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Oil spill on Northeast Brazil beaches reach 9 States

For over one month now (44 days), an unprecedented extensive area along the shoreline of Brazil’s Northeast Region has been hit by an oily substance in the form of lumps of black tar, which origin remains unknown.

Substantial oil slicks were first spotted since at least 30 August 2019, but it was only weeks later they realised that the pollution was widespread and gradually reached the entire shoreline along the northeastern coast of the South Atlantic Ocean, heading south.

According to the federal environmental agency IBAMA, more than 70 municipalities in the nine Northeastern states – Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraiba, Pernambuco, Piaui, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe – have been reached by the oil spill in the course of recent weeks. The affected area spans over 1,370 nautical miles across sandy beaches, mangroves, reefs, and rocky coasts and varied fauna and flora, extending from Cururupu in the state of Maranhão to Arempebe in Bahia soon to reach the metropolitan area of Salvador, Northeast’s largest city, and beyond.

To date, more than 130 tonnes of oil waste has been collected on the many affected beaches, while oil-soaked sea turtles are being washed on the shores of the north-eastern coast, many of them already dead. Fish contamination and mortality and even dolphin are also being reported.

Petrobras stated that representative samples of the substance were tested, and it was concluded that the product that currently pollutes the pristine north-eastern beaches is crude oil, neither produced nor imported by Brazil.

A study by the Institute of Geosciences of the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), in partnership with the Federal University of Sergipe (UFS), points out that the oil is of Venezuelan origin.

According to the Brazilian environment minister Ricardo Salles, based on an alleged match between the samples tested and Venezuelan crude, it is likely that the product in question actually came from Venezuela, possibly carried on a vessel sailing near the Brazilian coast that accidentally or otherwise discharged it.

Official investigations Brazilian Navy’s Directorate of Ports and Coasts (DPC) has opened an administrative enquiry to determine the source of the oil spill. The procedure includes analysis of maritime traffic data, information collected by naval ships and aircrafts passing or patrolling the area.

Navy’s Integrated Maritime Safety Centre (CISMAR) is investigating maritime traffic in the region, comprising an area of about 36,000 square nautical miles in Brazil’s exclusive economic zone, with an emphasis on oil tankers. In just one month, CISMAR identified 140 tankers, some of which are being notified by the maritime authority to provide information.

The maritime authority – DPC – is also assisting the environmental agencies in the pollution response and conducting sea and air patrols; however, so far, no trace of oil has been found in the open sea, only in the coastal area near the beaches.

In accordance with the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC/1969) and the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (OPRC/1990), both signed by Brazil, the fines for oil pollution can reach R$ 50 million, without prejudice to other administrative and criminal sanctions and the polluter’s strict responsibility to fully repair environmental damage.

Year by year the shipping industry has been adopting good practices which consequently results in a substantial reduction of oil spill incidents. The industry is adopting measures aimed at the reduction of the environmental impact, such as IMO 2020.

The truth is that maritime transport is a matrix with less environmental impact than road transport that is so largely used in Brazil. Obviously it is necessary to investigate and identify the polluting source.

Bill releases companies from hiring 2/3 of Brazilian Seafarers

The Committee on Economic Development, Industry, Commerce and Service of the House of Representatives approved Bill No. 2.456/19, which puts an end to the compulsory reserve provided for by law, that requires companies operating in Brazil to hire 2/3 (two thirds) of Brazilian employees.

The approved Bill also establishes differentiated treatment to companies established in the country that hire Brazilian workers. It also revokes part of the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT), putting an end to the obligation to fire foreigners before Brazilians.

The Congressman supporting the Bill justifies that the Brazilian Constitution privileges free enterprise and free trade. For this reason, the national legislation must guarantee equal treatment between Brazilians and foreigners. The Congressman also argues that the proposed project is in line with the most dynamic and globalised economies, stimulating competitiveness, freedom of choice and establishing favorable treatment for those who willingly establish reserve policies for national workers.

