Three floater specialists have submitted bids to supply Brazilian state-controlled oil giant Petrobras with a large floating production, storage and offloading vessel for the giant Buzios pre-salt field in the Santos basin.

Well-informed sources told Upstream that Japan’s Modec International, Belgium’s Exmar and Malaysia’s MISC presented commercial offers on Tuesday afternoon in the tender for the Buzios-5 FPSO.

Norway’s BW Offshore and Malaysia’s Bumi Armada, which at one point were seen as contenders for the Buzios-5 FPSO, opted out of the race.

“I do not think anyone expected MISC to bid. It was definitely a surprise, and a positive one for Petrobras, having a new player participating in its tenders,” said a source.

Modec, which has been tipped as the frontrunner to win the contract, is working with two Chinese yards – Cosco Shipping Heavy Industries and Bomesc.

Earlier this year, Petrobras introduced more flexible rules regarding local content for Buzios-5, in a sign the oil company was trying to secure lower dayrates and make competition more attractive.

The first option featured a simpler project configuration with local content requirements set at 25% for the whole unit, while the second had local content varying from zero for hull fabrication to a mixture of percentages for topsides modules and integration work.

Sources said that Modec and Exmar presented offers for both options, while MISC only bid for the 25% local content alternative.

Petrobras will only open the proposals for the second option if prices in the first alternative come in higher than expected.

Petrobras is looking for a floater with capacity to produce 180,000 barrels per day of oil and 6 million cubic metres per day of natural gas for Buzios-5 to enter operations in the second half of 2021. Petrobras operates Buzios with a 100% stake.

Petrobras started output from Buzios last month via the P-74 FPSO. Two more units – P-75 and P-76 – are due to enter operations later this year, while a fourth floater, P-77, is earmarked for start-up in 2019.