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ESPO
ANNUAL REPORT 2006-2007

 

4. The market for conventional general cargo

4.1 Definitions and overview of conventional general cargo commodities

In contrast to the bulk cargo market, where parcel sizes are usually big enough to fill an entire ship (e.g. crude oil, iron ore, coal, grain, etc), the general cargo market deals with the shipment of consignments which are smaller than a ship or hold size. Broadly speaking, the general cargo market can be divided into three subcategories, namely containers, RoRo and conventional general cargo. This latter subcategory, also known as breakbulk, refers to cargo that is normally packed, bundled or unitized but which is not stowed in containers. Examples of breakbulk packaging techniques include (big)bags, bales, cardboard boxes, cases, casks, crates, drums or barrels which can be stowed on pallets or skids. The term "bundled", for its part, is sometimes used to refer to unpacked goods (usually iron and steel items or sawn timber) which are strapped together. Finally, the term "neobulk cargo" is often used for specific kinds of general cargo that is mostly shipped in larger parcels (Dynamar, 2006).

As such, conventional general cargo encompasses a myriad of different commodities. Dynamar (2006) lists no less than 150 of them, divided into a number of larger categories, for example:

  • Project cargo: e.g. power generation plants, steel mills, wood pulp factories, gas power plants, roadbuilding equipment, …
  • Powerplant equipment: e.g. gas turbines, power generators, transformers, turbines, heavy machinery, industrial equipment, …
  • Iron and steel products: e.g. bars, coils, plates, wires, …
  • Forest products: i.e. all kinds of wood and paper products
  • Parcels: e.g. malt, fertilizer, sugar, rice, …
  • Breakbulk shipments of smaller lots

 

4.2 General overview of the breakbulk market

As observed by Dynamar (2006:8), the first Transatlantic container sailing in 1966 "quickly made it clear that the conventional way of shipping general cargo (or breakbulk) was to become a sunset industry sooner rather than later". Indeed, because of the many logistical advantages it can offer (e.g. fast loading and unloading of vessels, coupled with an easy transfer between vessels and various inland transport modes, enabling door-to-door transport with a low risk of damage to the cargo), the container has been able to swiftly conquer a substantial share of the total general cargo market. This is clearly reflected in the traffic statistics of seaports around the world, which show an increasing container penetration rate (cf. infra). As a result, containerization "has been the death knell for many breakbulk ships and traditional shipping lines" (Dynamar, 2006:14).

However, it has to be admitted that breakbulk shipping has started flourishing again in recent years. In this respect, Dynamar (2006) outlines a number of recent demand drivers behind breakbulk shipping. Firstly, booming economies in the Far East (especially China and India) as well as Brazil, Russia and Southern Africa require huge investments in infrastructure, factories and equipment. Indeed, the unprecedented industrial development of China, following its accession to the WTO in December 2001, has resulted in a massive demand for the construction of power plants and infrastructure projects, including entire seaports. This obviously constitutes a massive driver behind the demand for the shipment of project cargo. The same goes for developing economies which are showing a strong demand for the construction of bridges and roads, hospitals and schools, as well as water and power plants. Emerging East-Asian economies such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam constitute prime examples of this phenomenon.

A third important factor driving the demand for breakbulk shipping is formed by the worldwide gas and oil exploration/exploitation industries and the development of related petrochemical industries (cf. investments in pipes and drilling/refining equipment), the worldwide mining industry (cf. maintenance/renovation of existing fields or construction of new fields) as well as energy-related equipment and the alternative energy segment (e.g. wind power generating equipment). In this respect, the demand for oil and gas equipment and building materials has been particularly strong in countries in the Middle East in recent years, which is obviously not surprising. However, with certain economies aiming to reduce their oil dependency from the Middle East, rapid developments might be taking place in West Africa in the years to come.

Besides the above-mentioned factors, sudden peaks in breakbulk shipments can also be triggered by natural disasters such as the December 2004 Tsunami in the Bay of Bengal or Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (August 2005), which both resulted in the requirement to repair or reconstruct a massive amount of infrastructure.

Finally, a major factor affecting the demand for breakbulk shipments is formed by the state of the container market. In periods of low demand, container freight rates might drop to such low levels that it becomes economical to put certain breakbulk commodities (think for example of rice, sugar, forest products, iron or steel items, liquid chemicals, etc.) in bags and put them in containers. In such circumstances, any contribution to the costs of repositioning empty boxes is indeed highly welcomed by shipping lines. As a matter of fact, breakbulk cargoes on the backhaul leg of imbalanced trade routes will always attract the interest of container shipping lines. Indeed, by offering a regular, standardized service at low cost, container shipping lines can attract shippers with backhaul cargo who would normally use tramp shipping (Isemar, 2006). This obviously helps to solve the huge problem originating from the massive trade imbalance on the arterial container trade routes, in particular the Transpacific.

