HHI's orders hit their highest point since 2007 this year
The growing popularity of fuel-saving vessels is providing a boost to the South Korean shipbuilding industry, who say they are "critical" to cutting ship opererators costs, Korea JoongAng Daily reports.
"Eco-ship is a global trend as environment regulation gets strengthened and is a critical way that shippers can cut costs," said Park Moo-hyun, an analyst at E-Trade Securities.
"Chinese shipbuilders can get more orders based solely on price competitiveness at present, but Korean companies have better fuel-efficient technology and will still be ahead of them."
Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has made $24.3 billion in contracts this year, the second-largest ever for the company, whose peak was $25.8 billion in 2007.
"With rising demand for fuel efficient vessels and large carriers, our orders this year rose around container carriers," said a HHI spokesman.
"Gas carrier orders also went up on expectations of increasing of shale gas production."
Park Moo-hyun, Analyst, E-Trade Securities
Eco-ship is a global trend as environment regulation gets strengthened
The nation's big three shipbuilders, HHI, Samsung Heavy Industries (Samsung) and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) are expected to reach $50 billion in combined orders this year, for the first time since 2007.
The companies had total orders of $68.5 billion in 2007, but only $37.4 billion last year.
In another potential good sign for the shipbuilding industry, "younger" ships are being dismantled this year, with the average age of ships taken out of service falling to 27.1 years from 27.9 years in 2012.
Overall, dismantling in Q3 was down 24 percent from the same period last year, to 33.4 million deadweight tonnes (dwt), but that was almost three times the average volume between 2005 and 2008.
Japan and China have been moving to compete with Korea on the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, which require more technical competency than many other ships.