Breakfast meeting – New government and offshore market rebound: a second chance for Brazil?

As the opening of the 2019 agenda in Oslo, our member Advokatfirmaet BAHR AS held the breakfast seminar “New government and offshore market rebound: a second chance for Brazil?” on 16 January 2019.

BNCC’s executive director, Mrs. Larissa Slottet, welcomed the guests with an introduction to BNCC, encouraging the participants who are not yet members of the chamber to join the most representative Brazilian-Norwegian business networking arena in Oslo. She passed on the word to Mr. Haakon Flaatten, a partner at BAHR’s oil services and shipping practice, who presented the speaker of the day, Ms. Larissa Toledo, a Brazilian qualified lawyer with extensive experience in shipping and offshore, who is currently undertaking a 6-month secondment at BAHR. Larissa Toledo enlightened the audience with a presentation on three main topics: Brazil’s new government outlook, Brazil’s offshore market report and PETROBRAS 2019.

During the first topic, a light was shed on the context of the 2018 presidential elections in terms of what Larissa called the Brazilian’s “sophie’s choice” between Jair Bolsonaro, the winning candidate, and Fernando Haddad. Some comfort to private investors was given with the general outlook of the new government to the extent that a more liberal profile is expected from the strategic management and people with more technical background and understanding have been appointed to relevant decision making positions.

‚ÄčThe second topic was divided into a brief update of the offshore sector and the key legal-regulatory changes. Overall, 2018 was a positive year to the upstream segment, with three bid rounds having been successfully completed by the ANP. The drilling activity increased substantially considering the total number of licenses granted by the IBAMA in 2018 (i.e., 20 – against only one in 2017). However, since 2015, 137 foreign flagged supply vessels left Brazilian waters and around 30 have been reflagged to Brazil’s special ship registry (REB) as a result not only of the market crisis but also of the blocking issues with PETROBRAS. In 2019 two bid rounds have been scheduled for the second semester and the permanent offer should include over 1,000 new blocks within the first semester. Brazil’s potential both onshore and offshore was highlighted by the fact that less than 5% of sedimentary areas are contracted nowadays and also by the undiscovered resources in the “Blue Amazon”.

The key legal-regulatory changes were grouped under financing, tax/customs, litigation and general offshore matters. Hot topics discussed were the Reserve Based Lending, the REPETRO-SPED and the flexibility of local content requirements. New regulations on decommissioning, RD&I and natural gas are expected in 2019.

Finally, Larissa gave an overview of PETROBRAS’ new management and of the company’s Strategic Plan 2040 and Business Plan 2019-2013. PETROBRAS is now expected to concentrate investments in E&P, mainly in the pre-salt, and expand its divestment program, especially including downstream assets. To conclude, some comments were made on PETROBRAS’ new procurement rules, the possible new FPSO business model and on the latest developments of the Car Wash operation.

The seminar takeaways were that Brazil is facing structural modifications in the government towards a more liberal profile and that there are good prospects for the offshore industry. Public authorities and regulators are working on new regulations aimed at unlocking private investments. Meanwhile, PETROBRAS plans strong efforts to reposition itself in the market.

The audience was comprised of representatives of all players in the offshore industry, including financial institutions, oil companies, shipowners, brokers, suppliers and service providers. The success of the event reveals that at least Norway is paying careful attention to the upcoming opportunities and challenges of Brazil.

For details or more information, feel free to contact Larissa Toledo (latol@bahr.no) or Haakon Flaatten (hfl@bahr.no).