Lula Vows Brazil’s Naval Industry Will Be as Good as the Air One

Shipbuilder in Santa Catarina state, Brazil The Brazilian government announced it will promote Brazil's shipbuilding industry not only to supply vessels and oil rigs for domestic demand but also to export them to the rest of South and Latin America.

"We've started a new policy to promote the building of new shipyards and updating existing ones so we can have a strong shipbuilding industry both for the local market and for exporting to other South American countries," said Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

"Brazil has the potential, technology and therefore we have a comparative advantage in world markets in a strategic sector such as is the manufacturing of oil rigs and other support vessels."

Lula made the announcements in his weekly radio program mentioning that last week he visited the state of Rio Grande do Sul in the extreme south of the country for the opening ground ceremony of a new dry dock, which will supply oil rigs and other maritime equipment for the development of deep sea huge oil and gas fields discovered offshore in the Atlantic area.

Brazil's government oil corporation Petrobras, which exploits most of the country's oil and gas resources, and has discovered giant deposits in the Atlantic Ocean is behind the project to develop the naval industry in Rio Grande do Sul.

Besides oil rigs Petrobras has contracted 26 new vessels for its merchant fleet. "We're talking of the rebirth of the Brazilian fleet and the empowerment of our maritime interests."

Lula said Brazil must pay every year over 8 billion US dollars in freight because it doesn't have the necessary cargo vessels.

"It's not possible that a country that ships 95% of its exports by sea doesn't have Brazilian flagged vessels," said Lula. In the 70s Brazil's merchant fleet was among the world's top five but without support and incentives the industry began to collapse and "reached the year 2.000 with a mere thousand workers in the whole industry."

Lula said that Petrobras oil rigs have an average international cost of a billion US dollars but built in Brazil 50 to 100 million US dollars could be shaved from the final price. "And that does not include resources, jobs, taxes and technology development for the naval industry."

"We must look ahead to the strengthening of the Brazilian nation and in treasuring the scientific and technological knowledge we have," said the Brazilian president who added that "Brazil in the short term will become the main reference in oil rig and vessels for the industry; our naval development can be and will be as successful as our air industry which manufactures and exports aircrafts all over the world," he concluded.

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