On the other hand, in periods of high demand for container shipments, space on the headhaul trade routes (e.g. Far East-Europe westbound or Far East-US eastbound) is so tight and rates are at such a high level that shipping lines often prefer to return their empty boxes to the loading areas as quickly as possible, where they can immediately be filled with well-paying cargoes for export. As an illustration, Dynamar (2006:18) points out that "in the 2004 peak period, one conventional reefership operator reported an unusual increase of breakbulk cargo offerings for the positioning trips of its vessels".

Although the general cargo market has witnessed an increased container penetration rate in recent years (cf. infra), the volume of breakbulk cargo shipped overseas is still very significant. It is estimated to be in the region of 400-450 million tons per year and could well reach the 500 million ton mark in the not too distant future.

 

4.3 Ways of shipping breakbulk cargoes

Given the enormous variety of different cargoes involved, it comes as no surprise that there exist several ways in which breakbulk cargoes can be shipped. Broadly speaking, the following ways can be distinguished: conventional liner-type concepts, barge carriers, container ships, forest products carriers, heavy lift and project carriers, conventional reeferships and RoRo ships. These will be briefly discussed in the following paragraphs. For a more extensive discussion, the reader is referred to Dynamar (2006).

 

4.3.1 Conventional liner-type concepts

34

However, many container vessels nowadays have troubles meeting their expected times of arrival and respecting their fixed sailing schedules, as discussed in Chapter 2 of this Report.

Although the industry certainly needs reliable maritime services for the shipment of breakbulk cargoes, the concept of "weekly fixed-day services", which characterizes today’s liner shipping industry34, is something the deepsea trade of conventional cargo has never really been able to achieve. Instead, the following service/schedule options can be distinguished in the case of breakbulk shipping (Dynamar, 2006:31):

  • Services of a certain frequency operated with dedicated ships;
  • Services offering sailings within a certain period, deploying trip charters;
  • Services operated on inducement, but still within a more or less defined trade lane;
  • A mixture of two or three of the above options;
  • "Parcelling" (also referred to as "shipping opportunities"), i.e. tramping whereby a vessel is chartered (usually on a trip-out basis) once a specific cargo volume is available.

This segment of breakbulk shipping is dominated by Europe-based carriers such as Rickmers Linie, Chipolbrok, Conti Lines, Cargo Levant, Spliethoff Group, CEC or Beluga Chartering and Shipping. Major non-European players include Arab Lines, IRISL and Bonyad Shipping in the Middle East; Indotrans, Eastern Car Liners, Kyowa Shipping, NYK and Thoresen Thai Agencies Public Company in the Far East; Austral Asia Line and Tasman Orient Lines in Australia/New-Zealand; MUR Shipping in Africa; TBS Shipping Services, Seabord Marine, Intermarine and Associated Transport Line in North America; CCNI, CSAV and Aliança in South America. It is beyond the scope of the present Report to discuss the ship fleet and trading profiles of all these operators in detail. For an excellent overview, the reader is referred to Dynamar (2006).

 

4.3.2 Barge Carriers

This type of breakbulk shipping basically refers to the situation where a mothership (mostly a propelled floating dock) carries barges loaded with cargo over (long) deepsea distances. When reaching the mothership’s port of call, the barges are "launched" from the mothership for the remaining part of their journey, i.e. from anchorage to final destination or vice versa (Dynamar, 2006:39). The barge carrier concept can broadly be divided in two categories, i.e. "Lighter Aboard Ship" (LASH) and "Barge Container Carrier" (BACO).

One of the main reasons for the development of this type of breakbulk shipping was the need to lessen vessels’ dependency from port infrastructure and avoid port congestion. Other advantages include fast loading/discharging operations, the possibility of door-to-door shipment and the avoidance of risk associated with cargo handling in the port (Dynamar, 2006:42). Other barge carrier types include Heavy Lift vessels and Naval Auxiliary vessels. Yet two other designs, i.e. the "Barge Catamaran" (BACAT) and "Sea Barge" (SEABEE) are currently no longer in use.

The following breakbulk/neobulk cargoes are often transported in barge carriers: forest products (various types); project, oversized and other cargo (e.g. plant equipment); steel products (various types); and bulk commodities. Nowadays there are only three deepsea trades being served by the barge carrier concept, i.e. North Europe-West Africa, North Europe-US Gulf and US East Coast/Gulf-Middle East. Compared to the other ways of shipping breakbulk commodities, the barge carrier option remains a relatively small activity, although substantial investments are required from the operators involved. Examples of such operators include Forest Lines, Seereederei Baco-Liner, Waterman Steamship Corporation and Murmansk Shipping Company.

