Petrobras Cancels Vessel Leases, Schahin to Sue
Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras canceled leases with Schahin Petroleo e Gas SA for five offshore oil drilling and production vessels after a cash crunch forced the ship leaser to remove the equipment from service for nearly a month, Schahin said on Thursday.
The decision, if upheld, will result in the loss of more than 1,000 related jobs, Schahin said, while creditors and investors stand to lose more than $4 billion. Schahin said it plans to sue Petrobras, as the oil company is known, to reinstate the contracts.
Petrobras said in a e-mailed statement that the cancellations were due to a contractual breach.
Petrobras has been trying to slash costs in the face of falling oil prices, soaring debt and record losses related to poor planning and fallout from a giant price-fixing, bribery and political kickback scandal.
In the lower oil price environment, Petrobras, the world's most indebted oil company, and third most indebted non-financial company, faces a market with a growing number of unused vessels and falling day rates. Deepwater drillships that rented for $500,000 or $600,000 a day several years ago can now be leased for $400,000 or less, according to industry sources.
The five Schahin vessels are the drillships Cerrado Sertão and Lancer and the semi-submersible oil production platforms Amazônia and Pantanal. All had been on long-term leases.
Schahin said it was forced in early April to temporarily pull these vessels from service with Petrobras for nearly a month and move them to port after a lack of cash to pay debt led a creditor to seek the sale of assets. The creditor was leasing the Pantanal and Amazônia to Schahin.
In late April, after renegotiating a $1 billion reduction in debt Schahin informed Petrobras that the ships were ready for service. On May 21 Petrobras canceled the leases, Schahin said.