Without new contracts, EAS shipyard may close in 2019

The Atlântico Sul Shipyard (EAS) runs the risk of having to close the doors after mid-2019, when it has finished delivering the ships to its sole client, Transpetro, the Petrobras logistics subsidiary.
“This risk [of paralyzing activities from the end of 2019] is high,” says Harro Burmann, president of EAS. Controlled by Queiroz Galvão and Camargo Corrêa, the shipyard tries to avoid the worst. It has been trying for months to secure new shipbuilding orders with the South American Tanker Company (Satco), a discussion that passes through Petrobras. On another front, the EAS is involved in debt renegotiation with banks. Only to the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), its largest lender, the EAS still owes $ 1.3 billion.

In the evaluation of the EAS, despite all the difficulties, a possible request for judicial recovery is not necessary, although the solution to the crisis has to go through the renegotiation of debts with the creditors. If you consider BNDES, Banco do Brasil and private banks (Bradesco and Santander), EAS has debts of R $ 352 million maturing this year. On the market, however, the view of experts is that if the yard can not renew its portfolio and not renegotiate its debt directly with creditors, judicial recovery may end up being an inevitable path.

Burmann chose not to talk about it. He said that for more than a year he has tried to make viable construction contracts between EAS and Satco involving 13 vessels, a $ 1.67 billion package. The list includes eight vessels for the transportation of oil and oil products and five Suezmax DP vessels. The arrangement considers that Satco would hire the EAS to build the ships and then rent them to Petrobras. The construction of the eight ships, known by the acronym MR, therefore, depends on the endorsement of the state.

In the beginning, MRs would be made by Kingfish, but Satco was willing to take over the contracts, Burmann said. The negotiation would require, however, the extension of the deadline for delivery of the vessels to Petrobras. In a note, Petrobras stated: “With regard to the agreements entered into with Kingfish for the construction of eight ‘MR’ class vessels, the projection of demand with the current scenario does not indicate a new conclusion of these contracts for another company or even its extent. ”

In the case of the five Suezmax DPs, the feasibility of construction in the EAS may be higher or lower, depending on what Petrobras indicates in its new business plan, as yet undisclosed. But the construction of the Suezmax also depends on the renegotiation of debts with the BNDES. The yard seeks extension of grace period and more time to amortize the financing that has with the bank.

The renegotiation with the BNDES is part of a wider discussion involving other shipyards via the sector’s class entity, the National Union of the Shipbuilding and Offshore Industry (Sinaval). The sector is working to approve a provisional measure authorizing the renegotiation of financing by public banks that act as financial agents of the Merchant Marine Fund (FMM), a source of long-term financing for the industry.

The BNDES commented, in a note, on the discussion on renegotiation of contracts, not to mention the specific case of EAS. “As it happens in the national financial system, whenever it is feasible, the renegotiation of contracts can be an alternative used by BNDES to support the maintenance of economic activity and jobs, preserving the bank’s credit.” The BNDES said that it “carefully” follows the situation of the shipbuilding sector. “It is well known that the naval sector presents challenges linked to the situation of the oil and gas industry,” the bank said.

According to the BNDES, the potential of new investments in the shipbuilding sector due to changes in the regulatory framework of the oil sector and future auctions of oil and gas exploration blocks is also “notorious”. “Thus, considering both the opportunities and the challenges, BNDES has maintained constant contact with the representatives of the entities representing the [shipbuilding] sector, as well as in particular with its clients,” BNDES reported.

Inaugurated in 2008 as a symbol of the new phase of shipbuilding in the country, EAS invested R $ 2.2 billion in assets and received contributions from shareholders to continue operating. In line with the BNDES, EAS had productivity gains and, in the last ten months, contracted 1,600 employees to meet the construction contracts of five Aframax vessels for Transpetro, which will be delivered by 2019. From then on, Future of EAS is now unknown.

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