A pairing of Norwegian floater specialist BW Offshore and Italy’s Saipem has emerged as the front runner to land a coveted contract with Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell for the supply of a mid-sized production unit to serve its Gato do Mato pre-salt development offshore Brazil.

Multiple contracting sources told Upstream that BWO-Saipem has leaped ahead of rival Japanese player Modec in the race to provide Shell with a floating production, storage and offloading vessel for the Gato do Mato project in the prolific Santos basin.