 

4.3.3 Container ships

35

This kind of handling is not very practical on today’s large container vessels of 7500+ teu. In fact, handling breakbulk to/from container ships generally hinders the regular container operations and risks extending the vessel’s port stay. In addition, out-of-gauge items might lead to the loss of a significant number of teu slots. The trimaran "B&Q" of Dame Ellen MacArthur, for example, consumed no less than 84 teu slots on the CMA CGM BIZET on its voyage from Southampton to China in February 2006 (Dynamar, 2006:44).

Some kinds of breakbulk cargoes are carried by cellular container ships, although this is the exception rather than the rule, especially on the headhaul East-West trades and during peak seasons. Breakbulk cargoes carried by container ships usually concern oversized cargo or heavy lift items that do not fit into standard containers. Instead they are secured on special container equipment such as flats and platforms and then lifted onto the ship by a container gantry crane. Another solution includes specially constructed loading platforms on or under deck in combination with platforms or flat racks onto which the cargo is lifted by floating cranes35. Finally, breakbulk cargoes can also be lifted on the hatch cover or in the hold on the tank top - a method which is only possible on container ships which are equipped with special ‘stoppers’ in the cells to that the lowest tier is left free (Dynamar, 2006:44).

 

4.3.4 Forest product carriers

The forest products cargo segment encompasses a wide variety of wood and paper products, both in raw-material, semi-finished product and finished-product form. Examples include wood chips, wood panels, pulp, sawn timber, plywood, newsprint, paper reels, paper rolls, paperboard, etc. Forest products are nowadays shipped in specialized vessels such as "Open Hatch Gantry Crane" vessels (OHGCs) or "Totally Enclosed Forest Carriers" (TEFCs) which provide protection against harsh weather conditions.

The forest products shipping industry is characterized by a limited number of players, such as Gearbulk, Star Shipping, Saga Forest Carriers, Westwood Shipping, Rederi AB Transatlantic, Kent Line or Seaboard International Shipping (Dynamar, 2006:46-47). As far as trade lanes are concerned, well-established exporters of forest products are located in the Pacific-Northwest, Eastern Canada and Scandinavia, although competition is heating up from suppliers in South America (Brazil and Chile), Russia and even China. Major importers of forest products include China and Europe.

Finally, it should be noted that forest products are nowadays increasingly being carried in containers, which is clearly reflected in throughput figures for ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp, Bristol, Liverpool or Tees (Dynamar, 2006:48). One of the main reasons for the increasing container penetration rate in the forest products sector lies in the fact that, whereas parcel sizes used to be too big to fit into a container in the past, nowadays a first "transformation" of the cargo takes place at the origin location, such that it increasingly loses weight but gains value. This makes it perfectly suitable for supply chains involving regular shipments in containers (Isemar, 2006).

 

4.3.5 Heavy-lift and project carriers

Operators in this market (e.g. BigLift Shipping, Dockwise, Jumbo Shipping, etc.) generally employ purpose-built ships able to carry very heavy and/or very large cargoes such as (power)plants or factories, powerplant equipment or offshore oil and gas facilities. Loading and discharging of the vessels is done through various methods, including lift on-lift off (LoLo) and roll on-roll off (RoRo). As mentioned in the introduction of this chapter, the greatest demand for specialist heavy lift shipping nowadays arises from the wide range of offshore and petrochemical industry projects (for example in Canada, India, Far Eastern Russia and West Africa) as well as mining activities, factories and power plants in countries such as Australia, China and India. It is again beyond the scope of the present Report to discuss ship fleets and trade routes in detail. The reader is referred to Dynamar (2006) for an extensive overview. Finally it is worth mentioning that, because of increased demand for heavy lift ships able to carry rigs and large offshore constructions, many owners of tanker tonnage are considering the conversion of some of their single-hull vessels into heavy lift ships. This will provide a new life for some tankers which would otherwise have to be phased out due to international double-hull requirements. Frontline, having set aside six 1989-1993 built single-hull vessels for conversion at China’s COSCO shipyard group, is a case in point. The vessel conversions consist of the replacement of the existing mid-sized section by a new heavy-lift section (Nightingale, 2007).

Heavy-lift vessels obviously do not operate on fixed routes, but they are attracted to those areas where large investments in the oil and gas industry are made. Nowadays, the main discharge areas are the Middle East, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia and the North Sea while loading areas are situated in the Mediterranean, Far East and Australia (Nightingale, 2007).

