September 15, 2009
Petrobras plans fleet of "built in Brazil" drillships
Shunning a global shipyard tender process, the executive board of Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras recently approved a plan to charter up to 28 new offshore drilling rigs that will be built in Brazil. The plan, which could start this month, calls for the rigs, which will have increased domesticl content, to be used for exploration in ultra-deep waters, including the pre-salt layer. The rigs would be delivered between 2013 and 2018, initially starting with drillships but possibly later including two semis.
BOOST TO SHIPYARDS
The Petrobras projectwould provide a massive boost to the Brazilian shipbuilding industry, as well as enhancinge local supplier networks. As many as 40,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created after all the orders are placed, according to Petrobras. In order to help shipyards and suppliers enhance their facilities and acquire the technology to build the drill rigs, the Brazilian government is expected to provide a R$4 billion (about $2.18 billion) guarantee for their construction through the Guarantee Fund for Naval Construction.
At least one South Korean shipbuilder expects to get a piece of the action. Samsung Heavy Industries, which recently christened the Petrobras 10000 drillship at its Geoje Shipyard is expecting to transfer the technology for this type of vessel to Brazil's Atlantico Sul Shipyard in which it has a 10 percent stake.
Earlier this month that yard laid the keel for a 150,000-dwt tanker, which will be built by Samsung's technical support, and which will the largest vessel to be built by a Brazilian yard.
The event was attended by Brazilan President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva--who took the opportunity to criticize mining giant Vale for building a series of giant ore carriers in China, rather than Brazil.
Atlantico Sul Shipyard will be the biggest yard in Central and South America. Scheduled to be completed at the end of this year, it will have a 400 m x 73 m building dock and a pair of 1,500-ton Goliath cranes.
NINE FOR STARTERS
In the first phase of its drill rig building plan, Petrobras would charter a minimum of 9 rigs. Seven of these would be drillships, which would be built at a single Brazilian shipyard. Contracting these seven rigs from one shipyard will allow the winning bidder to make the investments that are required in order for it to adjust its infrastructure and secure gains in scale.
The two other units, which may be either drillships or semi-submersibles, will be built separately and may use new technologies that also incorporate concepts that are still new in the market, but which will afford Petrobras great economic and operating benefits.
Under a separate simultaneous process, Petrobras will charter up to four units per company, also to be built in Brazil. Under this alternative, the charterers themselves will be responsible for soliciting rig construction from the shipyards.
Atlantico Sul when completed