Brazilian state-controlled Petrobras plans to launch a tender soon for the charter of up to three accommodation and maintenance units to carry out operations in the Campos and Santos basins that could be worth a combined $400 million.

Well-informed sources told Upstream that Petrobras intends to contract two or three vessels, with the final number to depend on the company’s long-term needs and prices offered, in an attempt to rebuild its fleet of flotels operating in Brazil.

It is understood that Petrobras is looking for a couple of large dynamically-positioned Class 2 or 3 semi-submersible vessels to work alongside floating production, storage and offloading vessels operating in the Santos basin pre-salt province, as well as production units at the Roncador, Albacora Leste, Marlim Sul, Marlim Leste and Barracuda-Caratinga fields.

A potential third unit, said sources, would be allocated to ageing fields in the Campos basin, and in order to contract that flotel Petrobras is expected to accept a wider range of options, including monohulls.

“One option that is completely off the table is anchor-moored units. Petrobras made clear already it does not want this type of flotel anymore,” said one source.

Earlier this year, Petrobras released the flotel OOS Prometheus a few months before the end of its contract because it had no further use for the OOS International anchor-moored unit.

Sources said Petrobras is expected to offer a three-year charter in the new tender for each flotel, renewable for an additional three years, with operations starting in 2019.

Companies including Prosafe, Floatel International, PACC Offshore Services, OOS and GranEnergia will likely participate in the tender.

“The market was expecting Petrobras to launch the tender in early May, before the change in its contracting policy, but we are now hearing the tender will be out either this month or the next,” said another source.

Since 15 May, a new law has governed how all state-controlled companies, Petrobras included, have to carry out tenders.

The law states that Petrobras should publicly disclose information on all future tenders, while also allowing the participation of any company that decides to do so, and not just those formally invited by the oil giant.

“We still do not know how this new flotel tender will take place under the new rules,” a source commented.

Petrobras currently has a fleet of five flotels, down from nine units two years ago.

Three vessels — OOS Gretha from OOS, Aquarius Brasil from Sembawang Shipyard, and CSS Olympia from GranEnergia — have contracts expiring this year, with sources suggesting one or two could be renewed.

Petrobras recently chartered the newbuild OOS Tiradentes from OOS for a one-year period to May 2019, while Prosafe's Safe Notos will be employed until July 2020.