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Breakbulk July2016

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10 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE JULY 2016 COVER STORY rent interest in breakbulk and project shipments appears to be opportunistic, and that the different types of carriers eventually will go back to doing what they do best. Persistently weak bulk and container rates are causing carriers to look elsewhere for business, but this will change when those markets recover, said Ed Bastian, director of global sales at BBC Charter- ing USA. "The talk about the container operators and the bulk carriers coming in and sweeping away all of the project cargo is, in my opinion, a lot of hype. They're never going to replace the heavy-lift car- rier," he said at the JOC Gulf Shipping Conference in Houston in June. Operators of general smaller and older multipurpose vessels without heavy-lift capacity or other features have felt the added competition most keenly. The slump in the oil, gas and mining industries has cut into project business, and has forced higher-end project carriers such as BBC to look to more basic types of breakbulk commodity shipments in order to keep their vessels employed, Bastian noted. Oatway has a similar view. She cited Drewry statistics showing that more than two-thirds of multipurpose and project cargo ships were basic vessels lacking specialized features such as minimum lift capabilities of 100 tons for project carriers and 250 tons for premium project carriers. "If you are just carrying the more traditional breakbulk ... that's where the problem is. There are too many ships out there that can do this," she said. Bulk carriers will continue to compete for steel, lumber and other basic break- bulk commodities that don't require ships with heavy-lift capabilities or other fea- tures, Oatway said. But she said that when container lines' rates recover, the carriers will decide that those cargoes aren't worth the added hassle. Dirk Visser, senior shipping consultant at Dynamar, said ro-ro carriers appear to be in the market to stay. Carriers such as Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines and Atlantic Container Lines, he noted, have invested in efficient new ships to handle heavy and oversize cargoes, These carriers can offer flexible ser- vices and handle heavy cargoes without the need for cranes or the threat of dis- rupting container terminal operations, Visser said. Roger Strevens, vice president and global head of key accounts at Wallenius Wilhelmsen, said container shipping is based on standardized cargo handling that tends to be inimical to one-of-a-kind shipments of heavy or oversize cargoes. "It is really not what container carriers or container terminals are set up to deal with," Strevens said. He noted that special- ized shipments take up large numbers of slots on container ships, and that these cargoes throw a wrench into operations at heavily automated container terminals. Strevens said he sees container lines' current interest in breakbulk and project shipments as "more of a reflection of the container market than of the true appetite for these cargoes by container carriers." l Contact Joseph Bonney at and follow him on Twitter: @JosephBonney. "THE TALK ABOUT THE CONTAINER OPERATORS AND THE BULK CARRIERS COMING IN AND SWEEPING AWAY ALL OF THE PROJECT CARGO IS, IN MY OPINION, A LOT OF HYPE."

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