Norwegian Minister Opened Brazil Podium

The seminar on May 31, 2017, was one of the highlights of the Brazil@Nor-Shipping agenda, organized by Abran and NSA. The program was developed to strengthen relations between the Norwegian and Brazilian business communities, and the presence of two Norwegian Ministers only proves the importance given by the Norwegian government to the bilateral relations with Brazil.


Brazil is the largest and most promising offshore market in the world and Norway is home to the most advanced offshore fleet. A perfect match and a driving force to further strengthen the relationship, according to Abran president José Roberto Neves.


«We are learning from our mistakes and changing the country for the better. We will not waist the opportunity to create an arena that attracts international players. The Brazil@Nor-Shipping agenda enhances the already existing synergies between our people» Mr. Neves said in his introduction to the podium.


Norway´s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Søviknes was the keynote speaker in the first panel focusing on the fast changing scenario in the Brazilian maritime industry.


«Norway and Brazil are both major energy nations with huge offshore reserves, and we both have a lot to gain by cooperating. I am confident that we both have the know-how and the technology to face the challenges and I believe in a rewarding cooperation also in the future», the Minister said. He emphasized the need for adapting to new market realities and to work towards a more sustainable energy mix», 


«Technological development has always played a key role in unblocking new resources and making it possible to produce faster and smarter. Norway and Brazil face many of the same challenges, we have a demanding offshore environment and both see technology as a key approach. Although many companies are struggling, we need to focus on the opportunities and this industry has demonstrated the ability to adapt before. Transition requires action», Minister Søviknes said in his address. 


A friendlier Brazil


Several Brazilian speakers focused on how Brazil is in the process of becoming a «friendlier» destination for investors. Brazil is learning from its mistakes, and investors should think beyond the clichés.


The president of the Brazilian Institute for Petroleum (IBP), Jorge Camargo, talked about the outlook for the oil and gas industry in Brazil.


«Brazil is friendlier to investments, and offshore Brazil stands out as the most economically robust oil province in the world today. If you are in offshore, you have to be in Brazil», Mr Camargo said. He described the productivity on pre-salt as «amazing» and «unheard of», and presented estimates from Rystad Energy that show that Brazil could double its production in the next 20 years. But it depends on Brazil removing the obstacles that have been created over the years.

«We are doing progress. The Petrobras obligation to be operator on pre-salt has been removed and a bid round calendar is now in place. We are working on  a new local content model, but still have work to do on environmental licenses, taxes and regulations. A dreadful crisis has been a catalyst for change, and now is the time to position yourself for the future», Mr. Camargo said.


Petrobras General Manager Juliano Dantas participated on two of the panels during the BrazilPodium.


«The turnaround is a new boost for partnerships, and we look for strategic partners to overcome challenges, among operators, suppliers and within R&D. Today we acknowledge what happened, and we understand that predictability is vital going forward, but we are still looking ahead and we are confident that we will get there and create a sustainable industry together with our partners». Mr. Dantas said during the Brazil seminar.


In his address to the Brazil Podium, Sturla Henriksen, the CEO of NSA, said he believes in recovery, both for the Brazilian and the global oil and gas industry.


«Both Brazil and Norway have been hard hit, and we recognize that Brazil has had substantial challenges politically and difficulties in Petrobras. We follow this with keen interest and are very respectful and sympathetic with regards to the challenges your are facing. There are encouraging signs. A crucial point now is the speed of implementation», Mr. Henriksen said.


Felipe Meira, Vice-president of Farstad Americas and Kristian Siem, CEO of Siem Industries represented some of the many shipowners in the audience, both conveying a message that Norwegian shipowners would like to help Brazil «back on track.»


In a separate session, the new role of BNDES, the influential Brazilian development bank, was discussed. BNDES is the main provider of long term financing in Brazil, and with the launch of a new set of guidelines in June 2016, the development bank has changed its strategy, according to Mauricio Neves, of BNDES.


