Under the agreement, Eisa, which belongs to the Synergy Group, will complete the development within 38 months.
With an area of 60 ha, it will be the second largest yard in Brazil, and will build suezmax vessels up to 185,000 dwt.
A letter of intent was sent to the state government in April announcing the Rio de Janeiro-based yard’s desire to establish an operation in the north-east of the country.
The state government has worked tirelessly to attract a yard to Maranhao, home to one of the country’s largest bulk export operations. “As well as the generation of a large number of jobs, the shipyard will make possible the creation of a productive chain in the state,” said Maranhao Secretary of Trade and Commerce Fernando Duailibe Mendonca. “The shipbuilding industry, as well as the automotive industry, is one of the economic activities that will most generate new chains, new industries for the supply of materials.”
With 11m tonnes of agricultural products and iron ore leaving for international markets via the port of Itaqui each year, it is hoped that the presence of shipyards and automotive industries will help accelerate the production of steel in the region.
Eisa president Manuel Ribeiro Goncalves said the efforts of the state had been one of the principal reasons to opt for Maranhao over locations such as Salvador and Ceara, which are also looking to attract shipbuilders. “The governor, the secretaries of state and all those involved in the negotiations have spared no effort or time to ensure this agreement in Maranhao comes to light,” he said. “There is a desire from both sides to make it happen. This is a complex business that demands the efforts of everyone, but all the big enterprises are like this.”
Any expansion is likely to be funded by Brazil’s Merchant Marine Fund using money raised by a tax on foreign vessels calling in Brazilian ports. The fund offers soft-financing to encourage the development of domestic shipbuilding capacity.
Production capacity in Eisa’s Rio de Janeiro yard is limited to 50,000 tonnes of steel a year. The yard is due to complete a bulker for US firm Gypsum Transportation and has started the construction of 10 panamaxes and product tankers for Venezuelan tanker owner PDV Marine.