By Patricia Maresch, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Norwegian business ties with Brazil are rapidly expanding, especially in the areas of shipping, and the booming oil and gas industry. Norway ranks number seven on Brazil’s list of most important trading partners, and in 2010 the total trade between the two countries increased 47 percent from 2009 to US$2 billion.
Playing an important role in that is the Norwegian-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) located here in Rio. The NBCC was established in 1995 as a non-profit and non-political association to promote trade and foster business, financial and professional interests between Norway and Brazil.
Tor-Ove Horstad, the chamber’s president, explained: “The key is collaboration, and NBCC is here to share its expertise across the energy sector, as well as continue to build on partnerships across all industries. The idea is to help all Norwegian companies, young and old.”
This year Rio is seeing Norwegian Consul General Anne Vibeke Lilloe transitioning the role to incoming Consul General Helle Klem, after a period of intense progress. “Five years ago, there were around 65 Norwegian companies in Brazil. Now there are more than a hundred and another fifty Norwegian businesses work through an agent,” Lilloe explains on NBCC’s newsletter.
The Norwegian Consulate in Rio works in close connection with several Norwegian business entities to increase Norwegian interests in Brazil: Innovation Norway, the Norwegian Seafood export Council, the Norwegian Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and the INTSOK, a foundation that offers a range of services for the oil and gas industry.
“Brazil’s huge new oil and gas discoveries have made the country an even more valuable partner for us,” says Lilloe. “Norway has over many years developed advanced technology and services – which will be valuable for Brazil in the situation here now.”
Traditionally, bacalhau (dried cod fish) accounts for a quarter of Norway’s exports to Brazil, however, the huge new oil and gas discoveries on the Brazilian continental shelf have made Brazil an attractive market for oil companies and the petroleum-related supply industry.
The offshore Peregrino oil field, in the Campos basin, is being operated by the Norwegian oil company Statoil since the beginning of May. The Oslo based company has said it wants to become the second-largest producer of oil in Brazil, after Petrobras, within a year.
This would mean taking over the ranking of British-Dutch oil giant Shell when it achieves production of 100,000 barrels per day, and establishing Statoil on a list of giant multinational companies investing heavily in the Oil and Petroleum industry in Brazil.
To continue supporting these and other efforts, the NBCC organized a special event for Norwegian companies in Brazil on Norwegian Constitution Day (May 17th). NBCC celebrated what they call Norway Day – with a business seminar and Norwegian food and drinks together with some some hundred Norwegian and Brazilian guests. It also allowed NBCC’s president Horstad to thank the outgoing Consul General for all of her support throughout the years promoting Norwegian business in Brazil.