South Korea edged China for the first time in three months to recapture the No. 1 spot in global shipbuilding orders, industry data showed Tuesday.
In May, local shipyards, led by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., won orders totaling 640,000 compensated gross tons (GCTs) to build 16 ships, accounting for 60 percent of orders placed 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 270,000 CGTs in orders to build eight vessels, accounting for 26 percent of the global orders, the data showed. Japan came in third with 60,000 CGTs for three ships.
With the global shipping industry taking a hit from the on-going U.S.-China trade dispute, new shipbuilding orders in the first five months of the year dropped 38 percent from a year earlier to 9.41 million CGTs.
In May alone, new shipbuilding orders reached 1.06 million CGTs, also sharply down from the previous month’s 1.44 million CGTs.
In the first five months of the year, South Korean shipbuilders bagged orders totaling 2.83 million CGTs for 63 vessels, with a 30 percent market share. China topped the list with 4.06 million CGTs for 166 ships, with a 43 percent share, the data showed.
In terms of order backlog, China also came in first with 29.47 million CGTs for a 37 percent share, followed by South Korea with 21.12 million CGTs, or 26 percent, and Japan with 14.09 million CGTs, or 18 percent, according to Clarkson.
South Korean shipbuilders have been focusing on building high-end ships, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, drill ships and offshore facilities, while smaller Chinese rivals have relied on low-end ships, such as bulk carriers.
Local analysts expect South Korea’s major shipbuilders may see big improvements in their LNG carrier orders in the second half of the year or next year as shippers are likely to place massive orders for oil and gas projects in Qatar and Mozambique.