April 24 - HLPFI South American correspondent, Rainbow Nelson reports from the Intermodal South America event which took place in Sao Paulo this week.

Heavy lift specialists, Deugro and Beluga Shipping are stepping up their presence in Brazil to cash-in on the resilience being shown by the "star" of the Americas.

Amidst the global crisis Brazil has been identified by specialists as "the least affected" by a dramatic contraction in credit available for large-scale infrastructure projects.

Beluga Shipping is opening an office in Sao Paulo while Deugro, will add an office in Rio de Janeiro to complement its Sao Paulo team.

Both have their eyes on the boom in cargo stemming from the expansion of Brazil's energy sector, including offshore oil exploration plans for the pre-salt oil fields off the coast of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo.

Patrick Fallon, the director heading up Beluga Shipping's new office from May said that Brazil was feeling the global crisis less than other regions.

"Brazil is a country that is expanding with oil and gas it really has been the country that hasn't stumbled as much in this crisis," he said.

Deugro, executive vice-president, Klaus Strahmann echoed the view that the Brazilian economy was attracting the attention of global players due to its resilience in the face of a dramatic downturn felt since September last year.

"We have a lot of projects coming in Brazil, it is still a booming market," he said. While companies developing largescale projects in the infrastructure and energy sector had experienced some problems in securing finance, Strahmann said the problems were not as extreme as other parts of the world.

"Here in Brazil there has been a delay to some projects but they haven't cancelled those projects," he said, in stark contrast to some other regions.

The company already has a team of 10 project managers in Sao Paulo but will be adding up to four people in Rio de Janeiro to build its proximity to key companies including state-controlled energy giant, Petrobras and the world's second largest mining group, Vale.

Beluga has been introducing its P2 series of vessels capable of handling units of more than 900 tonnes, as it seeks to strengthen its position in Latin America.

"I really hope to present Beluga a little better to the market. Our capabilities are not as well known as they should be. We have a very strong engineering department, very strong tonnage and excellent port captains," he says. From September onwards, the company will receive the first of its P2 series vessels, with lift capacity of between 800 tonnes and 1,400 tonnes. "The new ships are really getting in the range of a jumbo," said Fallon. "We will be going after the really large modules, reactors, these are the market we are looking at here in Brazil," he said.