Since multipurpose cargo includes both container and bulk markets, forecasts for dry cargo are made on assessments for both tramp and liner tonnage, said Drewry.
Demand drivers for the breakbulk sector have risen from the lowest levels seen in 2016, with the sole exception being the price of oil, for which forecasts suggest is unlikely to rise over US$55 a barrel for the next few years, according to the report.
The demand for breakbulk commodities and project cargo comes from a wide variety of sources, with drivers originating from crude steel production and oil prices to global GDP and investor confidence, said Drewry, according to American Shipper.
However, many container lines have been dropping problematic cargoes that multipurpose vessels are more suited to carrying, creating a greater market share for project carriers.
"Whilst we believe that 2017 will be slow, the prospects for the second half of the year and into 2018 continue to strengthen and give rise to our optimism for this sector," said Susan Oatway, lead analyst for multipurpose shipping at Drewry.