April 4 - Drewry Maritime Research's latest Annual Multipurpose Market Review & Forecast details the state of the multipurpose (MPV) fleet, the demand for the cargo space on those ships and the outlook for the markets they trade in. Project carriers and h

The complexity of the MPV market, given the array of ships that carry the commodities, means it holds a unique position within the shipping industry.

This unique position creates problems for analysts when trying to qualify demand, but Drewry attempts to bring clarity to this by setting clear definitions for the market.

The London-based shipping industry consultant studied the multipurpose sector, and in particular the project cargo arena, in its prolonged emergence from the global recession due to the inherent time lag in much of the cargo demand for this sector. With the sector growing at a faster rate than the container and dry bulk sectors, the recent issues surrounding the embattled Beluga Group are touched on.

Susan Oatway, editor of the report states: "The ships that Beluga has contracted on a charter basis are likely to be released back into the market. But demand levels are such that these vessels will be sought after and are expected to be utilised by other operators."

Competitive threat is the key issue for the multipurpose fleet with it being squeezed by container and dry bulk carriers. This situation is an on-going facet of the sector but Drewry has delved deeper into the competitive analysis to highlight the changing approach of market players.

Drewry has examined in some detail project cargo and the prospect for this driving an increase in demand. Projections suggest growth averaging at least 11 percent per annum to 2015, but container lines, which have already started to position themselves against project carriers, are a developing threat against high and heavy shipping lines.

Order levels for MPVs have reached 28 percent of the current fleet, with a skew towards those with a greater lift capacity, indicating that carriers are looking to niche markets where they can offer specialised services based around the project cargo demand increases.

"Competitive threat is a major concern for the multipurpose sector, but reacting in an innovative manner, which we can see happening already within the project cargo arena, is how carriers are going to capitalise on market conditions. Given the unfolding Japanese crisis there is yet to come a possible demand shift towards the very ships that constitute the multipurpose sector," says Oatway.

Annual Multipurpose Shipping Market Review & Forecast 2011 is published by Drewry Maritime Research. March 2011. Priced from £950.

For further information, please contact Simon Raper, Drewry's marketing executive:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7538 0191

Fax: +44 (0)20 7987 9396

E-mail: raper@drewry.co.uk