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Aker Adds 850 Subsea Services Jobs in Brazil

Aker Adds 850 Subsea Services Jobs in Brazil

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20 April 2016

Aker Solutions has been in the news often over the span of the last year for layoffs at its subsea services facilities in Norway, in addition to cuts in its topside maintenance division. Last month, Aker said that it would cut 600 permanent positions at its subsea division in Norway, through both normal attrition and redundancies. The cuts came in addition to 1,000 layoffs announced in its global subsea business last year, as the firm said that it was restructuring operations in order to target new markets.

But on Tuesday it announced good news for jobs, with the creation of 850 positions at its new subsea oil and gas equipment plant in São José dos Pinhais, Brazil.

The plant, formally opened on Tuesday, will manufacture Christmas trees and other subsea equipment, and Aker says that it will be the first facility in the country to be able to deliver complete subsea wellhead systems.

"The facility will build on and strengthen our nearly four-decade presence in Brazil, which is a key global offshore market with significant deepwater and subsea potential," Aker Solutions' CEO Luis Araujo said. "It reinforces our commitment to developing local competence."

The firm is also upgrading its subsea services division in Rio das Ostras.

The investments follow a new contract with the embattled state-owned oil firm Petrobras for subsea equipment maintenance and services. Aker has had a long-term relationship with Petrobras, and has delivered about 200 subsea Christmas trees to the firm since 1997. It already employs about 1,300 people in Brazil.

"The new plant enables us to cost-effectively support Petrobras' production and growth plans and deliver on our existing order backlog in Brazil," said Maria Peralta, head of Aker Solutions' Brazilian operations.

Petrobras is embroiled in a long-running corruption scandal over its contracting practices, but Aker has not been implicated. A subsidiary of Akastor, a firm spun off by Aker in 2014, has been named in connection with the Petrobras probe, and is conducting an internal investigation.

Separately, analysts suggested Tuesday that Petrobras could be a big beneficiary if the country's opposition parties impeach President Dilma Rousseff.

Vice President Michel Temer, who would take power if Rousseff were impeached, is considered open to industry calls for changes to oil rules brought in by her Workers' Party over the past decade. Rousseff's critics have said the policies, aimed at boosting state control of huge offshore discoveries, drove up costs, limited output and built up Petrobras' crippling $126 billion debt, the largest of any oil company.

"First off, Petrobras will no longer be used as a tool for monetary policy," said Edwin Gutierrez, head of emerging market sovereign debt at Aberdeen Asset Management in London, pointing to a longtime policy of keeping gasoline prices artificially low to keep a lid on inflation.

Likely changes would include an end to strict local purchasing laws for ships and oil platforms, new layoffs to add to the tens of thousands already imposed nationwide, an end to minimum Petrobras involvement in key offshore oil developments and a wholesale selloff of Brazilian oil assets to foreigners.