Breakbulk and heavylift charter rates hit all-time highs

Charter hire rates for multipurpose and heavylift vessels have surpassed the highs registered in 2008 to create new all-time records, latest data from Drewry shows.

According to Drewry’s Multipurpose Time Charter Index, average annual one-year period rates for July are expected to be some 65% higher than July 2020, almost 50% higher than July 2019 and surpass their last peak of 2008. Drewry’s Multipurpose Time Charter Index is a weighted average of time charter rates across the breakbulk and heavylift fleet which is updated monthly.

Breakbulk and heavylift charter rates have seen historic lows over the last 10 years, exacerbated by container carriers moving further and further into this sector. When utilisation is weak in the competing bulk and container sectors, breakbulk cargo is stuffed into containers and project cargo carried by a wider variety of vessels. This increased competition has kept rates weak for much of the past decade, however currently the reverse is true.

“Capacity constraints in the competing sectors due to container equipment shortages, port congestion and the release of pent-up demand post the global pandemic, have combined to provide a perfect storm for the multipurpose fleet,” Drewry explained in a new report.

Drewry expects demand for multipurpose and heavylift tonnage to rise by some 11.5% in 2021 compared to 2020, before slowing to a steady 3.5% per year to 2025.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


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