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.

News & Analysis

18 Apr 2019
Pending antitrust approval, Zeaborn Group will take full ownership of the Zeamarine joint venture, consisting of Zeaborn Chartering, Rickmers Line, and Intermarine, after buying out New Mountain Capital’s interest.
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.
A heavy lift cargo ship transports an oil rig.
18 Oct 2018
Many questions remain concerning the low-sulfur rule that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020: how best to comply, how to manage fuel supply after IMO 2020, how to estimate changes in fuel costs, and how to plan for enforcement.
Breakbulk Americas.
11 Oct 2018
The breakbulk/project market, buoyed by adequate global GDP growth, is finally reviving after a recession-triggered downturn magnified by the 2015 crude oil crash. But challenges loom, including shifting customer demand preferences and the low-sulfur mandate.
Aibus 220 section at the Port of Mobile, Alabama.
10 Oct 2018
Since 2015, the production rate at Airbus' Mobile facility has increased to four Airbus 320s per month, so four sets of fuselages and wings are needed monthly, and "a weekly lo-lo [lift-on, lift-off] transport for these [would be] too expensive," the project's leader said.
A SeaWing by AirSeas.
10 Oct 2018
The SeaWing will harness wind power to blow the vessel across the ocean, reducing fuel costs. The roll-on, roll-off ship will be used in an already existing service transporting airplane sections from Saint Nazaire, France, to Airbus' manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama.
Combi Lift for Gazprom.
28 Sep 2018
Project cargo totaling 176,000 freight tons bound for the Gazprom Amur project in Russia will be shipped in five phases from 2018 through 2022.
A heavy-lift ship.
25 Sep 2018
Toepfer's index is one of few measurements that create a window into the primarily privately held and still-fragmented, despite recent moves toward consolidation, multipurpose/heavy-lift fleet.
Port of New Orleans.
21 Sep 2018
If you sense that matching a US Gulf Coast port channel’s depth to the depth of the new, expanded Panama Canal would generate more business opportunities, you’re correct.
A heavy-lift ship.
19 Sep 2018
Zeaborn, which was established in 2013, became a major player in the multipurpose shipping sector through the acquisitions of Rickmers-Linie.
BBC Chartering
13 Sep 2018
A stronger US economy and pent up demand in emerging markets, among other factors, bodes well for the multipurpose sector moving forward.
A steel mill.
07 Sep 2018
To say that the Trump administration’s steel tariffs and quotas have upset the global steel market would be an understatement, as nations who have hit their quotas are scrambling for new markets, and US importers are searching for new sources of affordably priced steel.
Port of Everett.
06 Sep 2018
With its close proximity to Boeing, the port has geared up to streamline the supply chain for its biggest customer. And there's a substantive reason why it has done this.
AAL unloads condensing unit in China for Australia
05 Sep 2018
Mining interests are once again upgrading and investing in activities that require inbound project cargo after years of merely status-quo maintenance.
Port of Portland, Oregon, United States.
31 Aug 2018
Specialized Freight Solutions of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, has been commissioned by the new High, Wide and Heavy Corridor Coalition to conduct a feasibility route study for moving up to 1,000-ton mega-loads from Pacific Northwest ports east into Idaho and Montana and up into Western Canada.