Petrobras charters cargo transfer vessel from MOL while gearing up for talks about new CTV shipbuilding deal

SeaLoading Holding, a subsidiary of Japan’s shipping heavyweight Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), and Brazil’s state-owned energy giant Petrobras have inked a charter contract for a cargo transfer vessel (CTV) and penned a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to embark on negotiations by year-end to build a new CTV.

CTV SeaLoader 2; Source: MOL

The charter contract was signed for the CTV SeaLoader 2, which started working for Petrobras on a trial period in January 2022 and completed more than 30 crude oil offloading operations from the Brazilian player’s FPSOs located in the Santos Basin off the coast of Brazil, transferring the cargo to tankers.

These trials involved vessels up to VLCC size. Following the conclusion of the trial period, the vessel was placed on a time charter contract in 2023. Furthermore, MOL claims that only two CTVs currently exist in the world, all owned by SeaLoading, which holds the patent for the CTV technology.

However, the firm has now signed a MoU with Petrobras to enter into negotiations for a new CTV shipbuilding contract by the end of 2024. The Japanese shipping giant explains that the crude oil produced from offshore fields with FPSOs is usually transported to the demand area via crude oil tankers.

Source: MOL

In most cases, these require DP shuttle tankers with special cargo handling equipment to receive the crude oil and transport it to an oil storage terminal or calm waters where it can be offloaded or transshipped and then reloaded onto a crude oil tanker. The firm underlines that crude oil can be directly loaded from the FPSO to the crude oil tanker by connecting a CTV between an FPSO and the tanker, increasing the efficiency of crude oil logistics.

“The use of CTVs will also enable a significant reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the transfer of crude oil by DP shuttle tankers. Specifically, CTVs are expected to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions off the Brazilian coast compared to using a DP shuttle tanker for offloading in the Santos basin, Brazil and about 80% when it is used off the coast of Uruguay,” elaborated MOL.

The Japanese shipping player is strengthening its collaboration with Petrobras and other oil majors to further expand the use of CTVs in the future, as it believes that such a move has the potential to “significantly” curb CO2 emissions and costs compared to conventional crude oil transfer by DP shuttle tankers.

Schematic diagram and photo of cargo handling with CTV; Source: MOL

MOL is set on improving efficiency and reducing environmental impact in the supply chain from crude oil production and storage to offloading. The MoU with Petrobras comes on the heels of the firm’s long-term charter contract for a newbuild LNG carrier with Tokyo LNG Tanker (TLT), a subsidiary of compatriot gas supplier Tokyo Gas.

Petrobras, which plans to put 11 additional FPSO units into operation in the pre-salt layer offshore Brazil by 2027, intends to give the biggest slice of its planned $102 billion investment pie over the next five years to oil and natural gas while $11.5 billion is earmarked for projects that will enable a reduction in carbon footprint.