In March, Petrobras announced the seventh and final round of the fleet renewal plan for offshore support vessels, Prorefam. Created in 2008, the program aims to increase the national share of the Brazilian support vessel fleet and offers special conditions for hiring locally manufactured vessels. Out of the 146 vessels planned by the program, 110 have already been contracted, which accounts for USD 6.7 billion in investments. The deadline for submission of proposals is June 27th, and contracts are expected to be signed by October 30th.
The main challenge of this final round is to contract the remaining Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) units. Before the end of the year, Petrobras aims to contract 36 vessels, mainly AHTS units, which are important to meet Brazil’s demand in deepwaters. However, the average price charged by foreign flagged vessels is still lower than the what the shipbrokers can offer locally, mainly for AHTS 18.000. During the sixth round, CBO was awarded the contract of four AHTS 18.000 by Petrobras at a daily rate of USD 73,000. At that time, Petrobras contracted eight ships (same model) in an international bid at a daily rate of USD 50,000.
In addition to the 4 AHTSs, 19 PSVs were contracted during the sixth round (6 with Asgaard Navegação, 6 with Starnav, 3 with Bram Offshore, 2 with Wilson Sons and 2 with CBO). During the construction phase, local content must comprise 60% of the PSV and OSRV work, while AHTS units require 50%. Operation of the vessels must be 70% locally sourced.
Several oil companies that are present in Brazil today are still shifting from exploration to production phase. Of course it is not a comparison with Petrobras, which still holds a 90% share of the Brazilian market, but there is some expectation about when these companies will start to produce because they will need offshore support vessels, including AHTSs and PSVs.
DOF Brasil sees very positive perspectives for the market due to the scenario of growing production. The company expects to face tough competition especially in the segment of PSVs and low-potence AHTSs. Moreover, DOF Brasil is a major manufacturer of large AHTSs and special vessels. The number of companies competing for those contracts is likely to be limited due to the large investment and specialization that are required in this market niche.