Our partner, Mariana Félix, especialised in Labour Law explains that if this bill is approved by the National Congress and sanctioned by the President, it will bring direct consequences for local and foreing shipowners operating in Brazil. Because, according to the terms of the Bill approved by the Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, it will no longer be necessary for shipowners to hire Brazilians to compose 2/3 (two thirds) of the crew in order to operate in Brazilian waters.

CARF disapproves binding precedent that would harm ship agents

The Firm was represented today by our partner Jeová Costa Lima Neto, who accompanied the extraordinary session of the Administrative Council of Tax Appeals (CARF), in Brasília, which deliberated on fifty draft proposals. Among the proposals, we highlight the 49th Proposal for Binding Precedents, whereby “the cargo agent and the maritime agent, as local representatives for the international carrier, are liable for infringements committed in the carriage of goods by sea”.

The Binding Precedent was not approved! This closed another chapter in the long battle fought by the Tax Authority against ship agents – who suffer from the fact that The Brazilian Federal Revenue Office (RFB) imposes on them fines that should be destined to the international carrier. The binding precent proposed by CARF intended to give a final outline to the imbroglio, but in a completely unfavorable outcome to ship agents – essential figure for international maritime transport.

As agents of foreign shipowners who carry out international transport, ship agents perform important task of dealing directly with the complex intricacies of Brazilian bureaucracy.

Our office mission is to promote foreign trade, shipping mentality and Legal Certainty in and outside the courts, we are happy with the outcome of the non-approval of CARF’s proposed binding precedent!

Incentive Program for Cabotage Navigation and Foreign Vessels

Published in the Union Official Diary of this Friday, August 30, the approval of a the resolution of the Investment Partnership Council of the the Presidency of the Brazilian Republic with the directives for police making regarding an Incetive/Stimulation Program to cabotage transportation to be named “BR do MAR”.

The policy aims to:

  • Increase the supply and quality of cabotage transport;- Encourage competition and competitiveness in the provision of cabotage services;
  • Increase the availability of fleet in the national territory; encourage the training, training and qualification of national seafarers;
  • Stimulate the development of the national shipbuilding industry for the construction, jumborisation, conversion, modernisation, docking and repair of vessels used for cabotage navigation;
  • Review the interrelationship of cabotage navigation policies to shipbuilding policies;
  • Encourage special cabotage operations and investments in port facilities to meet cargoes type, route or market not yet existing or consolidated in Brazilian cabotage;
  • Optimise the use of resources from the collection of the tax – additional freight for the renewal of the Merchant Navy (AFRMM).

The Program Council considered that cabotage waterway transport was comparatively more efficient, safer and had lower environmental costs and impacts than road or rail. It has a greater participation of the waterway modal, especially cabotage transport, in the country’s logistic matrix is the most effective and expeditious measure to balance the excessive expenditures of the Union, States, Federal District and Municipalities in road and rail infrastructure projects;

The Council also considered the need to allocate areas located within public ports for temporary use and viability of investments to meet cargoes in type, route or market not yet existing or not consolidated in Brazilian cabotage, seen as essential for the reconfiguration of the logistics matrix of the country; the feasibility of the cabotage stimulation policy encompasses measures that optimise the use of Union revenues from the collection of the Additional Freight for the Renewal of the Merchant Navy (AFRMM), including to ensure investments in coastal navigation safety by the Brazilian Navy;

Actions and other measures to encourage cabotage, in particular those allowing greater participation of foreign vessels in Brazilian cabotage, will be considered of relevant public interest and strategically prioritised for all legal purposes; the powers assigned to the Special Secretariat of the Investment Partnership Program to strengthen national policies for the integration of different modes of transport of persons and goods, in accordance with national, regional and urban development, national defense, environmental, and environmental policies. security, formulated by the various spheres of government.

