South Korea ranked second for a second straight month in April in terms of new shipbuilding orders, falling far short of orders won by Chinese rivals, industry data showed.
In April, Korean shipbuilders secured orders totaling 280,000 compensated gross tons (GCTs) to build seven ships, accounting for 23 percent of orders place around the globe, according to London-based Clarkson Research Services Ltd., the world’s leading provider of data for the shipping and shipbuilding industries.
Chinese shipbuilders bagged 770,000 CGTs in orders to build 28 vessels, or 64 percent of the global orders in total, topping all rivals in the past two months, the data showed. Japan came in third at 60,000 CGTs or three ships.
In April alone, new shipbuilding orders reached 1.21 million CGTs, down from the previous month’s 2.88 million CGTs.
In the first four months of the year, South Korean shipyards bagged orders totaling 2.02 million CGTs or 45 vessels. China topped the list with 3.44 million CGTs, or 140 ships. the data showed.
In terms of order backlog, China came first with 29.96 million CGTs with a 37-percent share, followed by South Korea with 20.98 million CGTs, or 26 percent, and Japan with 13.97 million CGTs or 17 percent.
Korean shipbuilders focused on building high-end ships such as liquefied natural gas carriers, drill ships and oil-exploring offshore facilities, while smaller Chinese rivals have relied on massive sales of low-end ships such as bulk carriers. But the latter have been rapidly catching up with the former technologically in recent years.
Korean shipbuilders such as Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Samsung Heavy Industries Co. and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. have suffered oversupply and low orders amid a slowing global economy after having been hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis.
In the past decade, they have undergone drastic restructuring to streamline themselves and improve their financial status by selling non-core assets, shuttering idling shipyards and reducing workforce and costs.
Analysts say they have bottomed out, but a meaningful rebound has yet to come.