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Live From Marintec China 2013
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Birger Myklebust, vice president, merchant vessel segment, ABB

Chinese shipyards catching up in quality race: ABB

Chinese shipyards are catching up in the quality race on shipbuilding, in particular on the more specialised vessels for the booming offshore marine market, according to ABB, power and automation technology group.

Birger Myklebust, vice president, merchant vessel segment, ABB, noted that shipbuilders in China are undergoing a “learning curve” that would enable them to emerge stronger compared to two years ago.

“After the global financial crisis, some Chinese yards took on more jobs than they could handle, hence the quality of their completed vessels was not very good,” Myklebust told reporters at the Marintec China 2013 in Shanghai on Tuesday.

“But there is no doubt that China will become a major shipbuilding nation, probably stronger than South Korea and Japan, as they picked themselves up by going through the learning curve,” he said.

In the past 12 months, Singapore and South Korea have taken the bulk of orders for offshore units, but some stronger Chinese yards have also managed to win significant orders for offshore supply vessels and jack-up rigs, he added.

“In the next few years, more complex offshore vessels will be built in China,” he said.

While ABB has always been heavily involved in the offshore market, increasing demands by owners wanting higher specification conventional vessels have also encouraged ABB to sniff out for opportunities in the traditional shipping sector.

Due to the challenges of higher fuel costs and stricter environmental regulations, owners are no longer looking to build the simpler models of containerships or dry bulk carriers, Myklebust said.

“The traditional basic tonnages now need value-added and more complex products and solutions to be fuel efficient and environmentally-friendly,” he said.

Last month, ABB won over $23m worth of orders to provide waste heat recovery systems to 14 containerships or 8,800 teu, a testament to higher requirements by conventional shipowners.

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