An ocean cargo specialist is warning that bottlenecks will continue to tighten in 2007 and during the remainder of the decade for shippers of heavy, oversized and outsized freight known as project cargo.
“Shippers of these types of cargo should make commitments to move freight today even if their shipments are not ready for delivery six months from now,” stated Ike Ortiz-Luis, International Project Cargo Manager at DGX (Dependable Global Express), an international ocean and airfreight forwarder based near the Port of Long Beach, CA.
“Demand for vessels known as break bulk carriers, equipped to carry oversized cargo, is unprecedented,” stated Ortiz-Luis. “Yet, these ships increasingly are in short supply,” he added.
Fueling the demand for heavy equipment, made and exported almost wholly from the US and Western Europe, is the growing needs of Asian nations as they industrialize, and the war torn countries of the Middle East. These nations are constructing or rebuilding massive projects including oil refineries, power plants, roads, airports and hospitals. While break bulk carriers are shrinking in number, a record amount of container ships is sliding down the ways in shipyards around the world.
Commented Ortiz-Luis, “containerships are designed to carry thousands of 40-foot containers per vessel. They can carry some project cargo, but space for this type of freight is very limited on these ships,” he affirmed.
The DGX project manager reports that he is receiving up to 50 telephone and e-mails per day, requesting quotes from shippers anxious to move their freight on time and on schedule. “We are making every attempt to satisfy these requests, but it is becoming increasingly difficult,” Ortiz-Luis averred.
“Some requests can be satisfied within a relatively short time,” he noted. “For cargo that can be fitted onto a flat rack aboard a container ship, we can move this kind of cargo relatively quickly. For truly massive cargo like a 100-ton turbine, we may have to arrange transportation months in advance,” he stressed.
Commenting on this demand-supply imbalance, Ortiz-Luis stated, “I do not expect any genuine improvement in the foreseeable future. Indeed, it may get worse,” he warned.
On the demand side, the DGX executive noted that nations like China and India are moving quickly to industrialize. “Middle Eastern nations like Iraq and Lebanon are being financed with billions of dollars in reconstruction aid to rebuild their war ravaged infrastructures,” he stated.
“On the supply side, one third of break bulk vessels are more than twenty five years old and technically ready for the scrap heap. “Few new ships of this type are being rebuilt to replace the old ones,” Ortiz-Luis continued.
“That is why I am urging DGX customers not to wait; to act now,” emphasized the project cargo specialist. “Ensure that your cargo is loaded on time for scheduled arrival to its destination,” Ike Ortiz-Luis concluded.