Four bids in Petrobras offshore fiber optics tender

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, January 05, 2023
Four bids in Petrobras offshore fiber optics tender

Brazil’s national oil company Petrobras received four bids for engineering, supply and installation of submarine fiber optics, aimed at connecting 12 production units in the Campos basin.

The bids were submitted by Prática Engenharia, Best Energy & Engineering, K2 Telecom e Multimídia and Zemax Serviços Marítimos. A total of 15 companies were qualified to take part in the process, but 11 declined to bid. These include Claro Brasil, Prysmian and Tampnet, among others.

Petrobras is now analyzing the offers.

Zemax made the lowest bid, at 1.26mn reais (US$233,000), according to Petrobras documents, while Best and Prática offered 776mn reais and 2.64bn reais, respectively, and K2 offered to do the work for 1.16bn reais.

The huge differences between the lowest and the highest bids were not explained by Petrobras. A company spokesperson told BNamericas that Petrobras would not comment on the topic.

João Martins Silva, commercial director at Prática, told BNamericas that his company made a “typing mistake” and that the correct value of its proposal should actually be 1.64bn reais, not 2.64bn reais.

According to the executive, there is probably an error in the Zemax bid as well, which should be 1.26bn reais, not 1.26mn reais. BNamericas was unable to reach Zemax for comment.

Martins Silva argues that valid bids for this tender would likely be in the range of 1.2bn-1.3bn reais. Proposals such as that by Best Energy & Engineering, for 776mn reais, would be “unfeasible” given the scope and complexity of the project, he added.

“The lowest value is not necessarily the winning offer. In any case, Zemax has an advantage in pricing because it already has the vessels, the structure, a team ready for this type of operation, in Santos,” Martins told BNamericas. “They already have most of the costs internalized.”


Zemax was the winner, along with Planova, of a tender issued by Petrobras to connect productive units in the Santos basin with fiber optics.  

For that basin, a 1.42bn-real (US$278mn) fiber engineering, procurement, construction and installation services contract was inked with the ZemaxLog-Planova consortium in December 2021.

Zemax Serviços Marítimos is part of ZemaxLog, a Brazilian shipping company providing port and cabotage support, in addition to maritime and long-distance shipping.

Planova operates in design and construction of various types of works, including transmission lines and power and telecommunications substations.

The Santos-focused fiber network will be 1,000km long and is expected to connect the following platforms: PMXL-1, P-66, P-67, P-68, P-69, P-70, P-74, P-75, P-76, P-77 and P-71, in addition to the Guanabara and Sepetiba FPSOs.

The system in the Campos basin will comprise a 433km ring-shaped trunk optical cable connecting the landing stations in Anchieta (Espírito Santo state) and Quissamã (Rio de Janeiro), as well as 113km of cables for the project’s network branches (including three possible future branches), 14km of terrestrial and topside cables, and 127km of umbilical cables linking the 12 units.

In addition to the submarine cables, the contractor will also deploy the entire terrestrial infrastructure to support the network.

Services required include geophysical and geotechnical surveys, detailed engineering, offshore and onshore installation services, subsea interconnections and pull-ins with the production units.

According to Petrobras, the contracted company must also provide the cable and umbilical installation vessels for the offshore rollout.

The offshore units to be connected by the submarine network in the Campos basin are: P-48, P-56, P-51, P-43, P-40, PRA-1, P-55, P-52, P-62, P-54, P-57 and P-58. The contractor must follow this sequence for deployment.

According to the project’s technical details, the submarine cables are expected to have a lifespan of 25 years.


Both tenders come as Petrobras announced plans to have private 4G and possibly 5G networks serving 29 platforms in the Campos and Santos basins by the end of 2024. 

The 5G antennas will be deployed by Telefônica Brasil, but connected to fiber networks – hence why Petrobras aims to complete the deployment of a 1,600km fiber network in the two basins by the end of 2023.

In parallel to that offshore fiber grid, Petrobras is selling its onshore fiber network.

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