South Korea with competitive strength in LNG carriers is closing in on China whose No. 1 rank in shipbuilding has shaken this year since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Korean shipbuilders bagged eight new vessel orders of 230,000 compensated gross tonnage (CGT) in May, accounting for 40 percent of the total 27 new orders of 570,000 CGT placed worldwide, according to data from British marine industry tracker Clarkson Research Services on Tuesday.
China still maintained the lead ahead of Korean yards by claiming 47 percent with 13 vessels of 270,000 tons. The gap, however, narrowed down.
Chinese shipbuilders, whose books are filled 85 percent by domestic orders, experienced a 73 percent plunge in May orders from April when they received 38 new orders of 730,000 CGT. Korean builders managed to earn the same number of orders in May.
The Korean share is expected to make a leap since three majors – Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, and Samsung Heavy Industries – early this month signed a capacity reservation pact with Qatar Petroleum. The agreement is for the Qataris company to secure dockyards of the Korean shipbuilders to build more than 100 liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, and this marked the single largest LNG ship contract in history.
In addition, Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering recently won a separate order worth 90 billion won ($75 million) from a European client to build two petrochemical carriers. The deal includes an option to build an additional vessel.
By Won Ho-sup and Cho Jeehyun
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