Fresh from sealing funds this week from newly incorporated state vehicle Korea Ocean Business Corp, H-Line Shipping has wasted no time rushing to a local yard to order ships.
H-Line, owned by local private equity firm Hahn & Co, has ordered two LNG-powered 180,000 dwt capesizes at Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries costing a total of $123.8m. The two ships will deliver in 2021 and will deliver iron ore from Australia to South Korea, according to the nation’s ocean ministry.
This week the Korean minister for the oceans came out heavily in favour of local yards pursuing LNG-powered ship orders.
Korea Ocean Business Corp, founded in July this year, has been handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in the past week to get local lines to order ships on home soil.
South Korea’s government funding of its hard-pressed lines and yards has provoked stern rebukes from Europe. Last Friday, SEA Europe and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the trade associations representing respectively European shipbuilding and maritime equipment and European shipowners, issued a strong joint statement against Seoul.
ECSA secretary general Martin Dorsman commented: “The South Korean reform plan is greatly concerning for the European shipowners and shipbuilding industry. These measures create an uneven playing field, hamper the free and equal access to international maritime transport and contribute to the global overcapacity. Part of this plan is also the support to secure stable cargoes for Korean flagged vessels, which is a flag reservation measure of a particularly protectionist character. At a time that protectionist trends are rising, we ask Europe to send a strong message in support of free, fair and rules-based trade.”