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S. Korea's plant export orders reach record US$25.4 bln in 2006 

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean contractors won a record US$25.4 billion worth of foreign industrial plant orders in 2006, a government report said Monday.

The number represents a 60.6 percent jump from the year before and reflects a surge in orders for oil, gas and petrochemical plants and related infrastructure, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said.

"The sharp annual increase comes as oil rich countries are using extra money earned from high prices to build industrial facilities," said Cha Dong-hyung, head of the export and import division at the ministry. The average price of Dubai brand oil reached $61.90 per barrel last year from $49.37 the year before.

He said the increase also reflected the global competitiveness of local construction and engineering companies, and made plant exports a viable export industry.

Large scale maritime plant orders accounted for 41 percent of orders won or $10.6 billion, followed by petrochemical plants and power generation plants at 19 percent and 18 percent of the total respectively, Cha said.

By region, oil rich Middle East countries placed 35 percent of all orders won with Europe accounting for 19 percent.

"A noteworthy development is the fact that while South Korean contractors won orders exceeding 1 billion from only four countries in the Middle East, this has increased to 10 (countries)," the official said. He said the size of orders won in Norway and the United States exceeded those for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In addition, orders won by small- and medium- size construction companies in 2006 soared 198 percent to 122 deals totaling $1.51 billion from 92 orders totaling $507 million the previous year. Most of these projects are worth less than $50 million.

For 2007, the ministry said plant export orders may reach $27.0 billion with maritime infrastructure facilities, liquified natural gas and saltwater desalination facilities leading the growth.



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