Ship-to-ship (STS) operations tranfers in Brazil have never been regulated, but from 1 December 2021, a new regulation by the National Waterway Transport Agency (ANTAQ) governs such operations.
ntil now, neither the federal agency nor other regulatory bodies closely followed STS transfers offshore Brazil, meaning that the number of operations in recent years is uncertain because of lack of monitoring.
The tendency is for STS operations to increase substantially in the face of new deepwater discoveries and offshore auctions, as well as technological improvements
says Proinde, the UK P&I Club’s Brazilian Correspondents.
More specifically, instead of introducing strict rules and interfering with a fast-developing market while bringing legal certainty, the federal agency defined the applicable modalities and regimes, set general guidelines, and required shipping companies to report their STS activities.
ANTAQ Resolution 59/2021 provides the following main definitions for clearances and permissions:
- Ship-to-Ship Operation (STS): Consists of the transhipment or transfer of oil and oil products, natural gas, and biofuels between vessels located in Brazilian jurisdictional waters, without the use of pipelines, shore tanks, or waterway terminal pumps ashore. When the transferred cargo originates or is destined for floating facilities subject to registration with ANTAQ as supporting facilities for waterway transport, it will not constitute an STS operation. Likewise, offshore delivery of fuels and lubricants (bunkers) to ships will not fall within the definition.
- STS support activities: Those carried out by maritime support ships (when operating in an unsheltered area) or port support ships (in a sheltered area) that do not carry cargo.
- Transhipment area: It is the georeferenced region in which the maritime authority allows STS operations to take place. STS operations are allowed with vessels moored or anchored in a sheltered area, moving in a place where it is impossible to drop anchor, or in a mixed process, in which the approach and mooring are made with the vessels in motion and the cargo transfer with one of them at anchor.
According to Proinde, despite the fact that the federal regulatory agency has not imposed an obligation of prior authorisation for STS operations, under the new Resolution, the so-called Empresa Brasileira de Navegação, which carries out such operations, even with chartered ships, is required to submit reports to ANTAQ on the monthly throughput and the length of stay of the vessel in the same transhipment area.
Activities to be reported include offloading onto fixed or floating platforms, including drilling rigs, cargoes originating from or destined for floating storage units (FSU), floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) connected to shore terminals, or in tankers.
Failure to comply with the reporting requirements outlined in the Resolution is an infraction that may lead to administrative sanctions by the regulatory agency, without prejudice to further penalties within the jurisdiction of other authorities
Under the existing laws and regulations, ships and platforms operating in Brazilian waters have the duty to report maritime casualties and incidents, especially if they involve personal injury or potential environmental damage.