Three shipyards in Brazil will benefit from a US$740M newbuilding spree as a result of the conclusion of Round 7 of the Prorefam scheme initiated by Petrobras, the state-controlled oil giant in the South American country.
A total of 11 sophisticated Offshore Support Vessels (OSVs) will be built by Bram Offshore (party of the Edison Chouest shipping group) and Companhia Brasileira de Offshore (CBO), which was bought from the Fischer family by two private equity funds (Grupo P2 and Vinci Partners) plus BNDESPar (part of the investment bank) back in 2013.
Under Prorefam (the plan to renew the Brazilian Offshore Support Vessel fleet), Bram has signed long term charter contracts with Petrobras on condition that they build – in Brazilian yards – eight Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) 4500s, and CBO have a similar deal to build one PSV 4500 and two Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) 1800s.
Bram will build its eight PSVs at its own shipyard, Navship, in Navegantes, which is part of the Itajai Port Complex, in the southern state of Santa Catarina.
Meanwhile, CBO will build its allocation from Round 7 and from Round 6, announced earlier in 2014, at two shipyards, both owned by the CBO group of companies. The two investment funds previously owned and operated the Oceana shipyard in Itajai.
Ronaldo Lima, a director for Rio de Janeiro based CBO, told The Marine Professional that the new orders emanating from Round 6 – for two PSV 4500s and three AHTS 18,000s – will be built at the group's Oceana shipyard in Itajai, and the three from Round 7 – for one PSV 4500 and two AHTS 18,000s – will be constructed at the Alianca Shipyard in Niteroi.
He said: "Last year was a very good one for us as we won new orders in both the sixth and seventh rounds of Prorefam. After some time spent looking at options we have decided to build the first batch at the Oceana Shipyard in Santa Catarina and the second batch at our older Alianca Shipyard."
The current Prorefam is the third long-term plan of its kind and was launched in 2008 with the goal of seeing Petrobras charter in 146 vessels– averaging around US$55M each – in seven rounds (six of 20 and one of 21) by the end of 2014, but the unpredictability of the market and of Petrobras's management saw most rounds dishing out far less than that to eventually leave a shortfall.
Despite various pronouncements from Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff, and the head of Petrobras, Maria das Gracas Silva Foster - during the run-up to the Presidential elections in October and November – that the target would be met, it fell short in the end, by some 25 OSVs.
In all, the program has seen charter contracts signed for 121, of which 34 are already in operation and 87 are either under construction or waiting for contracted OSV operators to sign final contracts with shipyards.
Round 7 was supposed to incorporate the final 36, but Petrobras announced only five only to boost up to 11 at the last minute.
A Petrobras spokesperson said that Round 8 will be launched before the end of February.