 

4.3.6 Conventional reeferships

Conventional reeferships mainly carry high-value foodstuffs that require refrigeration and/or atmosphere control in order to avoid spoilage. Examples of reefer cargoes include fresh and frozen fruit (e.g. bananas, deciduous and other citrus fruits), vegetables, fish, meat, poultry and dairy products. Reefer shipping is a prime example of a one-way (and for some products seasonal) business, i.e. cargoes are mainly exported from the Southern Hemisphere to industrialized countries in the Northern Hemisphere (Dynamar, 2006:52).

36

According to Dynamar (2006) the capacity provided by the conventional reefership fleet dropped by an average 1.04% per year between 1998 and early 2006, to arrive at a total figure of 334 million cubic feet. In contrast, the cellular integral reefer capacity of containerships increased by 6.15% per year over the period considered.

Just as is the case for the forest product industry, the reefer shipping sector is increasingly being put under pressure from container shipping. It is estimated that about 50-60% of all reefer trade is nowadays being carried in containers, and this percentage is expected to grow (quickly) in the years to come36. Compared to conventional reeferships, reefer containers have the additional advantage that they can also be used to transport non-food cargoes which are temperature-sensitive, such as electronic equipment, photographic film, pharmaceuticals or computer chips (Dynamar, 2006:52).

As far as the operators are concerned, major players in the conventional reefership market include independent operators such as Eastwind Transport, Lavinia Group, NYKLauritzenCool, Seatrade Reefer Group and Star Reefers. Besides these, large fruit companies such as Chiquita (Great White Fleet), Del Monte (Horn Linie), Dole (Dole Fresh Fruit International, Dole Ocean Cargo Express) and Fyffes Plc. of Ireland also play a very important role. For a detailed analysis of these operators and the trade routes in which they are active, the reader is referred to Dynamar (2006).

 

4.3.7 RoRo ships

Although mainly aimed at the transport of wheeled cargo, certain RoRo ships are also used to transport breakbulk cargoes on deepsea trade lanes. As far as the ship fleet is concerned, a distinction can be made between four RoRo vessel types (Dynamar, 2006:57): Full RoRo cargo vessels; General cargo ships with (auxiliary) RoRo access; Container vessels with RoRo capacity (so-called ConRos); and Pure Car Carriers (PCCs) and Pure Car and Truck Carriers (PCTCs). As discussed in the previous chapter of this Market Report, RoRo cargo can be either wheeled by itself (i.e. cars, trucks or rolling equipment) or ‘mobilised’ (i.e. placed on a trailer-type unit and then towed on board). As a matter of fact, RoRo provides the ability to carry a very wide range of cargo, such as cars (of all kinds), trucks and trailers, (agricultural) machinery, mining equipment, roadbuilding equipment, project cargo, forest products, iron and steel, coils, cables, oversized cargo, etc. Advantages of RoRo vessels are the fact that there is no need for dockside cargo handling equipment, and the fact that it enables fast turnaround times for certain cargo types. On the other hand, stowage productivity for RoRo ships is rather low, extensive lashing and securing can be needed (in order to avoid sudden movement of cargo). Last but not least, RoRo vessels are rather expensive.

 

4.3.8 Other ways of shipping breakbulk cargo

Apart from the ‘classic’ vessel types listed above, other vessels used to transport breakbulk cargo include small Handysize (up to 32,000 dwt) or Handymax (up to 47,000 dwt) bulk ships.

 

4.4 Some figures on the general cargo ship fleet

Table 31 provides an overview of the general cargo ship fleet for selected dates. At the first of July 2006 the total fleet reached 98.4m dwt, a 2.4% increase compared to the beginning of 2002. This is significantly lower than the 22.4% increase in the dwt capacity of the world merchant fleet over the period considered. As a result, general cargo ships represented just 10% of the total dwt capacity of the world merchant fleet at mid-2006, whereas this was 12% at the beginning of 2002.

As Table 31 indicates, the dwt capacity of single-deck ships increased significantly since the beginning of 2002, resulting in an increased market share among general cargo ships. At mid-2006 nearly half the dwt capacity of the general cargo ship fleet concerned single-deck ships. On the other hand, the dwt capacity of multi-deck ships decreased significantly over the period considered, obviously resulting in a lower market share. Whereas multi-deck ships accounted for more than 30% of the total general cargo ship fleet at the beginning of 2002, their share decreased to some 26% by mid-2006. The same picture applies to reefer ships and RoRo cargo ships, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent. The biggest fleet growth was registered by Special ships, which enjoyed a 28% increase in dwt capacity, resulting in a 2.5 percentage points increase in market share.

