Petrobras unit publishes bid notice for 42 vessels

Peter Howard Wertheim
OGJ correspondent

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 7 -- Transpetro, the transportation subsidiary of Brazil's state-owned oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras), published a bid notice for a $1.9 billion international tender to build 42 vessels to transport crude oil, products, and LPG.

Twenty-two vessels will be built for an estimated $1.1 billion, according to Transpetro Pres. Sergio Machado. Transpetero will hold a prequalification period open until Jan. 31, 2005, and invite qualified companies to submit bids by May. Winning bidders will be announced in June.

To qualify, companies must have net assets of at least $296 million. That and other requirements drew criticism from Wagner Victer, Rio de Janeiro state shipbuilding, energy, and petroleum secretary.

"In many instances," he told OGJ, "Brazilian shipyards do not have the financial and operational capacity to abide by some of the Transpetro requirements."

Machado said the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) will finance as much as 90% of the vessels, with 20-year amortization periods and 4%/year interest rates.

Transpetro now owns 51 vessels, which account for only 17% of all of the maritime transport needs of Petrobras.

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