The shipbuilding industry is beginning to rebound after two years of being almost paralyzed. (Photo: Shipyards Asenav/FIS)
Gradual recovery for Chilean shipyards
Friday, January 14, 2011, 04:30 (GMT + 9)
The international financial crisis and the emergence of the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus halted the continuation of a five year period of prosperity for the Chilean shipyard sector, when they used to turnover USD 350 million a year.
After two years of almost complete paralysis, little by little, the industry has begun to rebound, with the construction of new vessels.
Today, however, uncertainty is generated by the reduction of fishing quotas, especially mackerel, which influenced the decline in ship orders for companies in the north of the country, reports El Mercurio.
A few years ago, the shipyard industry had a waiting list exceeding 18 months for the construction of boats costing over USD 40 million.
But with the crisis and the ISA virus in the country, companies in the industry pushed for extending the life of their ships. Thus, orders stopped and industry sales fell to just USD 120 million a year.
Asmar, a Naval Shipyard, had 80 per cent of its operations in Talcahuano, a city that was hit by an earthquake in February. This caused losses valued at USD 250 million and severely damaged its productive capacity. In 2010, the company was restricted to completing three pre-tsunami orders.
In the private sector, Carlos Berner, executive director of the Asenav shipyard based in Valdivia, said his business in the last two years was limited to completing the construction of the Stella Australis vessel for Navimag from mid-2009.
But the entrepreneur said that now "the international market has begun to normalize" and his company has orders for five ships, worth USD 40 million.
In addition, the company is negotiating the construction of three vessels: two large oil transports for the Danish company Maersk as well as a fishing vessel, with income thought to reach close to USD 120 million.
If these operations are realized, the Chilean shipyard will cover its production capacity for the next 18 months.
Ascon, one of the six largest shipyards in the country, expects this year to increase the USD 20 million turnover it saw last year by 40 per cent.
Thus, large shipyards project that with the worldwide revival, sales will reach USD 260 million, recovering for lost pace after the crisis.
However, they estimated that sales in the country will be fulfilled within three or four years, when much of the national fleet of fishing boats (about 60 ships) reaches its operational limit and needs replacing.
Furthermore, in the fisheries sector, especially in the north, there is much uncertainty about the drastic reduction of the amount of mackerel, so they do not wish to go into debt with the renewal of their fleet.
By Silvina Corniola
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member ASENAV S.A.