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Shipbuilders bag orders for LNG carriers, tankers

Korea’s two leading shipbuilders are upping the ante for natural gas carriers with new orders as they scramble for a bigger slice in the lucrative market amid a looming industry slowdown.

Hyundai Heavy Industries said Tuesday it has won orders worth $1.1 billion in total to build four liquefied natural gas carriers and an LNG storage vessel along with its affiliates from Europe.

The shipbuilder said it has clinched a deal for one LNG floating storage and regasification unit with Norway’s Hoegh. It will also craft two LNG carriers for an unidentified European company.

Affiliate Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries secured a separate contract with Norway-based Golar LNG for two LNG carriers with options for two additional ships.

The vessels are expected be delivered between the second quarter of 2014 and the first half of 2015, Hyundai Heavy said in a statement.

On the same day, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding also announced its new projects to build six tankers and two LNG carriers for European firms, worth a combined 682.2 billion won ($607 million).

In a 447 billion won deal with Sovcomflot of Russia, the shipbuilder will construct two LNG carriers by 2015.

The Changwon-based company also signed a 236 billion won contract with John Fredriksen Group, a Norwegian shipping firm, to deliver six tankers by November 2013.

Both Hyundai Heavy and STX have been shoring up their charges into the LNG carrier market as competition heats up at home and with China for the top spot in the global shipbuilding industry.

Korea retook the lead last year from China thanks to upbeat orders for high-tech, value-added products, but the industry faces an uphill battle this year as a global financial turmoil is likely dampen demand.

The two countries are also competing to take over Gaztransport & Technigaz, a French firm specialized in LNG storage technology for ships.

Hyundai Heavy aims to fetch $30.6 billion in orders and 27.5 trillion won in sales this year, up about 20 percent and 10 percent from 2011.

STX Group set its 2012 target at 43 trillion won in orders and 33 trillion won in revenues, up 14 percent and 43 percent from last year. The firm said it has so far reached $900 million in orders so far through 15 projects.

By Shin Hyon-hee  (