South Korean shipbuilders secured 10.88 million compensated gross tons (CGTs) in new orders in the first half of 2021, the highest volume in 13 years, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said July 12, which industry participants said was driving demand for steel plate.
Citing data from UK-based shipping information provider Clarkson Research Services, the ministry said South Korea’s orders accounted for about 44.4% of global orders for 24.52 million CGT in H1.
South Korea’s orders were up from 1.32 million CGT in H1 2020 and 3.74 million CGT in H1 2019, although the year-on-year spike was due largely to a low base in H1 2020, when the shipbuilding industry was significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, when compared with the pre-pandemic H1 2019, orders in H1 2021 were still almost three times higher.
The increases were supported by South Korean shipbuilders winning most of the orders globally for the most high-value ships such as LNG carriers, container ships and very large crude carriers.
For LNG carriers, the shipbuilders secured all 16 of the new orders globally for such ships, 81 of the 154 orders for container ships, and 27 of the 31 for VLCCs.
The ministry expects new orders, both globally and locally, to support the domestic shipbuilding industry in the second half of 2021, singling out demand from Qatar Petroleum.
QP in June 2020 signed three agreements with South Korean shipyards to reserve newbuild slots for over 100 LNG tankers at a combined cost of almost $19 billion, both to support its North Field gas expansion projects and its future LNG carrier fleet requirements, S&P Global Platts reported earlier.
The increase in new orders also supports South Korean steelmakers such as POSCO, whose largest customers for steel plates include shipbuilders. POSCO sold about 4.77 million mt of steel plates in 2020, which accounted for 16.3% of its overall steel product sales in the year.