As ship and boatyards in the Gulf of Mexico eagerly await 'Offshore Boom 2001,' it might behoove them to look at activities transpiring outside of their own backyard, as the business of building offshore rigs and vessels has truly become a global bonanza.
For example, down south, way down south in Brazil, FELS Setal SA has become that country's preferred shipyard for offshore and marine services on account of its quality workmanship and on-time deliveries, after just one year of its formation. The 60/40 joint venture company between Keppel FELS Energy & Infrastructure Ltd.
(Keppel FELS) of Singapore and the PEM Setal Group
of Brazil has won a total of $120 million worth of contracts in this short time.
Singapore's Minister for Trade & Industry, Brigadier General George Yeo noted, "Keppel's entry into the Brazilian market will inspire and encourage other Singapore companies to explore opportunities in this vast country."
"As a foreign investor, Keppel FELS is committed to help play a leading role in re-energizing the local offshore and marine industry," said Choo Chiau Beng, Chairman and Managing Director of Keppel FELS. The yard re-started operations last year after it was leased to FELS Setal as part of the Brazilian Government's effort to encourage the recovery of the offshore and marine industry as well as to rejuvenate the economy of Angra dos Reis through the re-creation of jobs.
FELS Setal has since won the confidence of reputable rig owners and operators to entrust the repair, retrofit and upgrade of their vessels and rigs with the company. Choo said, "Currently, FELS Setal is working on nine Petrobras' rigs operating in the Campos Basin from our facility in Macae. Here in Brasfels Yard, we have just completed the rehabilitation of SEDCO 135 D for Schlumberger and their partner TransOcean SedcoForex, having earlier completed a FPSO and a semi-submersible for the same owner.
"We have also repaired a drillship for Diamond Offshore and a semi-submersible platform for Stena Drilling. Two more rigs from TransOcean SedcoForex are scheduled to come to the yard for repair next month." It has also won the prestigious contract for the marine conversion of Stena Concordia, to be renamed Petrobras 48, from Halliburton Produtos Ltda, a subsidiary of Brown & Root. The company is presently in active discussions with other customers for more jobs. Mr Augustos Mendonca, Vice President of PEM Setal, said, "Our dream is that FELS Setal will become established as an international reference, competing and working efficiently."
He added that FELS Setal has the potential to take on much more and is confident that its workforce has the technical expertise to take on projects of a varying range of complexity.
Brasfels Yard is a 360,000 sq. m. sprawling shipyard, with major facilities that include a 300 m outfitting quay, a 320 m finger pier, a building berth that can handle vessels up to 300,000 dwt, a 400,000 dwt drydock, a 70,000 sq. m. shop area, and cranes that have capacity up to 660 tons. The shipyard has been servicing the upgrading and repair needs of rigs working in the region. Whereas in the past, owners must send their rigs abroad to be repaired, they can now have the advantage of repairing them locally, saving down time for their rigs.
The yard has also been able to serve the construction demands of the growing deepwater production markets of offshore Brazil
and West Africa, where the PEM Setal Group is already well-known.
The Brasfels shipyard began operations in March 2000 with no workers, and today, it employs more than 1,200 workers and subcontractors. Keppel FELS is a world leader in the construction of harsh environment jack-up drilling rigs. It is also one of the leaders in deepwater semi-submersibles and highly sophisticated specialized vessels. It is no stranger to the Brazilian offshore and marine industry, having delivered the Petrobras XVII in  and Petrobras XXVII in 1998. Keppel FELS commitment to Brazil is a part of its near customer, near market strategy to service its customers in the country better.