SOUTH Korea's 32 ocean shipping companies will need about US$2.5 billion next year to expand their fleets, according to sources at Korea Shipowners' Association. The figure is nearly double the amount the companies spent on fleet expansion this year. The companies plan to add 120 vessels, totalling 2.74 million gross tonnes (gt), next year. The plan calls for building 66 vessels aggregating 1.85 million gt and importing 54 used ships totalling 890,000 gt, the sources said. Costs for newbuildings would rise from $1 billion this year to $1.8 billion next year, and outlay for importing used vessels from $100 to $700 million, the sources said. Of the newbuildings planned, bulk carriers would top the list with 17, totalling 508,000 gt. Oil tankers totalling 416,000 gt would be ordered, as well as container ships totalling 366,000 gt, ore carriers totalling 306,000 gt and log carriers aggregating 86,000 gt. Second-hand tonnage would include 702,000 gt in bulk carriers, 58,000 gt in general cargo carriers, and 46,000 gt in container ships. Revenues of the 32 companies in the first nine months were estimated at $6.29 billion, up 32.4 per cent from a year earlier, the sources said. Their earnings from export cargoes reached $1.01 billion, up 30.7 per cent from a year ago, while import cargoes earned them $1.84 billion, up 29.6 per cent. Chartered vessels earned $1.4 billion, up 60 per cent, while transshipment cargoes earned $2.05 billion. If the upward trend continues, earnings could top $8.6 billion this year, up from $6.6 billion last year, and exceed $10 billion next year.