«Cooperation is now the name of the game and BNDES intends to play a less important part in projects. Today we carefully consider wether a project will bring good return to the country, and project qualifiers are innovation, sustainability, health, education, infrastructure, exports and SMEs», Mr. Neves said. He also signaled that the bank is willing to customize solutions for the industry. Many are struggling, and there is currently 20 percent idleness in the Brazilian offshore fleet. But according to Mr. Neves there are still resources available. The challenge is how to use it.


«The financial system needs to be flexible to fit the low price scenario», Mr. Neves said.


Legal aspects


A legal seminar on June 1, 2017, closed the Brazil@Nor-Shipping program this year. The seminar examined different legal and regulatory aspects of the maritime industry, relevant to Brazilian-Norwegian collaboration at sea.


Keynote speaker was the director of Ports and Coasts, Vice-Admiral Lima Filho and he introduced the DPC, the structure of the directorate and also the main responsibilities of the entity. It is also the responsibility of DPC to supervise the operations of foreign vessels in national waters


«You might be asking yourself, what is my business here? My business in the safety of navigation in Brazil, the safeguarding of human life in Brazilian waters, the protection of the maritime environments and the training and forming of seafarers in Brazil. When you send your ships to Brazil, you have to follow our regulations. I am responsible for making and modernizing these regulations», he stated.


The 37 ports and 43.000 kilometer of navigable inland waterways is another responsibility of DPC. Today the offshore support vessel fleet in Brazil counts 277 vessels, and a significant portion is owned by Norwegian shipowners.


«But our work with the shipowners form Norway is easy for us, because you want to do what is right. Norway is an important partner of Brazil, and the sea connects us», Vice-Admiral Lima Filho said. 


Birgit Løyland, Director General Ministry of Trade and Fisheries, was also among the speakers, and she presented the Ocean Strategy, launched by the Norwegian Government in February this year.


«We have high hopes for the ocean economies. Today they represent more than 70 percent of our exports. We intend to work with Brazil to make the most of its potential», Mrs. Løyland said.


The mission of the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) is not very different from how it works in Brazil.


«Our mission is to safeguard life and health, the environment and property», Director General of the Norwegian Maritime Authority, Olav Akselsen, said in his keynote. 


During Norshipping 2017, Mr. Akselsen identified two megatrends - the focus on new technology (unmanned ships) and on increased environmental requirements. The shipping industry today represents 2,2 percent of the world´s CO2 emissions, and Mr. Akselsen expects more focus on reducing emissions in the future. He also presented vessels using alternative fuel solutions, and said that NMA welcomes and supports these developments.


Flavio Valle, representing Prumo Logistica Global, presented a case study on the Açu Port in the north of the state of Rio de Janeiro to the seminar. The Açu Port is operational since 2014, and is located about 150 km form the Campos Basin.


«Brazils infrastructure is lagging behind, with few ports with the water depth to receive big vessels» he said in his presentation.


«Profitable for good»

Abran president José Roberto Neves is very satisfied with the organization of the Brazil@Nor-Shipping agenda, a very solid effort by Abran and Norwegian Shipowners´Association in cooperation with The Consulate General in Rio and Team Norway. 


«We managed to show the world that Brazil is recovering, undergoing a bold and necessary agenda of reforms both politically and business-wise. There are a lot of positive signs, and I think we met the expectations completely.  I am convinced that the Brazilian agenda at Nor-Shipping is becoming a tradition, and we are very optimistic for the next few years. Despite of a natural competition from other countries during the event, it is clear to me that Brazil gets a special attention, and Abran is also very grateful that important Brazilian stakeholders like Petrobras, IBP, BNDES, DPC, Statoil, ambassador George Prata, companies and important players were part of the Brazilian delegation this year. The event is a very important landmark for Norwegian-Brazilian relations, and Nor-Shipping this year made us grow even fonder of each other. I expect the Brazilian presence at Nor-Shipping to continue increasing in importance», Mr. Neves says.