 

Table 31: Overview of the general cargo ship fleet for selected dates

 

01-01-2002

 

01/07/2006

 

Growth

 

(‘000 dwt)

%

(‘000 dwt)

%

 

Single-deck ships

42.137

43.8%

47.018

47.8%

11.6%

Multi-deck ships

29,852

31.1%

25,676

26.1%

-14.0%

Reefer ships

7,220

7.5%

6,608

6.7%

-8.5%

Special ships

9,554

9.9%

12,228

12.4%

28.0%

RoRo cargo ships

7,365

7.7%

6,865

7.0%

-6.8%

General cargo ships

96,128

100%

98,395

100%

2.4%

World merchant fleet

799,763

978.522

22.4%

   

Source: Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (2006)

In view of the above, it is hardly surprising that the general cargo ship fleet is of relatively high age compared to the total world fleet (Table 32). At the beginning of 2006 more than 57% of the general cargo ship fleet (measured in dwt terms) was over 20 years old, while for the total world fleet this was just 27.1%. On the other hand, hardly 22.5% of general cargo ships was under 10 years old at that time, while the corresponding percentage for the world fleet was 45.4%. The average age of the general cargo ship fleet at the beginning of 2006 was 17.5 years, some 5 years older than the average for the total merchant fleet. This is a direct result of the fact that shipping lines have been very reluctant to invest in newbuildings during the last decade, a couple of exceptions notwithstanding. In fact, despite some recent newbuilding projects coupled with delayed scrapping of vessels, the general cargo fleet runs the risk of being faced with an acute capacity shortage in the short term. This will obviously translate into higher prices on the charter market. This is not unimportant since, in contrast to container shipping, charter rates make up a large share of the total cost for general cargo ships.

 

Table 32: Age profile of the general cargo ship fleet versus other ship fleets as at 01/01/2006 (percentage of total dwt)

Vessel type

0-4
years

5-9
years

10-14
years

15-19
years

20+
years

Average
age

Oil tankers

31.6%

22.0%

19.7%

12.4%

14.3%

10.0 years

Bulk carriers

19.7%

21.6%

16.6%

10.2%

32.0%

13.1 years

General cargo ships

8.6%

13.9%

10.6%

9.6%

57.4%

17.5 years

Containerships

32.1%

28.3%

17.3%

8.2%

14.0%

9.4 years

Other ships

18.2%

14.5%

11.2%

8.8%

47.3%

15.3 years

World fleet

24.2%

21.2%

16.8%

10.6%

27.1%

12.2 years

Source: UNCTAD (2006)

 

4.5 Conventional general cargo traffic handled in European seaports

37

Actually, the figures in Table 33 refer to the "Other cargo, not elsewhere specified" figures of the Eurostat database. Hence, the figures exclude dry bulk, liquid bulk, containers and RoRo cargo.

Table 33 provides an overview of conventional general cargo traffic handled in a selection of European seaports. The table was drawn from a large Eurostat database containing about 340 ports, handling a total throughput of 253 million tons of conventional general cargo37 in 2005. However, just like was the case in the previous chapter, we have limited ourselves to those seaports which handled at least 200,000 tons. This resulted in a total ports sample of about 200 individual ports spread across 23 different countries. Their combined conventional general cargo throughput amounted to 238 million tons in 2005, effectively representing 94% of the total throughput of the 340 ports in the Eurostat database.

Although the total throughput of 253 million tons implies that conventional general cargo is by far the smallest (in tonnage terms) of the five traffic categories discussed in this Market Report, its importance for the port sector should not be underestimated. Compared to the handling of, say, crude oil or the major dry bulks, conventional general cargo is much more labour-intensive and generates a substantially higher value-added per ton.

As can be seen from Table 33, the lion’s share of conventional general cargo was handled in ports in Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Finland and France. Between them, these ten countries accounted for 212 million tons of conventional general cargo traffic in 2005. On an individual port basis, Antwerp is by far the market leader with a volume of 17.4 million tons in 2005. This represents about 7% of the combined throughput of the 340 ports in the Eurostat database. Other major conventional general cargo ports, handling more than 5 million tons per year, include Rotterdam, Taranto, Dunkirk and Valencia. Apart from these ports, 24 other ports handled between 2 and 5 million tons of conventional general cargo in 2005. At the other end of the spectrum, more than 200 ports handled less than half a million ton of general cargo traffic.

Generally speaking, the handling of conventional general cargo is confronted with ever-tighter handling space in many seaports in Europe (as more and more square metres are consumed by containers) and, given the strong labour intensity, it is also very sensitive to labourrelated issues.

