Brazilian major Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) reported that construction of the first of four Panamax vessels ordered as part of the Transpetro Fleet Modernization and Expansion Program (Promef) commenced at the Estaleiro Ilha S.A. (Eisa) shipyard. This start-up, celebrated with the cutting of the first steel plate, represents Eisa's debut in the Transpetro Expansion Program (Promef), which has already given a boost to the Mauá and Atlântico Sul shipyards. A total of 49 vessels are to be purchased under the program.
Eisa will build four Panamax-type, 228-meter vessels with capacity of 550,000 barrels. Among the oldest in Brazil, the shipyard has not built a ship for Petrobras since 1997.
The first two vessels ordered from Eisa will be launched in 2012, and the other two in 2013.
The contract with the shipyard, worth R$856 million, will generate up to four thousand jobs at the peak production. "When we said we could start building ships again, people did not believe us. Today, the Brazilian shipbuilding industry has been reborn and already employs 50,000 people," said Transpetro CEO, Sergio Machado, in an address delivered shortly after the cutting of the steel.
Eisa's CEO, Jorge Gonçalves, recalled that the last ship the yard delivered to Petrobras was the Livramento tanker, in 1997. Of the 437 vessels built by Eisa since its inception, 100 were ordered by the state-run company. "Today, after 14 years, we started work on our 101st vessel," he said.
Transpetro's shipbuilding program, one of the central pillars of Brazil’s Growth Acceleration Program (PAC), is playing a key role in the resurgence of the Brazilian shipbuilding industry and is currently responsible for upwards of 15,000 direct jobs. Over the next few years, shipbuilding orders from Petrobras alone are expected to create 40,000 direct and 160,000 indirect jobs.
Of the 49 vessels planned under Promef, a total investment of R$9.6 billion, 41 contracts have already been awarded and eight are at the bidding stage.
Characteristics – Built to an original Brazilian design, these vessels incorporate some novel features: a shallow draft, better suited to the Brazilian port requirements, and a double-lock valve loading system capable of stowing four different products simultaneously.
Transpetro uses Panamax-type vessels to transport crude and the dark oil products, such as fuel oil. In all, 56 thousand metric tons of steel will be used to build the tankers.