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Japan's Aug vessel orders double on year to 1.53 mil gross tons

Tokyo — Japanese shipbuilders received export orders for a total 1.53 million gross tons across 21 vessels in August, up 100.2% year on year and surging 161.8% from July, and posting the first year-on-year rise since May, Japan Ship Exporters Association data released Thursday showed.

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A JSEA official said the increase may be the start of a rush of orders in the lead-up to the International Maritime Organization's requirements to use lower sulfur fuel from January 2020.

He also noted that while the volume of new orders received in August rose, backlog orders held by shipbuilders at end August fell. "Shipbuilders won't be able to lift their production speed soon, so lower steel consumption by shipbuilders will continue," he said.

Backlog orders for vessel exports held by Japanese shipbuilders stood at 28.08 million gross tons across 502 vessels at end August, down 5% on year.

A Tokyo-based trader said he heard Japanese shipbuilders were currently receiving more inquiries from overseas customers. "We are sure customers are also comparing quotes from shipbuilders in South Korea and China, but we hope they would be attracted to Japanese technologies to correspond to new regulations, and order Japanese vessels," he said.

Ordinary carbon steel orders booked by Japanese shipbuilders totaled 281,000 mt in June, down 8.4% on year and down 4.8% from May, according to latest data from the Japan Iron & Steel Federation.

--Yoko Manabe, yoko.manabe@spglobal.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com