 

Table 33: Overview of conventional general cargo traffic handled in European seaports (2005)

Port

tons

Port

tons

Port

tons

Port

tons

Antwerp

17,384,429

Marín-Pontevedra

559,441

Szczecin

2,200,674

Karlskrona

223,684

Ghent

4,618,722

Huelva

464,585

Gdynia

1,578,535

Other Swedish ports

409,888

Zeebrugge

1,039,630

Cartagena

444,169

Gdansk

863,555

Sweden

21,536,619

Oostende

343,385

Gijón

421,401

Swinoujscie

661,783

London

3,308,409

Belgium

23,386,166

Cádiz

398,537

Other Polish ports

100

Tees & Hartlepool

2,619,797

Frederiskværk Havn

740,413

Tarragona

389,708

Poland

5,304,647

Medway

2,493,405

Fredericia (Og Shell-Havnen)

463,310

Alicante

322,164

Aveiro

1,374,830

Newport, Gwent

1,896,850

Vejle

388,316

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

253,452

Vila do Porto

1,371,303

Immingham

1,880,218

Randers

333,948

Villagarcía (de Arosa)

240,407

Setúbal

1,212,411

Aberdeen

1,842,951

Avedøreværkets Havn

283,782

Palma Mallorca

223,127

Leixões

488,559

Hull

1,585,088

Esbjerg

276,772

Other Spanish ports

385,620

Lisboa

439,070

Goole

1,262,576

Århus

252,228

Spain

24,391,237

Other Portuguese ports

76,826

Forth

1,183,464

Odense

236,725

Dunkerque

5,779,941

Portugal

4,962,999

Trent River

1,058,294

Aalborg

210,587

Marseille

2,998,569

Constanta

5,012,843

Portsmouth

782,693

Other Danish ports

664,416

Rouen

1,479,753

Galati

966,595

Liverpool

777,031

Denmark

3,850,497

La Rochelle

880,221

Other Romanian ports

170,093

Belfast

602,452

Bremen, Blumenthal

4,508,065

Bayonne

627,588

Romania

6,149,531

Clydeport

590,224

Brake

2,645,544

Nantes Saint-Nazaire

584,943

Koper

992,883

Cardiff

587,191

Hamburg

2,353,475

Boulogne-sur-Mer

407,295

Slovenia

992,883

Warrenpoint

382,419

Wismar

1,977,317

Sète

269,631

Rauma

2,982,065

Boston

375,275

Duisburg, Homberg, Walsum

1,339,339

Other French ports

1,001,819

Kotka

2,280,157

Felixstowe

358,044

Rostock

1,240,499

France

14,029,760

Hamina

1,764,947

Bristol

349,958

Bremerhaven

1,185,088

Taranto

7,230,846

Kemi

994,052

Tyne

312,595

Emden

884,293

Ravenna

3,741,117

Raahe

795,131

Peterhead

288,631

Nordenham

680,351

Venezia

2,377,480

Helsinki

785,921

Shoreham

266,359

Lübeck

417,388

Livorno

2,326,550

Pori

781,698

Heysham

257,953

Wilhelmshaven

411,384

Monfalcone

2,293,394

Oulu

695,117

Londonderry

231,330

Kiel

328,796

Genova

1,807,931

Hanko

635,659

Poole

227,983

Cuxhaven

226,655

Marina Di Carrara

1,723,434

Loviisa

615,534

Dundee

225,850

Other German ports

157,748

Piombino

1,383,221

Pietarsaari

492,041

Ipswich

222,172

Germany

18,355,942

Chioggia

1,026,824

Kokkola

425,028

River Hull & Humber

221,644

Estonian ports

6,853

Porto Nogaro

738,583

Naantali

340,074

Swansea

208,085

Estonia

6,853

La Spezia

620,667

Turku

306,808

Other UK ports

1,107,379

Drogheda

362,677

Savona-Vado

447,379

Koverhar

233,890

United Kingdom

27,506,320

Limerick

326,330

Trieste

275,135

Other Finnish ports

979,172

Rijeka

990,930

Cork

306,210

Brindisi

213,359

Finland

15,107,294

Other Croatian ports

378,762

Dublin

294,195

Civitavecchia

212,050

Husum

2,100,436

Croatia

1,369,692

Other Irish ports

148,250

Other Italian ports

2,078,486

Jätterssön

1,664,134

Bergen Ports

2,020,096

Ireland

1,437,662

Italy

28,496,456

Halmstad

1,625,532

Drammen Ports

1,791,929

Eleusina

1,447,344

Limassol (Lemesos)

