BNDES Approves US$220mn Financing for Petrobras Ships

The board of directors at Brazil's national development bank BNDES has approved US$220mn in loans to build four tankers for federal energy company Petrobras, BNDES said in a statement.

The loans are for Rio shipyard Estaleiro Ilha (EISA) to build two Panamax and two Suezmax tankers for Petrobras transport subsidiary Transpetro. EISA won the contract in 2001, but was unable to meet BNDES terms to secure the financing, a source close to the process told BNamericas.

EISA was already overdue on a US$20mn loan with BNDES, and could not provide sufficient guarantees for the new loans, said the source, who asked not to be named. The company then brought in an international partner, Singapore's Jurong, but BNDES did not accept the initial the loan guarantees offered because they were too weak, the source said.

EISA has now renegotiated the original BNDES debt and Jurong has put forward solid guarantees, so the board approved the loans, the source said. EISA and Jurong must now present all the proper documentation for the financing to be signed, which usually takes around one month, a BNDES spokesperson told BNamericas.

Now that this obstacle has been removed, Transpetro is preparing to tender contracts to build a further 18 oil tankers, a Transpetro spokesperson said. The tender for another four vessels will begin as soon as construction of the first one at EISA begins, the spokesperson said. "It means finally Transpetro can begin to renew its fleet," the spokesperson said. The company currently has 53 ships transporting oil and derivatives along the Brazilian coastline, as well as for import and export.

BNDES has already set aside resources to finance these projects, as the current bank administration is keen to promote the local naval industry, the BNDES spokesperson said. BNDES president Carlos Lessa has stated that the naval industry is a priority for the bank, as it creates jobs locally and avoids importing oil platforms and tankers, the spokesperson said.

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