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HHI to reopen Gunsan shipyard after spike in orders

South Korean shipbuilders’ order books have collectively surged by 113% in 2021, ensuring frenetic activity for shipyards

About 64% of global orders for eco-friendly vessels were won in 2021 by South Korean shipbuilders, but the country’s president Moon Jae-in wants to raise this figure further to 75% by 2030

HYUNDAI Heavy Industries is to reopen its Gunsan shipyard in South Korea to cope with the booming shipbuilding market.

The company mothballed the shipbuilding complex in 2017 following a shipbuilding industry recession.

The decision has been reversed after South Korean shipbuilders won orders of 17.5m compensated gross tonnage in 2021, an increase of 113% on the previous year’s level.

The Gunsan complex will resume operations in phases from January 2023. “We will sort out the details and announce them later,” an HHI spokesman said.

HHI chief executive Han Young-seuk said the company would co-operate with the central and local governments to ensure the success of the shipyard’s reopening.

“After finishing preparatory works by the end of this year, we will hire 750 workers to produce 100,000 tonnes of blocks for large containerships annually, starting in 2023,” he was cited by the Korea Times as saying.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised the decision and said Gunsan would make a vital contribution to the country’s shipping sector.

“Once the Gunsan shipyard starts producing blocks for liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas-fuelled vessels, it will further increase our country's market share in manufacturing environment-friendly ships, where we have overwhelmed competitors,” he said.

Government data show that in 2021, South Korean shipbuilders won 64% of global orders of eco-friendly vessels during the year, up from 62% in 2020 and up from 57% in 2019. President Moon said South Korea wants to raise its global market share of this vessel type to 75% by 2030.

This goal will be achieved through various ways, notably by improving core technologies for low-carbon vessels and gearing up for the onset of zero-carbon vessels, specifically those powered by hydrogen and ammonia, he said.

HHI will be supported by the local governments of North Jeolla Province and Gunsan in its planned reopening of its Gunsan shipyard. This will mainly come in the form financing of the hiring of workers, support for HHI’s subcontractors and operation of buses to the shipyard.

Part of HHI’s maritime logistics costs will also be covered by the local governments for three years.

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