Brazilian Statement of Compliance (SOC) Certificate

November 18, 2010

Recently we were asked about the meaning of Brazil’s Statement of Compliance for Oil Transport (“SOC”) certificate and how it affects laytime. Although we are familiar with charter party clauses addressing an SOC inspection, we needed to research the underlying purpose of the certificate, the method for procuring it, and the length of its validity. That said, I would like to share what we have learned on this subject.

Foreign vessels trading petroleum or its derivatives in Brazil are required to have onboard a valid SOC as mandated under NORMAM-4. The Brazilian Navy regulates practical matters pertaining to navigation activities in Brazilian waters and issues, via the Port and Seashore Office (“DPC”), the Maritime Authority Rules (“NORMAM”).

Here’s an example of an SOC voyage charter clause that expressly stipulates that the Vessel cannot tender NOR until she is officially allowed to operate by the Brazilian Authorities:

Compliance for Carriage of Oil

In case, upon Vessel’s arrival at port, Brazilian Authorities (Navy) request Vessel to be inspected in order to obtain the “Compliance for Carriage of Oil” certificate, all time and/or expenses from Vessel’s arrival at port until Vessel is officially allowed to operate shall be for owner’s account. Six (6) hours Notice of Readiness (NOR) to start counting only after the Vessel has been officially allowed to operate by the Brazilian Authorities.

If, for example, a Vessel is directed to load at Campos Basin (located offshore of Rio de Janeiro), the Vessel must first call a Brazilian port e.g. Rio de Janeiro for customary clearance (Free Pratique, Customs, Immigration, etc.). Furthermore, if needed, the Vessel can be inspected for SOC issuance.

There are two methods that can be utilized for procuring an SOC: 1) the SOC can be issued via SIRE (Ship Inspection Report Program) or, 2) an onboard inspection by the local Port State Control (“PSC”). If issued by SIRE, the ship’s agents present the required documentation to the PSC who assesses the ship’s compliance without an onboard inspection; and, if the SOC is granted, it is valid for a maximum of 30 days.

The SOC’s issuance via SIRE may occur once every 12 months which means that after the 30 day period expires, if the ship trades in Brazil again within the following 12 month period the next SOC may not be issued via SIRE again but must have a compulsory onboard inspection by the PSC.

The documents required by the Navy for the Brazilian SOC include:

  • IMO Crew list
  • Ports of call list
  • Ship’s particulars
  • Certificate of Registry
  • IOPP (all pages including any supplement form)
  • Ship Certificate of Financial Responsibility for Water Pollution
  • P&I Entry Certificate with wreck removal clause
  • Last Port State Control Inspection Report
  • Ship´s construction Certificate

If anyone else has information or experience relative to this SOC topic, please share. Many thanks.