• April 23-25, 2025 | Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Louisiana

Susan Oatway FICS

Journal of Commerce by S&P Global

Senior Research Analyst-Breakbulk and Project Shipping

Susan is a highly experienced research analyst who, in January 2023, joined the Journal of Commerce at S&P Global Inc as a research analyst for multipurpose and project shipping. Her focus is on the multipurpose, breakbulk, project cargo, and related shipping markets, including roll-on, roll-off and refrigerated shipping.

Susan Oatway is a highly experienced consultant who is fully conversant with all aspects of the multipurpose and dry bulk shipping market. For almost 20 years she was the principal author of Drewry’s Multipurpose and Heavy Lift publications. She has extensive consultancy experience working for carriers/shipping lines, financial intermediaries and other key industry stakeholders.

She is regularly asked to share her market knowledge and insights at leading industry conferences and lectures on dry bulk chartering for the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS). She was the first female International Chairman at the ICS from 2019 to 2021 and remains a Fellow of the Institute.

Sessions With Susan Oatway FICS

Thursday, 25 April

  • 09:30am - 10:00am (CST) / 25/apr/2024 02:30 pm - 25/apr/2024 03:00 pm

    Global Shipping Outlook: A Conversation with the Journal of Commerce's Susan Oatway and Peter Tirschwell

    As 2024 opened, supply chain disruptions due to attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and drought conditions in the Panama Canal threatened the rate stability that shippers were hoping for as 2023 ended. Will the attacks in the Red Sea end? Will conflict widen? Understanding the market as the year develops will be crucial. The multipurpose vessel fleet still awaits the long-heralded boost in cargo demand driven by renewables and the drive for energy security, even as fleet development remains modest at best. In contrast, the container shipping market is scheduled to receive a further 2 million TEU of new capacity this year, after 2 million TEU arrived in 2023, and the same is due in 2025. While some of this new capacity will be absorbed by additional transit times around the Cape of Good Hope, the container fleet is expected to grow approximately 6% this year versus 2% growth in port throughput. This increase in container capacity, and thus in competition for breakbulk cargoes, had given shippers reason for rate-related optimism. By April, we will know much more about the effects of re-routing on trade lanes, spot prices and capacity for both sectors — and if and how they are interacting.

  • 10:00am - 10:45am (CST) / 25/apr/2024 03:00 pm - 25/apr/2024 03:45 pm

    Cargo and Competition: No More Captives

    The supply chain chaos driven by COVID taught, or retaught, shippers of all types this lesson: Few cargoes are confined to specific ship types or transportation modes. Container cargoes can be bagged or palletized; containers can be moved on multipurpose ships; ro-ro shipments can move on bulkers. Although containers have quickly reabsorbed much of the spillover cargo seen during the COVID market, shippers say they are not abandoning what they’ve learned. At the same time, multipurpose and heavy-lift shipbuilding programs are replacing older vessels with newly designed, more efficient ships but adding little overall capacity, even as project cargo demand is expected to rise thanks to global drives toward energy security and decarbonization. Beyond the heaviest, largest, or most complex cargoes restricted to specialized ships, much of the coming cargo is mode-malleable, and the non-MPV/HL fleet is positioning itself to participate in this market. Everyone wants a piece of the general cargo pie. What should cargo shippers expect from these reconfigurations? How can they take advantage, and what realities might they run up against? This session, led by Journal of Commerce Research Analyst Susan Oatway, will discuss expected demand and how this is shaping shipbuilding decisions and, potentially, cargo flows. 
  • 11:15am - 11:45am (CST) / 25/apr/2024 04:15 pm - 25/apr/2024 04:45 pm

    Breakbulk Academy: Breakbulk, Box, Bulk, or Air -- Choosing the Best Mode

    Working out which mode of transportation offers cargo owners the best, most efficient deal with the least risk on any given trade route can be a major pain point for breakbulk shippers. With current rates for containers back having retreated to pre-COVID levels, one might assume that containerized transportation will always be the first choice. However, breakbulk shippers have many factors to contend with, including cargo that must move on widely varying trade routes in widely varying amounts, schedule-sensitive cargo, and dealing with natural and geopolitical complications that are out of their control. Diversification of transportation modes to spread costs and risk is a lesson many learned, or re-learned, during the COVID market. What drives the decision to ship breakbulk or containerized? How does the logistics team ensure that their colleagues understand these complicated supply chain considerations and costs? And how do they plan and manage risk in an increasingly uncertain world? This session will explore the key choices and factors breakbulk shippers face when deciding which mode of transportation to use.

  • 04:15pm - 05:00pm (CST) / 25/apr/2024 09:15 pm - 25/apr/2024 10:00 pm

    Journal of Commerce Scorecard: Plotting a Path to a Breakbulk Index

    The fragmented nature of project and breakbulk cargo logistics, which includes multiple cargo streams and vessel types and is dominated by tramp trading patterns that span the globe, renders the sector opaque and difficult to grasp for even the most sophisticated industry members. Indices based on reports from vessel operators, owners, and brokers provide valuable information but are focused on a single aspect of this market, the carriers’ perspective. The Journal of Commerce is exploring ideas for a new breakbulk index, the Breakbulk Logistics Managers Index (BLMI), which would be based on anonymized reporting from the cargo owner/controller perspective and constructed similarly to the PMI indices created by S&P Global, our parent company. These track direction of change for a range of indicators key to a given sector. It will not be possible to create this index without cooperation and assistance from the breakbulk industry. In this session, senior research analyst Susan Oatway and senior editor Janet Nodar will explain the index concept, discuss it in depth with our shipper representatives, and take questions from the audience. 

Friday, 26 April

  • 08:45am - 09:00am (CST) / 26/apr/2024 01:45 pm - 26/apr/2024 02:00 pm
  • 10:50am - 11:30am (CST) / 26/apr/2024 03:50 pm - 26/apr/2024 04:30 pm

    Adventures in Ro-Ro: Demand, Congestion, and Tight Capacity

    Thanks to a booming post-COVID automotive market and soaring demand for high-and-heavy rolling stock, roll-on, roll-off vessel operators have seen charter rates rise by more than 70% since early 2022 even as global shipping indices for the multipurpose and container sector have slipped by 30% and 80%, respectively, from their COVID market highs. Ro-ro carriers enjoy the fruits of transporting high-paying project and breakbulk cargo, but demand for contracted automotive and high-and-heavy capacity has been so strong that there is virtually no spot capacity available, and a portion of wheeled cargo has spilled over to breakbulk, bulk, and container carriers. Congestion, in some cases heightened by stringent quarantine regimes, have only exacerbated the situation. What options can breakbulk shippers and logistics service providers expect from the ro-ro sector? The ro-ro orderbook has jumped from 80 vessels in late 2022 to more than 100 today. Will this increased capacity ease the crunch, allowing ro-ro to reprise its role as a “swing” provider of breakbulk space, or will the sector primarily be replacing and modernizing existing capacity? This session will analyze the current and expected ro-ro sector and market and the implications for high-and-heavy, breakbulk, and project cargo shippers. 
  • 01:15pm - 01:20pm (CST) / 26/apr/2024 06:15 pm - 26/apr/2024 06:20 pm