Shipbuilders, long suffering from a downturn in the shipping market that led to a severe dearth of new container ship orders, are looking to find niches. According to shipbuilding sources on October 5, Samsung Heavy Industries and STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, as well as China’s Avic Dingheng Shipbuilding, are currently bidding for a 6,500-ton liquefied natural gas bunkering ship commissioned by Shell.
As the winner of the order is likely to get an additional order for two ships of the identical design, plus a 3,000-ton bunkering vessel, the bidders are fiercely competing to land the deal. Earlier in July this year, Hanjin Heavy Industries had won an order of two 5,100-ton LNG bunkering ships from Japan’s NYK Line (Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha) at the cost of US$100 million.
Korean shipbuilders are eyeing other specialty ships such as the icebreaker LNG carrier, icebreaker oil tanker, and very large ethane carrier. For example, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering won the Russia Yamal megaproject to supply up to 16 icebreaker LNG ships in March this year. The project calls for developing 16.5-million-ton natural gas fields in the Yamal Peninsula in northwestern Siberia.
In July, Samsung Heavy Industries clinched a deal to deliver three icebreaker oil tankers for Russia’s state-run Sovcomflot, as well as six 88,000-ton ethane carriers from India’s Reliance Industries.
A shipbuilding industry official said, “As the United States steps up the production of shale gas, it is likely the demand for specialty ships such as LNG carriers, LNG bunkering ships, and ethane carriers will rise rapidly.”