447,652

Piteå

1,587,246

Mo i Rana/Rana

1,636,999

Thessaloniki

1,296,921

Larnaca (Larnaka)

200,685

Norrköping

1,497,537

Kristiansund N/Grip

1,180,196

Volos

1,105,335

Other Cypriotic ports

38,157

Gävle

1,396,624

Haugesund Ports

841,982

Chalkida

771,920

Cyprus

686,494

Oxelösund (ports)

1,391,800

Verdal/Levanger

838,292

Almyros (Amaliapoli) Volou

326,692

Riga

4,373,132

Sundsvall

1,202,705

Porsgrunn Ports

490,250

Kavala

262,090

Liepaja

1,636,867

Varberg

1,191,034

Måløy

439,596

Larymna

202,720

Ventspils

735,252

Karlshamn

1,139,886

Fredrikstad/Sarpsborg

428,400

Other Greek ports

1,146,449

Latvia

6,745,251

Norrsundet

1,109,250

Oslo

419,536

Greece

6,559,471

Klaipeda

2,262,325

Iggesund

1,098,359

Stavanger Ports

406,699

Valencia

5,664,944

Lithuania

2,262,325

Skutskär

1,037,740

Larvik

400,122

Bilbao

3,779,335

Maltese ports

175,232

Umeå

998,605

Trondheim/Flakk

305,952

Barcelona

1,760,090

Malta

175,232

Skellefteå

355,202

Ålesund

291,596

Pasajes

1,750,527

Rotterdam

8,275,914

Uddevalla

347,219

Moss

261,177

Algeciras

1,200,899

Vlissingen

4,140,100

Malmö

343,752

Other Norwegian ports

4,887,255

Avilés

1,033,596

Velsen/Ijmuiden

2,827,924

Köping

288,734

Norway

16,640,077

La Coruña

1,015,262

Terneuzen

2,263,332

Helsingborg

272,506

   

Vigo

909,626

Amsterdam

2,172,226

Västerås

254,746

Total all ports

252,571,216

Sevilla

709,305

Moerdijk

1,060,248

       

Santander

686,534

Delfzijl/Eemshaven

849,692

       

Las Palmas

643,249

Dordrecht

419,889

       

Castellón

569,462

Other Dutch ports

609,493

       

Ferrol

565,797

Netherlands

22,617,808

       

Source: Eurostat

 

Overview of main developments in the European conventional general cargo market during 2006

Development of the general cargo fleet in 2006

  • Despite the fact that many breakbulk cargoes are increasingly being carried by containerships, the multipurpose ship fleet continues to grow. According to Clarkson Research Services Ltd, the total multipurpose ship fleet counted 2583 ships for a combined capacity of 23.57 million dwt at the end of 2006, representing a 3.0% increase compared to the year before. The combined ‘container capable capacity’ of these vessels reached 1.08 million teu (most vessels can carry less than 500 teu). This is hardly 10% of the overall capacity of the container capable fleet (i.e. including fully cellular boxships). At the end of 2006 the orderbook for multipurpose vessels included 470 ships for a combined 4.59 million dwt, i.e. some 20% of the fleet capacity at that time.
  • As far as the reefership fleet is concerned, the total fleet comprised 1237 vessels at the end of 2006 for a combined capacity of 331.24 million cubic feet (7.29 million dwt), a slight contraction compared to the 334.12 million cubic feet (7.35 million dwt) at the end of 2005. The orderbook for reeferships comprised just 15 vessels for 6.63 million cubic feet at the end of 2006.

 

Port/terminal development in Europe (non-exhaustive)

  • DP World will concentrate the vast majority of its breakbulk handling activities in the port of Antwerp at the Churchill dock as from the end of 2007. Its 1800m quay length and 45 hectare facility will be upgraded accordingly, making it one of the largest breakbulk facilities in Europe. Antwerp is the largest port in Europe for conventional general cargo.
  • Following increasing demand for breakbulk shipments, Bremen-based BLG Logistics considers expanding its conventional terminal in the Northern German port. Similarly, Rickmers Linie and Conti Lines reportedly consider a move into stevedoring to secure handling capacity.
  • Rotterdam-based Broekman Group acquired a 50% share in compatriot multipurpose stevedore Gevelco in 2006. The latter is developing a second covered all weather steel terminal in the Dutch port. At the first facility, Finnish steel producer Ruukki is the largest customer.
  • Similarly, Wijngaard Natie is developing a covered all weather terminal in the port of Antwerp. Just like the Gevelco terminals in Rotterdam and the Waterlandse terminal in Amsterdam, the Wijngaard Natie facility will mainly be used for the handling of iron and steel products in intra-Europe shortsea trades.
  • Hamburg-based Buss Ports & Logistics Group has announced plans to invest € 2m in a new multipurpose terminal in Stade-Büzfleth on the river Elbe (outside Hamburg) to expand their port handling activities and have capacity for additional bulk and breakbulk business.