The Ministry of Infrastructure already foresees, for 2025, that the cabotage will have a 29% participation in the Brazilian transport matrix, through 205 waterway interventions, at a cost of R$ 15,8 billion.

Brazilian office is finalist for Lloyd’s List Americas 2019

Promare | Rabb Carvalho Advogados is among the seven finalist offices of the international award, organised by Informa Group, the Lloyd´s List Americas Awards. The firm competes in the “Maritime Law Excellence” category and the result will be announced at a ceremony in Houston on September 24.

The firm is based in North-Northeast Brazil and is competing for the Americas prize against the largest law firms in the United States, being the only Latin American law firm on the finalist list. This is the top prize in the entire Shipping industry.

Lloyd’s List Americas is the industry awards program that recognises and rewards excellence in all fields of the maritime industry. Through extensive research with players in the segment, Lloyd’s publishes a list of finalists, who are judged and chosen as the best by a community of associations and industry leaders, making the Lloyds List Awards a highly desirable award of distinction.

The exclusive maritime event will feature two expert-led discussions on how marine fuels have advanced and how they meet decarbonisation targets, coupled with the presentation of awards judged by a panel of data-proven associations and industry leaders.

The firm was founded in 1999 focused on maritime commerce based in the north- northeast of Brazil with national and international reach. The firm provides advice on maritime commerce with simple but legally safe business transactions, offering a pragmatic approach to all the areas that are strategic to the operation and expansion of a businesses in this sector.

Promare is a dynamic, modern office with traditional values based on commitment, proactivity, passion, integrity, strategic vision and results.

The North-Northeast runs through our veins and in recent years we have been hard at defending the logistics of Northern Arc and the players that use it. We operate in the region in Emergency Response system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in situations of Shipping casualties and incidents.

We are extremely honored to be part of the Lloyd’s List Americas 2019 exclusive shortlist. We thank all our staff for their excellent work and all our clients and partners for their trust. Honored to be representing our country and the North-Northeast region!

ANTAQ approves regulatory standard on storage services

The National Agency for Water Transport (Antaq) approved the norm that establishes regulatory parameters to be observed in the provision of container and volume handling and storage services at public and private port facilities, repealling the Resolution No. 2,389-Antaq, 2012.

Among other aspects, the now approved regulatory standard establishes criteria to be considered when billing the Terminal Handling Charge (THC) and the Segregation and Delivery Service (SSE), also known as THC-2.

The THC is the reimbursement of expenses for cargo handling services between the port terminal gate and the vessel’s side, including the transitory storage of cargo for the term agreed between the maritime carrier and the port facility or operator, in the case of exportation, or between the vessel’s side and its placement in the port terminal stack, in the case of importation.

SSE, on the other hand, refers to the collection, on importation, by the cargo handling service between the stack in the yard and the port terminal gate, not being part of the services paid by Box Rate, nor of the services whose expenses are reimbursed through the THC.

According to ANTAQ, prior to the billing of SSE, there will be electronic scheduling by the facility or port operator of operating windows to be made available continuously and regularly spaced, in order to serve all customers / users.The new rule applies to the private container handling terminals, in line with Law No. 12,815 / 2013 and Decree No. 9,046 / 2017.

Box Rate & Other Services

In accordance with the regulatory standard, the services contemplated in the Box Rate will be performed by the facility or port operator, upon remuneration freely negotiated, established by contract or disclosed in the price list.

In turn, the services not covered by the Box Rate and the storage, when demanded or requested by customers/ users of the terminal, will obey conditions and prices freely negotiated, with the maximum values being previously disclosed in price lists, in observation to the commercial conditions stipulated in the lease agreement and in the ANTAQ rules, forbidding abusive or harmful competition practices.

As a result, port facilities are required to disclose, with thirty days in advance, on their websites and terminal access, the maximum prices and detailed description of the services to be payed by the user, including application rules, deductibles and exemptions, if any.