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Petrobras plans to build at home

Petrobras plans to build at home
Petrobras may not, after all, place planned huge orders for deepwater drilling units with Far East yards. Rather, they could be built in Brazil itself now that domestic yards are gearing up for such work.

Petrobras may not, after all, place planned huge orders for deepwater drilling units with Far East yards. Rather, they could be built in Brazil itself now that domestic yards are gearing up for such work.

Such is the concern among the Asian yards that Daewoo, of South Korea, is already jockeying for a position in one of the Brazilian yards.

And Keppel FELS, of Singapore, is worried that conventional shipyards starved of orders for merchant vessels will muscle in on the lucrative rig-building market.

Both moves will almost certainly help drive down the cost of rig new-builds, perhaps dramatically as the backlog of existing orders starts to shrink as deliveries are made and, in some instances, new-build contracts are being cancelled or deferred.

Cheaper rigs could tempt drilling contractors and oil companies into placing further orders, and this could, in turn, drive day rates for premium rigs down, though currently this market segment is very buoyant.

The Brazilian development is the one that currently worries the Asian yards the most as Petrobras is planning a massive build programme – the largest ever for deepwater tonnage.

Having been in East Asia, window shopping at companies such as Samsung Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering and Hyundai Heavy Industries, Petrobras has decided on a patriotic course of action.

Late-July saw the company signal that the 28 deepwater units required for the massive ultra-deepwater pre-salt programme kicked off with the successful Tupi oil discovery would, in fact, be built in Brazil, with deliveries starting in 2012.

According to Seatrade Asia Online (SAO), designers such as Rio de Janeiro-based Projemar are already working up concepts. SAO reported Armando Freigedo Rodrigues, a director for consultancy Aquapor, as saying: “Right now we are seeing strong indications in the market that the Brazilian government and Transpetro are keen to build drillships in Brazil.

“They are complex vessels and these usually are constructed outside of the country, but there is a feeling now that our yards have modernised enough to be able to deliver this level of vessel. They seem ready and willing to win these orders now, which will be bad news for the Asian yards, especially those in Korea.”

The new Atlantico Sul shipyard will shortly be available to start on the programme, and Brazil is planning further new yards.

It happens that Samsung, of South Korea, has a 10% interest in Atlantico Sul shipyard, which is reported to already have $3billion of tanker orders on its books.

Another South Korean yard reported to be stalking Brazilian investment opportunities is Daewoo, plus Singapore’s Keppel FELS already has a significant presence in the shape of Keppel FELS Brasil and BrasFELS, which is regarded as one of the largest and best equipped offshore and marine yards in the Southern Hemisphere.

All told, Petrobras apparently needs more than 240 vessels, including drillships, tankers, production platforms and supply vessels, in the next five or six years.

Given local-content rules, Petrobras requires 70% of its offshore orders to be built in-country.

As a result, Energy believes that UK companies involved in the new-build drilling rig and specialist vessels supply chains should ensure that they step up monitoring of the Brazilian marketplace in readiness to pounce on opportunities.

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