Petrobras has started to hand out the first in a big series of new offshore shipping contracts.

US owner Edison Chouest Offshore and Brazil’s Grupo CBO have taken the lion’s share of the platform supply vessel deals awarded so far.

Petrobras came out at the end of 2022 with tenders for at least 40 oil and gas ships.

Now nine out of 20 PSV contracts have been assigned to vessels.

The terms run for four firm years, starting between May and August this year. Rates have not been disclosed.

Edison Chouest and Grupo CBO scooped three charters each.

The US owner’s Brazilian affiliate Bram Offshore won deals for the 5,300-dwt Bram Belem and 5,000-dwt Bram Brasilia (both built 2012), and the 4,900-dwt Bram Hero (built 2015).

CBO’s 4,600-dwt CBO Alianca and CBO Oceana, and the 4,500-dwt CBO Itajai (all built 2016), also secured contracts.

Baru Offshore’s 5,300-dwt Baru Andes (built 2008), Starnav’s 5,100-dwt Starnav Draco (built 2015) and Wilson Sons’ 3,200-dwt Cormoran (built 2011) make up the rest of the list.

The ships are already based in Brazil.

Overseas vessels in contention?

Brokers had speculated that the big contracts on offer could lure vessels from other markets.

In addition to the 20 PSVs needed, a separate tender sought four PSVs to support operations at Petrobras’ Mero field, with 914-day contracts up for grabs from August or September.

Two more deals could see 15 ships employed from next year at fields including Buzios and Roncador. These terms will be over three and four years.

A fifth tender calls for two anchor-handling tug supply ships over four years.

Shipbroker Fearnley Offshore Supply has said Brazil continues to demand tonnage to accommodate its ambitious growth plans.

Norwegian players in particular are understandably becoming increasingly focused on the region, with companies such as DOF Group and Solstad Offshore having a strong presence there.

There has been a clear trend of offshore support vessels exiting the North Sea for other continents.