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Korean shipyards’ order backlog hits 12-year low in March

SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) — The order backlog held by South Korean shipbuilders has dropped to the lowest level in 12 years amid the slumping global economy, industry data showed Thursday.

According to the data by global researcher Clarkson Research Services, South Korean shipbuilders had an order backlog totaling 27.59 million compensated gross tons (CGTs) as of end-March, the lowest since March 2004, when the comparable figure was 27.52 million CGTs.

Experts say that the order backlog held by shipyards here will keep them busy for just one or two years.

China came in first with 37.56 million CGTs with Japan ranking third with 21.44 CGTs.

South Korea secured shipbuilding orders to build eight vessels, or 171,000 CGTs, in the first quarter, also marking the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2001, when the comparable figure was 165,000 CGTs.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. and Samsung Heavy Industries Co. have failed to clinch any deals in the January-March period. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. clinched just one order to build petrochemicals-carrying vessels.

Major South Korean shipbuilders have been pushing for restructuring since last year to get over unfavorable business conditions caused by falling demand and ship prices in line with the slowing world economy.

Hit by a protracted slump in oil prices and increased costs, the three shipbuilders racked up a combined loss of 7.7 trillion won (US$6.65 billion) last year, marking the first time for all three of the nation’s largest industry players to register losses.

Market watchers expect their business slump to continue this year as the global shipbuilding industry is unlikely to turn around any time soon.