Heavylift / Breakbulk
Reshuffling the top ten
One superlative usually chases down the last one when it comes to multipurpose, project and heavylift consignments. Though shipments are getting ever bigger, higher and heavier, the actively-operated fleet has actually shrunk slightly in the past months. The Dutch analyst Dynamar has had a close look at the changes taking place amongst the ten largest operators.
Now we can put a concrete figure on the development, and state that the declining price of oil has had a clear impact on the maritime transportation of multipurpose, project and heavylift consignments. Information recently released in a report by the Dutch analyst Dynamar has shown that the capacity of the tonnage that is active in this segment has been reduced in the last twelve months from April. In this month the ten largest operators of multipurpose, project and heavylift vessels deployed a fleet of 435 ships overall, with an average age of nine years and a overall deadweight capacity of 7.2 million t.
By way of comparison, this figure is just under 10% below that registered in April 2014 (449 ships), which had offered a total deadweight capacity of 7.9 million dwt. Dynamar believes that this is a reflection of a currently less-than-favourable oil and gas project market, a situation which the enterprise thinks may persist for some time more.
There have been some changes in the top ten largest operators in the multipurpose, project and heavylift consignment sector. Intermarine has taken the place of Hansa Heavy Lift, which was number ten last year and now comes eleventh.
The study has established that BBC currently operates the largest volume of tonnage, which means that the Leer-based German shipping line has replaced China’s Coscol as the largest operator of multipurpose, heavylift or project tonnage. This may change again, however, once deliveries pencilled into the two operators’ orderbooks have been carried out.
Thorco, a relatively young merger between Clipper Projects and the original Thorco enterprise, has seen a very considerable reduction in the overall size of its fleet. It fell from 100 ships with a total of 1,471,000 dwt last year to 75 vessels offering a total tonnage of 984,000 dwt. These figures mean the corporation now takes third spot in this comparison of multipurpose shipping lines, which measures the deadweight capacity of the fleets concerned.
The lines Chipolbrok and Rickmers-Linie, which are considered the longest-established operators on the list, prove the indication that size is not everything in this field. The former is placed seventh in the ranking that is under review here, whilst Rickmers-Linie, in turn, comes tenth. They have thus both managed to maintain their top ten rankings.
Liner services represented too
Relatively young enterprise are no less successful. MACS, which operates on routes to and from Northern Europe, the US Gulf as well as Southern Africa, and Swire Shipping, which in turn plies its trade in the Far East and the South Pacific, are 100% liner operators, and have made it onto the list.
AAL pursues a rather different concept, in contrast. The Singapore-based line not only operates the youngest fleet, but nowadays combines Far East–South Pacific liner shipping activities with separate worldwide tramping activity (see also page 33-35 of this issue).
If we turn the tables slightly and take a look at the capacity of the on-board cranes of the same ten companies, instead of their deadweight capacities in terms of cargo volume, then we encounter a completely different picture.
The aggregated heavylift capability of the same breakbulk operators sees their 435 vessels offering an aggregated heavylift capability to lift nearly 122,000 t of goods. This represents an 8% decline vis-à-vis the previous year. If we analyse this in terms of the average figure, then the result comes to an average of 280 t per unit (which simultaneously represents no change vis-à-vis the previous year).
AAL has the most powerful cranes
BBC Chartering remains the most capable operator of the pack in comparison with all of its competitors, offering a total amounting to 44,000 t. This equates to an average of 340 t per ship, and its lifting capacities per vessel range between 120 and 900 t. In terms of the average lifting power per vessel, however, AAL leads the ranking. Its ships have an average crane capacity of 600 t, making them the strongest performers. Their capacities per unit come to 240 to 700 t.
In this aggregate lifting capacity analysis Coscol now comes third, having taken over in this position from Thorco. Rickmers-Linie (550 t) and Chipolbrok (500 t) each have considerable lifting capacities per vessel.
Dynamar’s analysis is based on the number of general cargo and multipurpose ships operated in the field today; with and without crane capacities; operated by the said ten leading global operators.
The reason Dynamar gives for this selection is that such ships form the core of the breakbulk trades. Ro-ro units, open-hatch general cargo vessels (OHGCs), vehicle carriers and semi-submersibles do not form part of the analysis, even though they also carry breakbulk.
Focusing on cargo
Intermarine, a specialist for the maritime transportation of breakbulk, heavylift and project cargo, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
When Roger Kavanagh founded Intermarine in New Orleans LA (USA) in February 1990, he based his effort on one simple but overarching principle: cargo and customers come first when it comes to finding transport solutions. Once the company understands a customer’s needs, then it will be able to find the appropriate vessel to deliver on its promise, Kavanagh believed.
Alfred J.V. Stanley, Intermarine’s president and CEO, explained that «Roger’s vision is still the cornerstone of all of our operations today. The industry for heavylift and breakbulk cargo has also evolved in the meantime, however, to a point where a focus on timeliness, transport infrastructure, reliability and safety are simply expected. Our laser-like focus on what we call cargo-centric solutions based on our customers’ needs – this is still the hallmark of Intermarine.»