The stage was set for one of the biggest merchant shipbuilding orders in history this week with Qatar signing initial agreements with South Korean yards for around 100 liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers costing more than US$19.2 billion. The deals were not firm newbuilding orders but provide a welcome sign of major new activity in the world shipbuilding market after the coronavirus crisis. Orders for tankers for Africa were also placed in Korea. Chinese yards confirmed orders including for container feeder ships, specialised LNG vessels and multi-purpose freighters. A project to order large passenger/railway ferries in New Zealand moved forward. But overall South Korean shipyards expect a poor second half of 2020 as the coronavirus crisis damages the global economy.