Petrobras plans to go shopping. With the improvement in financial conditions and the reduction of indebtedness (currently R $ 361.5 billion), the state company wants to have its own platforms and no longer charter, as it has done in the last six years. The oil company began to map the situation of the Brazilian shipyards, which are currently experiencing a serious crisis. The objective is to schedule orders for units necessary for oil production as of 2022, Hugo Repsold, director of Petrobras’ Production and Technology Development, told GLOBO.
There is no definition yet of the number of platforms the state company intends to acquire, but the total or partial construction of the units in the country should have an impact on the economy and the shipbuilding industry. In market estimates, the cost of a platform vessel (FPSO) with a production capacity of 150,000 barrels per day is US $ 1.5 billion in the international market.
For the naval industry, it can be a sign of encouragement. At the beginning of 2010, the sector celebrated the resumption of orders for platforms and ships from Petrobras, but, since 2015, it sank in a crisis after the state’s orders were cut, reflecting the corruption scandal revealed by Operation Lava-Jato- with investigations that have reached the controllers of several national shipyards. According to Sinaval, which brings together companies from the sector, from 2014 to the present, at least 20 shipyards closed the doors, bringing together 50,000 jobs. Currently, there are only 32 shipyards in operation, compared to 52 that existed in 2014. The industry employs 30,000 workers today. It had reached 82 thousand.
– We are making an assessment of the sector so that we can resume talks with the companies so that they have the opportunity to get back on their feet financially and to participate in the process. Many shipyards are excellent, with first-line hardware, state of the art engineering and management training so they can have the same results that the shipbuilding industry has in other countries – Repsold emphasizes, which considers it strategic for the company to count on a mix of own and chartered platforms. – We were not having our own units because of a financial issue, we are reducing indebtedness. Our goal is to deleverage (reduce debt) the company, have a good cash flow next year and then we will return to make our own units.
One of the key factors in getting business out of the way is competitiveness. While there were still rules with higher percentages of national content, Petrobras appealed to the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) to be released from the obligation, claiming that the price difference reached 40% for the Libra project. The discussion put the company and industry on opposite sides. Subsequently, the government relaxed the rules. The director of Petrobras guarantees that, contrary to what happened in the past, the state company will not pay a higher price in relation to the international quotation.
– Petrobras will not be able to afford inefficiency or pay a difference to compensate for inefficiency or difficulty that exists in this sector in the country. The industry has to reach a level of competitiveness to compete on equal terms with other countries – said Repsold, adding that there is a debate with governments, companies and sector entities to discuss what improvements can be made in the tax, infrastructure and labor fields to enable a resumption of the naval industry.
‘IT’S AN INDUSTRY THAT CAN NOT COMPETE’
Despite the efforts, experts, however, have doubts about whether domestic shipyards will be able to build platforms at competitive prices and warn that Petrobras will find it more difficult to afford prices above those practiced in the international market now that it works in partnership in majority of pre-salt projects. The partner companies would not accept the surcharge.
Pre-salt production falls in March, says ANP
Fernanda Delgado, a researcher at FGV Energia, who participated in this week’s Offshores Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, the largest oil event in the world, estimates that the sector is keeping an eye on the opportunities of the oil industry in Brazil, despite the uncertainty of the elections. But this optimism does not extend to the naval sector:
– It is a sector that has already gone under three times (in the 1970s, 1980s and 2000s) and that has always depended on the government and orders from Petrobras. We have no way to compete, no scale, very low efficiency and a very high cost. It is an industry that does not stand alone.
The alternative, for Fernanda, would be the industry to focus on equipment in which it was more competitive, such as the modules installed on top of the ship’s hull.
– Why insist on a sector that is not successful? Building platforms in Brazil will be better for the country? We should not overpay for the learning curve. You can not make the same mistakes again – criticizes.
THIS YEAR, 7 PLATFORMS BEGIN TO OPERATE
By the end of this year, Petrobras will start up seven new oil production platforms. Of this total, six are owned and ordered in 2012. All go to the pre-salt in the Santos Basin: three of them will be in Campo de Búzios and three in the Campo de Lula. The units were completed overseas, mainly in the manufacture of the hull, due to the problems faced by the national shipyards. The seventh platform is chartered (FPSO Cidade de Campos dos Goytacazes) and will be in the post-salt of the Campos Basin. Startup is gradual. With these and other units scheduled for the next few years, Petrobras expects to increase domestic production from the current 2 million barrels per day to 2.9 million barrels per day in 2022.
Repsold did not report what the local content index will be for each of them, but a portion of the platforms’ equipment, which involves $ 7.6 billion in resources, be made in the country.