SINGAPORE, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Oil firms stepped up legal action against the Singapore units of bankrupt ship fuel trader OW Bunker with the arrest of a ship fuel delivery barge Laguna on Wednesday and claims totalling more than S$5 million.
Court documents seen by Reuters showed that the overall amount of claims made against OW Bunker Far East (Singapore) and Dynamic Oil Trading, both Singapore-based subsidiaries of the Danish firm, over unpaid supplies now total around S$5.3 million ($4.11 million) made by nearly half a dozen companies.
Law firm Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP issued a writ of summons on Nov. 8 on behalf of Hin Leong Trading against O.W. Bunker Far East (Singapore) for about $1.3 million worth of bunker fuel delivered to the vessel Laguna at Universal Terminal on or about Nov. 5, one of the documents showed.
The barge was arrested at 12.30 a.m. Singapore time (1630 GMT) by the law firm, according to another document.
OW Bunker has blamed fraud by unnamed senior employees for losses of at least $125 million at Dynamic Oil, but has not revealed any details. Those losses forced the company to file for bankruptcy in Denmark last week.
Reports in Danish media and trade publications have identified Singapore-based Tankoil Marine Services Pte as a counterparty in deals with Dynamic Oil.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) told Reuters it was “conducting routine checks on Tankoil Marine Services Pte Ltd” and that “this is part of ongoing efforts to ensure the safety, reliability and quality of bunker supplies in Singapore”.
A senior executive at Tankoil Marine Services declined to comment.
The firms that have so far made claims against OW Bunker or one of its subsidiaries in Singapore are: Hin Leong Trading, Golden Island Diesel Oil Trading Pte, Bunker House Petroleum Pte, Equatorial Marine Fuel Management Services Pte, Panoil Petroleum Pte.
Traders said further claims were likely.
“OW Bunker is a very large ship fuel supplier, perhaps even the biggest, so pretty much everyone in the sector had dealings with them or one of its subsidiaries,” one fuel trader said. “I’m sure every single one of them will try to claim back money owed.”
OW Bunker was estimated to have about 7 percent of the global market for bunker, a liquid fuel refined from crude oil and used to power ships.
The marine fuel sector, which is dominated by small and often thinly capitalized companies, was thrown into turmoil when energy markets began to tumble in June, with shipping oil prices shedding almost a quarter in value.
Another marine fuel supplier in Singapore, Vanguard Energy, filed for bankruptcy in the city state on Oct. 29. (1 US dollar = 1.2906 Singapore dollar) (Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Writing by Henning Gloystein and Florence Tan; Editing by Alex Richardson)
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