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PIA Press Release

Feature: Shipbuilding, a world-class industry in Cebu

By Minerva BC Newman

Cebu, Philippines (16 October) -- In a recent visit in Cebu, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo christened the Hoegh Manila, the 3rd of the 4 ships that Hoegh Autoliners ordered from Tsuneishi Heavy Industries Cebu Inc. (THICI) based at the West Cebu Industrial Park (WCIP) in Balamban, Cebu.

Hoegh Autoliners, a subsidiary of Leif Hoegh & Co. has commissioned THICI to build four (4) pure care and Track Carriers (PCTCs) with a capacity of about 5,200 cars vessel.

Two of the 4 PCTCs, Hoegh Brasilla and Hoegh Sydney were completed and delivered on March 2007 and August 20, 2007 respectively.

The 3rd vessel, Hoegh Manila that was christened by President Arroyo, is expected to be completed on December this year while the 4th ship, Hoegh Oslo will be launched on November 2007.

Late last year the FBMA Marine Inc, an Aboitiz-owned shipbuilding based in Balamban has signed a contract to build Catamaran ferry for a company in New Caledonia in the South Pacific.

Craig Patrick, sales and marketing manager of FBMA, in a press release said, FBMA will build a 57.80 meter catamaran passenger vehicle ferry that can carry 356 passengers and 10 cars and has a top speed of 32 knots. It will operate on the route connecting Caledonia's capital Noumea to the outlying islands of Iles des Pins, Mare, Lefou and Ouvea.

The Catamaram was designed by BMT Nigel Gee Ltd, a subsidiary of the BMT Group Ltd. for SAS Sudiles of New Caledonia to suit the client's prime need of a fuel-efficient vessel, exceptional sea keeping and passenger comfort considering the challenging sea conditions of the South Pacific, Patrick added.

$200-M investments for shipyard expansion

In March this year, the Aboitiz Group of Companies (that include Metaphil, FBMA Marine Inc and Aboitiz Transport System Corp) inked a memorandum of agreement and forged business partnership with Tsuneishi Group of Japan in its bid to expand its shipbuilding facility at the WCIP in Balamban and putting the Philippines on the map as a world-class boat builder.

Roberto Aboitiz, CEO and chairman of the Metaphil Int'l signed a MOA with THICI for the expansion of its shipyard in Balamban to enable it to build ships with 180,000 dead weight tons (DWT).

The Tsuneishi Cebu, a partner of Tsuneishi Group of Japan and the Aboitiz Group has the capability of building ships of up to 80,000 DWT. It has already built more than 46 bulk ship carriers in Balamban. Bulk carriers are ships that carry heavy materials such as copper, gold, coal, iron and cement.

Aboitiz said, they are mulling on a $200M shipyard expansion which will make it more competitive in the international market that will put Cebu and the Philippines on the world's shipbuilding map.

According to the Aboitiz Group, the expansion of the Balamban shipyard will create an additional estimated employment of 3000 workers such as welders, fitters among others in the western part of Cebu.

Presently, THICI employs about 4000 people that made Balamban one of the booming towns in Cebu, if not in the region.

Balamban Mayor Alex Binghay, in a media interview said, its local government unit has required large companies such as THICI and FBMA Marine Inc. that 70% of their employment are locals from the Balamban area.

Binghay noted that many of Cebu's 3rd district residents have come back to their hometown because of the employment opportunities the shipbuilding industry had created.

Tsuneishi and Metaphil are locators of the West Cebu Industrial Park in Balamban. Tsunesihi started its operation in 1994 and it hopes to be among the top 3 shipbuilding companies in the world by 2010.

Metaphil is the construction company of the Aboitiz Group and is set to invest P500M for the last quarter of this year for its modular fabrication facility in Balamban.

In an interview with a local daily here, Napoleon Pe, Jr. president and COO of Metaphil said that there is a growing global demand for fabricated modular structures which are becoming the new trend in the construction industry today.

The company is involved in steel fabrication, construction, engineering, design and procurement services. It was established in 1978 at Tipolo, Mandaue and it has clients from China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Germany, Australia, and many more.

With the expansion, the facility is expected to produce 1500-2000 tons of fabricated steel per month and will hire additional 1000-1500 local workers. (PIA-Cebu) [top]

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