Breakbulk

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

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.

Commentary