A Decade of Dramatic Change in Latin America

14 February 2022

This month, Captain Luiz Freitas, Vice President, South America is celebrating the tenth anniversary of International Registries, Inc., and its affiliates’ (IRI’s) Rio de Janeiro office. Over those ten years, he has seen the Brazilian market go through some difficult challenges and amazing progress, all while strengthening the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry’s services in the region. Captain Freitas explains:

“Beginning in the second half of 2014, with the decline in oil prices, there was a large reduction in offshore shipping activity. Some of our clients, mostly drilling contractors and Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV) operators needed to drastically reduce their fleets operating in Brazil. Some closed their doors while others merged with other companies. But Petrobras and other oil companies started focusing on their core activities, which enabled them to reduce expenses while generating income. This opened up new opportunities for small, independent players.”

Captain Freitas joined IRI in 2012, after 39 years of duty in the Brazilian navy, where he served with distinction as divisional officer, head of operations, staff officer, instructor, executive officer, captain, and harbor master.

He has observed that the offshore market is changing in exciting ways and IRI Rio de Janeiro is well poised to support the changing market.

“Energy companies are changing their investment patterns, with gas and renewables projects getting a larger share than just a few years ago. Over the last five years, the upsurge in offshore wind has encouraged the oil and gas market to develop new business lines, vessels, and technology, with new and alternative business opportunity for offshore vessels.”

The RMI Registry has a proven record of support in developing global regulatory requirements for safety, security, and environmental protection through venues such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the offshore industry. Similarly, the technical team provides support for projects around the world by helping to craft solutions that are tailored to the uniqueness of offshore wind units.

This means IRI is an essential partner as the Brazil market continues to evolve. “Very important to shipowners and operators is our ability to quickly interact with our other worldwide offices and service areas, in search of effective solutions to situations that arise and require immediate attention, regardless of time zone,” says Captain Freitas. “For our local clients, we communicate in their language, with the technical expertise and support of team members worldwide.  This is a great advantage.”

He notes that having a full-service office in Brazil, with special agents based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Valparaiso, Chile, and a network of inspectors covering every country in South America, gives the RMI Registry the unique capacity to establish and maintain excellent professional relationships with key maritime authorities in the region including the Viña del Mar port State Control Agreement, which covers Latin America.

The focus is always on the safety and security of vessels, their crews, and the marine environment,” said Captain Freitas. It is anticipated that future inspections will be increasingly rigorous, and there will be ongoing concentrated inspection campaigns focusing on specific areas where a higher risk of non-compliance could exist. These aspects require better preparation of all those involved to avoid detentions or deficiencies, which keep the ship in the port until its rectification. “Of course, our owners and operators will always be able to count on our support in the region, clarifying any doubts they may have prior to carrying out these inspections,” said Captain Freitas.

The business environment is bright for Brazil’s offshore market. South America is dominating the global floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) market because of the widespread development of offshore exploration fields. Brazil individually holds the maximum number of FPSO operations in South America, as the country is home to most of the offshore projects under development in the world. This will certainly move the entire support chain, including the need for new offshore support vessels. “The Marshall Islands Registry will be there to support them in the whole endeavor,” he concluded.