Brazil Offshore Vessels: Year in Review

As the year comes to a close it is interesting to examine some of the latest developments in the offshore and maritime markets in Brazil. Data from National Union of Marine and Offshore Construction and Repair Industry (SINAVAL) shows a number of significant developments that took place in the second semester of 2018.

The Program for the Renewal of the Offshore Support Vessel Fleet (Prorefam), was established in 2000. By extensive use of Merchant Marine Fund (FMM) resources, the project attained significant growth for the the local offshore support vessel (OSV) industry, while consolidating the Brazilian flag fleet and securing significant foreign exchange savings. No less than 210 OSVs were built by Brazilian shipyards between 2002 and 2018 – 85 percent built with FMM resources.

However, not all is rosy, as the Prorefam project has recently had one-third of its orders canceled.

Petrobras has only 10 OSVs to receive through the program. Of the 121 vessels chartered in the Petrobras offshore support fleet renewal program, almost one-third (38) had a contract canceled. It has already been confirmed this year that Brasil Supply was unable to deliver vessels contracted by Petrobras due to financial difficulties. In addition to four platform supply vessels (PSV) for Brasil Supply, there are eight vessels in the Galaxia Marítima orderbook, six from Asgaard, six from Astromarítima, four from Safe Supply, three from Geonavigation, two from Bram Offshore, two from Oceanpact and three from Bravante – including oil spill response vessel (OSRV) Mar Limpo III, which has been delivered.

In all, 19 PSVs, 17 OSRVs and two anchor handling tug supply vessels (AHTS) were de-contracted, while 49 PSVs, 13 AHTSs and 11 OSRVs were delivered and are currently operating for Petrobras. Only 10 vessels – all chartered in the seventh round of Prorefam in 2014 – are under construction: eight Bram Offshore PSVs due in 2022, and two CBO AHTSs scheduled for delivery in September and November of this year. The information was obtained via the Law of Access to Information (LAI) and the press office of Petrobras.

Increased participation of foreign vessels to support platform anchoring operations fell from 73 percent to 27 percent in one year. The fleet of vessels supporting anchor handling operations in Brazil is increasingly flagged domestically. Between July 2017 and the same month of this year, 14 foreign-flagged units left the country, reducing their participation – as mentioned above, in the total fleet of type boats in Brazilian waters. Four of the foreign AHTSs that left for other markets in the period are from Maersk. The others include two vessels from Astromarítima, and one vessel each from Asso Marítima, Deep Sea, Farstad, Finarge, Galáxia, Maré Alta and OSM.

(Photo: SINAVAL)

Today Norwegian firm DOF is responsible for the largest fleet of AHTSs in Brazil, with 11 units, one of which is an international flag vessel. Following are Bram / Alfanave with 10 vessels, CBO and Farstad with six vessels each, Bourbon, Finarge and Maersk with three vessels each, Farol with two and Asso Marítima and Marlin with one each. The "escape" of foreign ships follows the fall of the offshore support fleet in the country in recent years, since Brazilian vessels have a preference in hiring. In the analyzed period, the proportion of foreign vessels in Brazil decreased by 35 percent, falling from 69 to 45 units. Other classes of vessels that have experienced significant reductions in foreigners between 2017 and 2018 include remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) support vessels (RSV), OSRVs and pipe laying support vessels (PLSV).

An increase of 70 percent has been agreed for the shipbuilding budget in 2019. The Board of Directors of the Merchant Marine Fund (CDFMM) approved the fund’s budget proposal for 2019. For shipbuilding, R$6.350 billion (around US$1.629 billion) will be allocated, up 70 percent over the budget approved for this year. The general total expected for 2019, including costing, contingency reserves and reimbursements, will be to the tune of R$6.988 billion (around US$1.792, billion), 61 percent more than the amount set for 2018. The CDFMM has awarded priorities of financial support to Bourbon Offshore, Bram Offshore, Marlin Navigation, Magallanes Navigation, Transpetro and Wilson Sons Offshore. In the list of prioritized companies is also the Brazil Basin Drydock Company (BBDC), which will be installed in the Northeast State of Paraíba, with a focus on repairing medium and large ships.

(Photo: SINAVAL)

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