Naval Industry, the new strength of Rio de Janeiro state economy

Crisis is a word that does fit in the vocabulary of the Brazilian naval industry, which estimates closing the year with solid orders of US$ 9 billion, a growth of 50% relative to 2008. That is the utterly optimistic forecast of the National Union of Shipbuilders (Sinaval) and much of it is due to the growth of the sector in the State of Rio de Janeiro. Today, the shipyards of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, São Gonçalo and Angra dos Reis represent over 21 thousand direct jobs and another 100 thousand indirect ones. 

According to the chairman of Sinaval, Ariovaldo Rocha, the sector has secured orders for until 2015. For the next seven years orders of 338 enterprises are forecast, among platforms, oil tankers, marine support ships, bulk vessels and container carriers. To meet this demand there are 26 midsize and large yards across the country, 19 of which are in the state of Rio. Together, they can process 570 tons of steel per year, on 4.7 million square meters of occupied area, with about 40 thousand skilled workers.

Since 2003, the sector has already received $ 10.5 billion in funding or priorities. A survey conducted by Sinaval released in April this year shows that in Brazil the crisis does not reach the sector, shielded with financing from the Fund of the Merchant Navy and the orders from Petrobras and Transpetro. According to the chairman of Sinaval, Ariovaldo Rocha, orders in progress in Brazilian yards, with contracts already executed, mount to over 3.3 million gross weight tonnes (GWT) in just 25 tankers.

Two semi-submersible platforms (P-55 and P56) and the fixed platform Mussel are under construction. The hiring of 23 more tankers is forecast for 2009, totaling over 1.7 million more GHT, three bunker ships and 24 marine support vessels, from a batch of 148 announced by Petrobras. In coming years, the orders already announced are of 124 support vessels, eight semi-submersible platforms and FPSOs and 28 vessels for drilling wells in deep waters.

In addition to oil platforms and large tankers, which occupy the major shipyards in the country, small manufacturers have their space taken with works for the construction of support vessels. From 2000 on, when the number of support boats built in the country dropped from 110 to 43 after the opening of the domestic market to foreign fleets, 80 new units were built, according to the Brazilian Association of Marine Support Companies.

The association's president and vice president of the National Union of Enterprises of Maritime Navigation (Syndarma), Ronaldo Lima, recalls that in addition to orders from Petrobras, the hiring of companies such as Devon and Statoil, which are beginning to operate in Brazil have also contributed to the sector.

The promising orders for a near future have made Lima, and other owners of yards like his own former  Ebin, now Aliança, guarantee before the Merchant Marine Fund a pre-approved credit. For Aliança, the credit is $ 850 million, providing for the building of 20 support vessels (distributed between Petrobras lots still to be released) plus the expansion of the yard. "It is a sector that has demand, credit, so it can’t but get ahead," he said.

The vessels are financed, in up to 90% by the FMM, a government fund, and count on the input of resources from the federal budget through the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC). The credit availability in this segment is one of the most attracting points for investors. Worldwide, the sector was one of the least affected: of 9.5 thousand projects that were held in September last year, when the global crisis took a stronger impetus, only 36 have been canceled and none in Brazil.
Today, Brazil has 26 yards, and South Atlantic, in the municipality of Ipojuca - Suape port complex (PE) - is the largest in the southern hemisphere. Four Brazilian shipyards are investing in the expansion: Alliança and MacLaren Oil (RJ), Wilson Sons (SP) and Rio Grande (RS).
The orders portfolio from shipyards worldwide, with more than nine thousand ships under construction, in a volume of 570 million GWT, promotes the upgrading of about 50% of current world fleet by 2013. According to the chairman of Sinaval, new orders have been interrupted, but analysts deny the cancellation of contracts. The shipowners inform actions, on the supply side, selling old ships for scrap and stopping ships to await better freight prices.

More jobs, more skills

The results given by the Sinaval show a scenario already provided by the Ministry of Labor and Employment. The Ministry, attentive to the market, signed agreements with the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Rio de Janeiro in the Sector Qualification Plan (Planseq), specific to the area, aiming at creating over three thousand job opportunities to workers.

The agreement with the Naval Planseq Rio de Janeiro was established in 2006. For its implementation more than US$ 900 thousand from the Ministry were transferred. Classes to qualify 1588 workers were opened. The result was very positive, with 22 courses and 1,478 concluding students. According to the coordinator, Carlos Estephanio, the target of 30% of market insertion was surpassed and, even after two years after on the courses’ start, there are companies still seeking information about the qualified students.

Training opens doors to those seeking employment or even to those who are already employed and to better jobs and positions. The national coordinator of the Port and Waterway Labor Inspection of the Ministry of Labor and Employment, Vera Albuquerque, confirms that there are vacancies and the demand for trained professionals is in fact growing. "We have seen the growth of employment in all the shipyards in Rio de Janeiro. Without ships, petroleum exploitation cannot go on, and Brazil stands no chance of growing. And everyone is for Brazil’s growth," she stresses.

The scenery does not inspire only Vera’s confidence. The chairman of Sinaval, Ariovaldo Rocha, recalls that the yards in expansion have orders until 2015. "Brazil is again visible among the world’s shipbuilding countries with relevant industries, representing 14% of total world construction of maritime support ships for offshore services." In 2008, the yards maintained the level of direct employment at about 40 thousand workers across the country, with estimates that for each direct employment the ship industry generates five indirect ones, raising the total to 240 thousand new jobs.

- Brazil now occupies the sixth place ranking in the international shipbuilding industry, we are among the first in the clip of orders. That only tends to grow, said the president of Transpetro, Sérgio Machado.

Opportunities for different segments

With so many and so promising investments, the scenario beckons with good prospects for the market of suppliers. This is because the yards are basically large assemblers: they don’t manufacture a thing. Therefore, their growth represents the development of dozens of other sectors, especially to ship parts.

For these features, the yards open a range of opportunities in different segments, from food suppliers to products such as automation equipment, electrical and electronic equipment, engines, paint, furniture, pipes and connections, and kitchen equipment. A survey conducted by Transpetro indicates that the development of shipbuilding industry also brings business opportunities for the steel industries, metallurgical, chemical, components manufacturing industries and even for insurance companies.

The Brazilian Association of Machinery and Equipment Industry (Abimaq) estimates that the revitalization of the shipyards in the country opens up prospects for investments of US$ 2 billion to the industry of ship parts in the forthcoming years, which represents the generation of around 60 thousand job posts throughout the country. In order to prepare the

Fonte: Click Macaé - Simone Noronha