Mitsubishi Heavy, IHI Said to Seek Petrobras Sea Hub Order

A Japanese group including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and IHI Corp. is seeking an order from Petroleo Brasileiro SA to build a floating transit hub off Rio de Janeiro to transport workers from the coast to deepwater platforms.

A Japan-backed project will also build high-speed ships to move workers from the coast, according to a Japanese transport ministry official. Japan’s transport ministry plans to give about 1 billion yen ($11 million) for the current and next financial year as aid to help develop the facility, the official said.

Deep water exploration projects need transit hubs as explorers develop offshore projects further away from the coast. Workers will be carried by high-speed ships to the hub from where they’ll board helicopters for the final leg of the journey to drilling and production platforms.

Mitsubishi Heavy, IHI and affiliate Japan Marine United Corp., Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., and Nippon Yusen K.K. won approval from the government to form a venture to conduct research on developing the hub, according to a statement from the country’s transportation ministry today, which didn’t identify the customer.

Fast Ships

Kawasaki Heavy is part of the Japanese group and is considering cooperation in the area of high-speed ships, spokesman Yusuke Kamada said today by phone.

Toyoshi Kodama, spokesman for IHI and Japan Marine United, couldn’t be reached for comment, when contacted by Bloomberg. Hideo Ikuno, a spokesman for Mitsubishi Heavy, wasn’t available for comment. Petrobras’ press office in Rio de Janeiro declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News. Petrobras is Brazil’s biggest oil company.

Plans to build the floating platform were earlier reported by the Yomiuri newspaper, which didn’t identify the Brazilian customer.

The hub will use floating technology developed by Japanese shipbuilders and steelmakers, the official said. The steel structure can also be used as an aircraft runway and a platform to store oil. Japan is in talks with Indonesia to build a floating dock off the coast of the East Kalimantan province to speed coal shipments, Japan’s trade ministry said in May 2011.

IHI, Japan Marine United and Japan Drilling Co. last month agreed to jointly design drilling rigs for deepwater projects. Kawasaki Heavy said last year it will buy a 30 percent stake in the venture with Brazilian partners to build drill ships.

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