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Asian yards miss out on Petrobras drillship contracts

Rio De Janeiro: Asian shipyards are to lose out on a lucrative offshore opportunity in light of the news that that Brazilian oil company Petrobras is to hand out around $9.8bn in chartering costs to offshore operators for expensive drillships - but only if they are built in Brazil.

After Petrobras executives visited various South Korean yards in April of this year it was thought highly likely that the state-controlled oil giant would give the green light for charterers to build the vessels in South Korean yards, such as Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering.

But today, Sergio Gabrielli, the President of transpetro has declared that the tender process for 28 drillships - which cost around USD$300M a piece - will go out within days and it will include the proviso that they are constructed in Brazil.

Gabrielli said in Rio de Janeiro:  "We are looking at various alternatives that include us contracting the yards to build the vessels or handing out long-term charter agreements to the operators to then negotiate with the yards to build. But whichever alternative we choose it will involve the vessels being built in Brazil."

This announcement seems to have killed off speculation that some of these sophisticated and very expensive vessels might be buit in Korean or Chinese shipyards, as has been mooted in the international maritime media.

Petrobras itself has throughout this year been saying only that the 28 drillships will "largely be built in Brazil" leaving the opportunity for hope among South Korean and other Asian yards.

The Petrobras initiative will lead to contracts - for the newbuildings - worth around $9.8bn, with each drill ship costing around $350m.  [11/09/09]

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