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Korean shipbuilders slide to 2nd place after China in November orders

HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering's liquefied carbon dioxide carrier

Posted on December 6, 2023

South Korean shipbuilders slid to second place in new shipbuilding orders last month, yielding the top spot back to their Chinese rivals.

According to market research firm Clarksons Research, the global shipbuilding industry saw a total of 1.59 million compensated gross tonnage (CGT) worth of new orders in November, down 53% from a year ago.

CGT measures the amount of work required to construct ships.

China won 920,000 CGT, or 58% of the total in November 2023. That was equivalent to 59 vessels.

Korea came in second with 570,000 CGT, or 36% of the total, equivalent to 15 ships.

Korean shipbuilders were pushed down to second place just one month after they took the top post.

Hanwha Ocean’s duel-fuel VLCC

In October, Korea beat China to win the most shipbuilding orders for the first time in three months.

In the first 11 months of the year, global new shipbuilding orders reached 38.09 million CGT, down 20% from the year-earlier period.

China ranked top with 22.09 million CGT, or 973 ships, followed by Korea with 9.63 million CGT, or 191 vessels.


Korea’s Big Three shipbuilders – HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co. (HD KSOE), Hanwha Ocean Co. and Samsung Heavy Industries Co. – have focused on high-value-added ships, although they lag behind their Chinese rivals in the total number of ships ordered.

Order backlogs remained heavy in November.

A Samsung Heavy Industries’ container ship

China had 60.47 million CGT of undelivered ships at the end of November, or 48% of the total backlog of 125.4 million CGT worldwide. Korea had a backlog of 39.54 million CGT, or 32% of the total.

The Newbuilding Price Index measured by Clarksons rose to 176.61 points in November, up by 14.92 points from a year earlier.

The price of 174,000-cubic-meter LNG carriers was at $265 million on average, unchanged from the previous month. The average price of very-large-size crude carriers (VLCCs) also stood pat at $128 million. The price of very large container ships remained the same at $233 million.


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