Transpetro is reportedly considering inviting shipyards that could be interested to participate in a pre-qualification process. Bidding would be open to domestic and international bidders, although to meet local content requirements the work would have to be done in Brazil.
Transpetro chairman Sergio Machado was reported as saying that the company is working with the idea of splitting the construction between only three shipyards in order to generate economies of scale.
Brazil spends some US$6bn a year on chartering vessels and has not bought a large tanker for 16 years.
Construction could generate some 15,000 jobs if carried out locally, but for Brazilian yards to compete they would have to invest in their infrastructure to cut production time down from 30 months to the 18 months that a Korean shipyard would take to produce the same vessel.
The first vessel could be launched in 2007 and the last would be ready in 2010, Machado was quoted as saying.
According to previous information from the transport ministry, the tanker purchases would be the first stage in a US$3bn plan to buy 52 new vessels.
Meanwhile, Rio de Janeiro state energy, naval industry and oil department (Seinpe) wants to see only Brazilian vessels operating in Transpetro's fleet by 2010, Seinpe head Wagner Victer said in a statement Monday.
Victer was speaking from Norway, and announced that through its local representative Norskan do Brasil, Norwegian shipping company Solstad would order the construction of a US$40mn anchor handling tank supply (AHTS) vessel from a Rio shipyard this year. Construction of the AHTS would take 20 months.
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