound in multipurpose vessel and heavy lift demand and rates has taken the industry somewhat by surprise, with demand driven by continued investment in wind energy, oil and gas recovery, and “spillover” cargoes from the container and bulk segments.
10 Jun 2021
After a long slump, strengthening MPV freight rates could encourage reinvestment in the sector for the first time in a decade.
08 Jun 2021
As the US economy reopens, more states are speeding up the permitting process for oversize/overweight flatbed loads, as cargo diversion complicates routing.
07 Jun 2021
Worried forwarders are struggling to find transport solutions for their clients in a congested global shipping market, pushing formerly containerized cargoes out of boxes and into breakbulk modes.
07 Jun 2021
Housing, energy, and manufacturing are generating intense demand for flatbed transportation at a time when a shortage of materials is disrupting supply chains.
28 May 2021
As container vessels and freight clog major ports, oversized and overweight project cargo is being rerouted coast to coast, driving up ocean shipping and inland transportation costs.
28 May 2021
Investments in hydrogen production and storage and other clean energy projects will keep project cargo carriers busy amid the push to decarbonize.
27 May 2021
Demand for commodities that feed the green energy transition is expected to spike this decade, and that will have an impact on project logistics associated with mining and transporting those materials.
17 May 2021
The former bulk carrier Eneti has contracted with a Korean ship builder for up to two wind turbine installation vessels and is in talks with US builders about a Jones Act-compliant WTIV to serve a budding US market.
13 May 2021
The ripple effects of COVID-19 and plant-closing costs trigger a quarterly loss for wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Gamesa, but its work backlog provides a bright spot.
12 May 2021
Project cargo shipper Fluor added a refinery project to its work backlog, but lost a chemicals project during a choppy first quarter as COVID-19-driven delays took a toll.
11 May 2021
Though posting first-quarter losses, there's no sign of demand relaxing as wind turbine orders expand backlogs for Vestas and GE Renewables.
07 May 2021
Breakbulk freight rates are climbing, but uncertainty about new fuels, ship designs, and the long-term strength of the market are holding back orders for new ships.
06 May 2021
As cargo demand surges, multipurpose, container, and dry bulk carriers are all competing for tonnage and pushing up vessel charter rates.