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 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.
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.