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Korea unveils ambitious plan on eco-ships and LNG bunkering

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South Korea has announced an ambitious plan to boost its shipbuilding industry by promoting the production of environmentally-friendly ships and LNG bunkering, according to the ministry of trade, industry and energy (MOTIE).

The grand plan involves the Korean government ordering 140 LNG ships worth KRW1trn ($886m) from the country’s small and mid-sized shipbuilders by 2025, and providing those yards with KRW1.7trn in financial aid. The breakdown of the KRW1.7trn financial aid includes extension of maturity guarantees worth KRW1trn and financial support worth KRW700bn.

The government will also pump in KRW2.8trn to develop LNG bunkering infrastructure in conjunction with the construction of those LNG-powered ships.

There is also a forward-looking plan to enhance future competitiveness by developing hydrogen-powered ships and autonomous vessels.

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The MOTIE stated that despite an increase in orders for newbuilds, the smaller shipyards and equipment makers are still struggling and they have requested for government measures to be implemented to help them stay afloat.

The ministry also noted that in order for the country’s small and mid-sized shipbuilders to set themselves apart from competition in China and Japan, they need to be first movers in the eco-friendly shipbuilding market.

Part of the plan is to strengthen the design capacity of small to mid-sized shipyards, support them in establishing overseas bases so as to expand their newbuild orders, and introduce a so-called Smart K-yard scheme to research on smart shipping.

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