Estaleiro Atlântico Sul (EAS) is making an effort to ensure its operations beyond 2019, when it is slated to deliver the last ship of an order from Transpetro, the logistics subsidiary of Petrobras. EAS signed last week a memorandum of understanding with South American Tankers Company Navegação (Satco) to build at its shipyards in Ipojuca, Pernambuco, five Suezmax ships. If confirmed, the order should translate into a $1.7 billion contract for EAS through 2022.
The deal includes the possibility that ships build for Satco can be later leased to Petrobras, including Transpetro, today the sole client of EAS. In a statement to Valor, Transpetro said that “regarding the alleged leases [of Satco ships], Transpetro doesn’t have anything plan at the moment.” A person familiar with Petrobras says that building the ship is a “business decision.”
After signing the MOU, EAS started talks to ensure financing for the ships from the Merchant Marine Fund, which offers long-term loans for the shipbuilding industry.
Earlier this year, Transpetro confirmed some orders to EAS but also canceled seven ships with dynamic positioning technology that it was supposed to build. These ships, which can correct deviations caused by the sea and wind, are the ones to be resumed for the contract with Satco, which would then register as a Brazilian navigation company (EBN).
Legislation allows EBNs to import foreign flagged ships to operate in Brazil as long as it’s building other ships in domestic shipyards. This rule allows Satco to later expand its operating fleet in Brazil.
Market sources say Satco is controlled by Singapore-based EPS. They say that going with ship leases – instead of investing directly in building them – is interesting for Petrobras because it guarantees transportation capacity but clears the investments from its balance sheet.
Source: Francisco Góes / Valor