The Superior Court of Justice has reversed previous Sao Paulo State Court rulings and recognised the validity of foreign ship mortgages in Brazil. Respecting the acts of sovereignty of countries where vessels are registered, the court highlighted the economic importance of acknowledging ship mortgages of foreign states and emphasised that large vessels must be registered in their flag states and that these registrations have extraterritorial effects.
The Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels recently published Notice of Public Consultation and Public Hearing 20 in order to collect input regarding the new rule which will increase the flexibility of the local content rules provided for in concession contracts entered into between the seventh and 13th bidding round for onerous assignment, as well as the first production sharing bidding round of the exploration of oil and natural gas blocks.
The initial expectation from some market analysts with respect to the outcome of Brazil's 14th bidding round was conservative, with Brazil's political turmoil and the downturn in the oil and gas sector clearly inciting this uncertainty. However, it seems that the government's initiative to extend the special customs regime for the import of rigs, vessels and equipment until 2040, as well as its adjustment of the rules in relation to local content requirements, ensured the round's success.
Federal law provides that all vessels registered before Brazil's port captaincies must buy the mandatory insurance for personal injury caused by vessels or their cargo. However, such insurance has been discontinued due to a lack of insurers willing to underwrite the risks involved. Now, after a number of passenger fatalities in recent accidents, industry players and the government are being called on to ensure that policies are offered which soften the burden borne by victims and their families.
The Ministry of Labour recently published Ordinance 790, amending Regulatory Standard 34 on Working and Environmental Conditions in the Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Industry. The amendments also regulate ship demolition activities. According to the Ministry of Labour, this is because the Brazilian fleet is aging and thus the demand for ship demolition activities may increase.
A majority of the Supreme Court recently ruled that the rules and international treaties limiting the liability of passenger airline carriers – in particular, the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions – prevail over the Consumer Protection Code. Among other things, this decision means that the value of compensation for lost luggage will be limited to the threshold set out in Article 22 of the Warsaw Convention and the amendments made by subsequent international agreements.
Legislative Bill 5018/2016, which is pending approval in the House of Representatives, requires vessels to use an automatic system to measure fuel during navigation. The bill seeks to increase the safety of navigation by preventing vessels from beginning their journeys using precarious methods to assess the quantity of fuel, which can result in fuel exhaustion – a serious risk for the safety of passengers and crew and navigation of the vessel.
A recent decision rendered by the Brasilia Federal Court of Appeals suspended one of the most anticipated Petrobras international tenders for the charter and operation of a floating production, storage and offloading unit in the Libra field, the largest oil field in the pre-salt region. The suspension will remain in effect until the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels rules on Petrobras's local content waiver request.
President Michel Temer recently enacted Law 13.365/2016. The law makes the participation of Petrobras as the exclusive pre-salt operator optional, while setting out Petrobras's pre-emptive right. With the enactment of the new law, the Brazilian government is preparing to conduct the second production sharing round, which will offer four pre-salt areas, in the second half of 2017.
Brazil's National Industry Confederation recently asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to terminate the maritime transport agreement between Brazil and Chile. A representative from the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the government's decision on this matter will consider the position of not only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but also the Ministry of Transport, Ports and Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services.
The Sao Paulo Court of Appeals recently upheld a first-instance decision that, by virtue of subrogation, the insurer was subject to all of the insured's ancillary rights and obligations, including the carriage contract's arbitration clause. The decision sets an important precedent and reinforces the need for insurers to assess all aspects and limits of an underlying carriage contract entered into by the insured before issuing insurance cover.
The National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels recently published Notice of Public Consultation and Public Hearing 9. The consultation and public hearing sought comments regarding the enactment of a regulatory act which will declare whether maritime vessels used to acquire seismic data that were built or remodelled in Brazil between 2008 and 2015 fall under the local content exemption rule.
As of May 2016 Rio de Janeiro has begun to levy a new state environmental control and inspection tax on the control, monitoring and supervision of research, mining, exploration and production of oil and gas. All legal entities authorised to conduct such activities are subject to the tax.
The Brazilian National Agency for Waterway Transportation (ANTAQ) recently published Normative Resolution 5/2016, which approves the rule for providing authorisation to legal entities to perform transportation activities in coastal and deep-sea navigations or operate in offshore and port support navigation.
The end of Petrobras's monopoly in the pre-salt exploration may become a reality in the near future. Bill 4567/2016, which was recently approved by the Senate and remitted to analysis and approval by the Chamber of Deputies, aims to amend Law 12.351/2010, which regulates the exploration and production regime in the pre-salt area. If passed, the bill will help to attract new investors and allow other companies to be in charge of the exploration.
The presidency recently published Decree 8605, enacting the International Labour Organisation's revised Convention 185/2003 and attachments, which address the new seafarers' identity document. The convention applies to all persons who are employed in any function on board a vessel (other than a war vessel) and habitually engage in maritime navigation.
The Rio de Janeiro government recently approved Law 7,182/2015. The law introduces a state environmental control and inspection tax on the control, monitoring and supervision of research, mining, exploration and production of oil and gas. The tax has faced strong criticism from oil companies which emphasises that, in addition to being questionable from a juridical standpoint, it may have a devastating effect on investments in the sector.
The Rio de Janeiro government recently released Law 7,183/2015, which was published on December 30 2015. The law establishes a value added tax system (ICMS) for operations related to the circulation of goods and on the performance of services for interstate and intercity transport and communication. It will be levied on oil transfer operations between oil wells and concessionaires.
The Administrative Council for Economic Defence (CADE) recently fined two port operator companies operating in the Santos Port. CADE found that the imposition of the terminal handling charge known as 'THC-2' for customs-bonded dockside terminals at the Santos Port was anti-competitive. On appeal, the appellate court overturned CADE's fine and affirmed that CADE should not intervene in issues relating to the THC-2.
Brazil and Norway recently signed a memorandum of understanding in order to expand and enhance their cooperation in relation to maritime transport. The memorandum lists areas such as offshore support services, vessel charters and maritime transport auxiliary services as areas for cooperation. The memorandum came into force as of its date of signature and will remain in force until further notice.