industrial plans-Q1 overseas orders

SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- Overseas orders for South Korea's industrial plants grew slightly in the first quarter on strong demands in Europe, the government said Thursday.

In the three months ended March 31, overseas orders for the country's industrial plants amounted to US$11.8 billion, up 0.7 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The rise marks a turnaround from a 0.3 percent on-year drop in 2012.

"Overseas orders are expected to continue growing in the second quarter on a global economic recovery and high oil prices," the ministry said in a press release.

Orders from European countries jumped over 26 times to $3.78 billion in the January-March period from $136 million a year earlier. Orders from American and African countries, on the other hand, plunged 97.6 percent and 72 percent on-year, respectively.

The ministry said high oil prices drove global development efforts, boosting orders for the country's oil and gas development plants, including storage units and offshore drilling ships, to $3.71 billion in the first quarter, up 137.5 percent from a year earlier.

Orders for power generation and desalination plants also surged 78.8 percent on-year to $2.19 billion.

The ministry forecast the global market for industrial plants to continue growing during the April-June period, noting an end to the political unrest in the Middle East will soon lead to a reconstruction boom.

In the first quarter, orders from the Middle East, previously one of the world's largest markets for South Korean builders, plunged 50.7 percent from a year earlier to $1.8 billion.

"Iraq alone plans to invest $275 billion by 2017 in various reconstruction projects that include construction of power plants and other infrastructures," the ministry said.

The ministry said it also seeks to boost its support for offshore plants, whose global market is expected to grow from $183 billion in 2012 to $230 billion this year, then again to $241 billion in 2014.

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