 

Other significant developments (non-exhaustive)

  • ESAN Lines (registered in the Netherlands Antilles) started a multipurpose service between North Europe and the Caribbean with chartered-in tonnage of around 5000 dwt in April 2006.
  • SolNiver Lines, a joint subsidiary of Swedish Orient Line and Niver Line, exchanged RoRo ships for four multipurpose units for its mainly forest products-oriented service between the Baltic, Northern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean in May 2006. For wheeled cargo, space is provided by POL-Levant’s RoRo service between Scandinavia/Baltic and the Mediterranean.
  • IRIS Lines is reportedly considering the expansion of its breakbulk activities, while UASC is mulling to do just the opposite.
  • The sale of Forest Lines’ HICKORY in late 2006 (reportedly for breaking) apparently indicated the end of the LASH concept. The vessel was deployed on the Transatlantic where she carried agricultural products (e.g. rice), but volumes had dropped significantly following the EU ban on genetically modified agricultural products.
  • In the heavy-lift sector, venture capitalist 3i acquired Dutch-based specialist Dockwise Transport BV from previous owners Heerema Group and Wilh. Wilhelmsen for a reported USD 700m in 2006.
  • Spurred by increasing demand for heavy-lift shipping, Norway’s Frontline decided to convert two single-hull tankers of 140,000-150,000 dwt into heavy-lift ships during 2006. Another four ships might have reportedly been involved as well.
  • In the reefer sector, the intended sale of Fresh Delmonte was put on hold in 2006. Reportedly no interested parties could be found with sufficient indemnification for outstanding lawsuits.
  • Seatrade Groningen sold 14 of its reefer vessels (with a combined 4.3 million cubic feet capacity) to German KG company Münchmeyer Petersen Capital (MPC) in early 2006. Another eight vessels followed later on. The total estimated price is USD 150 million, including a charter-back of at least four vessels. Seatrade also reportedly acquired four ships (1 million cf capacity) in April/May.
  • In August 2006 Star Reefers took delivery of the first of series of four 620,000 cubic feet, 550 teu capacity conventional reefership newbuildings. This was the first order of substance in deepsea reeferships in many years. The vessels will be chartered out to Fyffes International for an initial period of five years.
  • In late 2006 Norway’s Green Reefers acquired from various owners no less than 20 second-hand mid-sized reefer vessels for a reported USD 180 million.
  • In December 2006 J. Lauritzen surprisingly withdrew from owning conventional reeferships altogether. The impact on NYKLauritzenCool, a 50/50 joint venture with NYK, remains unclear.
  • In the Caribbean-North Europe fruit trade, established conventional reefership operators such as Dole, Fyffes, Great White Fleet, NYKLauritzenCool and Seatrade have been facing head-on competition from Maersk Line since the beginning of 2007. The Danish carrier deploys 2600 teu boxships with 600 reefer plugs each in a new weekly "CRX" service. The maximum reefer capacity of each ship stands at 1.4 million cubic feet, equivalent to four 350,000 cf conventional reeferships. Ports of call on the CRX include San Juan, Rio Haina, Kingston, Puerto Moin, Manzanillo, Caucedo, Southampton, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam and Algeciras.
  • During 2006, Hyundai Merchant Marine’s breakbulk division secured monthly shipments of an average 30,000 tons of iron and steel from Antwerp to Changshu in China.
  • Universal Africa Line added a 15th multipurpose vessel to its fleet serving the African oil and gas trade from (mainly) North Europe and the US Gulf in late 2006.
  • H. Stinnes Linien from Rostock (Germany) started increasing vessel capacity on its SanMex service between North Europe and the Caribbean/Mexico East Coast. When fully upgraded, the service will offer fortnightly sailings between Antwerp, Bremen, Bilbao and Rio Haina, Vera Cruz, Altamira, San Juan and Balboa. The SanMex is probably the only scheduled multipurpose service in this trade.
  • Rickmers Reederei reportedly ordered 8 x 24,000 dwt multipurpose ships (dubbed "Superflex Mumbai-max") from an undisclosed Chinese shipyard in early 2007, for delivery as from 2009 onwards. The contract includes an option for four similar ships.
  • Greek non-operating owner Restis Group reportedly exited the reefer sector in 2006.

Source: Dynamar (2006, 2007) and various trade press articles

 

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