South Korea’s fair trade watchdog hits GTT with $11.3m fine

France’s Gaztransport & Technigaz (GTT) has been hit with a €9.5m ($11.3m) fine from the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) today, the latest chapter in a lengthy spat between the world’s top LNG membrane producer and the world’s leading LNG shipbuilding nation. GTT said today it would appeal the fine.

The KFTC ruled that some of GTT’s commercial practices have not complied with Korean competition regulations since 2016.

South Korea’s top shipyards pay GTT a licence fee for using its proprietary membrane containment system on the LNG carriers they build, something that has been the source of much contention for more than a decade.

In a release today, the French company stated: “GTT wishes to emphasize that the licence of the technology and the technical assistance constitute an inseparable offering, which guarantees the integrity of its technologies, and that any separation could be detrimental to the entire LNG carrier industry. The company challenges the rationale of this decision and, upon receipt of the KFTC’s written decision, intends to appeal against it.”

Philippe Berterottière, chairman and CEO of GTT, declared: “We are convinced that our commercial practices comply with the Korean competition rules.”

The more than $10m Korean yards have to pay GTT for each LNG carrier they build forced them to develop their own containment system. The KC-1 LNG tanks, which have been installed on a few ships over the past two years, were developed by Korea Gas Corp, Samsung Heavy Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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