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Breakbulk February 2020

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Februar y 2020 | The Journal of Commerce 15 Vessel Chartering Breakbulk & Project Cargo charterers, such as sub-vendors. Project forwarding is all about networking, said Puetz, who is based in Hamburg. "You find out what the ship is up to and what the carrier needs. 'Who else is onboard [the ship]? What are the possible com- binations of cargoes and port pairs? Is it A to B, C to D? What do they need?' You can't rely on published position lists and schedules," he said. "It's all about positive relation- ships, and it goes both ways," Puetz added. "There's a learning curve. You can't afford a bad reputation. You need to have the instinct for chartering, and you need to develop contacts around the globe. You track who's in the market." It takes three or four years to build a portfolio and the necessary connections. Strategy is important, he said. "You talk tactics. Where are the flows of cargo? Where are the big projects?" Strom said one of his clients recently delayed fixing a charter and, as a result, lost out on a favorable rate for his cargo. "I could wait it out longer to find a solution and get lucky, let other cargoes develop for the carriers.… It takes an iron gut, but it's manageable, playing that game in the market. If you panic and book to get [the cargo] off your desk, you don't do your client the best favor. You accomplished the task, but did you get the best solution?" he said. "Ships will come and go, and suddenly your cargo [could] become attractive, but by no means does this happen every time. You can be left in a subpar situation." "It's a delicate balancing act, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't," Strom said. "You have to merge trading patterns, commodities, and breakbulk and project cargo." l email: twitter: @janet_nodar vessel operating costs and how MPV/ HL carriers combine cargoes to fill out voyages. For example, "I may only have 2,000 freight tons; then I know the carrier will look for com- modities to fill out the ship. When you know global trade patterns, it helps you put the puzzle together and know if you are getting a reason- able rate from the carrier." "The [cargo] owners are increas- ingly taking a direct approach, and carriers are open to it," Puetz said. However, with large-scale, turnkey projects "there is still a benefit to using a project forwarder. When [clients] discover what a project forwarder does, they see the value." If the project forwarder is simply acting as a broker, he or she passes on the information and gets a com- mission from the carrier, he said. But for Puetz, "this is not normal." "We are not just a mailbox. The project forwarder adds value," he said. "A lot of our service is that we deliver credit lines for clients and improve cash flow for carriers by paying them earlier," offset- ting financial risk for both sides. They also work with the internal Can indexing bring transparency to breakbulk chartering? By Janet Nodar PROJECT SHIPPERS, PARTICULARLY engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) companies, have over the years expressed interest in a project cargo "index" as a potential window into the often-opaque costs of moving project and breakbulk cargo. But what would a project cargo/ breakbulk freight index look like? Susan Oatway, senior analyst for multipurpose and breakbulk shipping with Drewry Maritime Research, has spent a fair amount of time ponder- ing the nuts and bolts of a potential project cargo index. The complexity of project and breakbulk chartering — that ongoing, multi- dimensional game of Tetris — makes the creation of such an index much more difficult than indexes for the more standard- ized container cargoes. Adding to the difficulty, not all service providers are thrilled by the index idea. And because project freight rates are virtually never public knowledge, project cargoes themselves vary wildly, and tramp voyages are generally one-offs, just what exactly could or should be measured for an index remains a question. "There's quite a lot involved with breakbulk," Oatway told The Journal of Commerce. Chartering for break- bulk cargo "is not the simple hiring of space on a ship," she said. Typically, multipurpose/heavy- lift (MPV/HL) carriers will have some ships with regular, negotiated contracts, some ships with monthly voyages, and some ships open. "The in-house [chartering desk] will have to find cargo for these," Oatway said. A regional or global project or char- tering manager handles chartering, "It used to be easy to find five carriers, each with two ships that month, to fight over your business. Now there are just not as many ships around." Window of opportunity

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