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BP Singapore bunker trial: Former Market Manager takes to stand as witness

09 May 2019

Manifold Times was present at the BP Singapore bunker trial on Tuesday (7 May). The following report represents a brief extract of the day’s trial:

The BP Singapore bunker trial continued on Tuesday (7 May) at the State Courts of Singapore with the cross examination of Eric Hu, the former Market Manager of BP Singapore Pte Ltd (2003 to 2010) and the ex-Key Account Manager of BP Taiwan (1996 to 2003) as witness.

Hu confirmed the claim of Koh Seng Lee, the sole shareholder and executive director of Pacific Prime Trading (PPT), of only being able to understand simple English when asked by Megan Chia, Partner at Tan Rajah & Cheah, acting for Koh.

“We communicated largely using either Mandarin or Hokkien in more than 99% of the time with very little English only limited to single words or [marine fuel] terminology,” he testified, while adding examples of “380” and “viscosity” as terms being used in English. 

According to Hu, Koh sometimes had to attend meetings involving BP colleagues from non-mandarin speaking countries. 

“Although he was involved in those meetings they were internal meetings among colleagues that will be speaking in English,” he said.

“We will let him speak when we need him to give further information. If he was not able to fully express himself, we will be able to help him. 

“There are not many times when we had such meetings with Mr Koh, but every time when we had such meetings we have to help him.”

Among other matters testified, Hu explained to the court how PPT managed to successfully compete against more than ten bunkering firms to become BP Singapore’s largest counterparty.

Hu estimated PPT and Vermont Singapore respectively taking between 40 to 50% and 30 to 40% of BP Singapore bunker sales volume in 2010, when he left BP Singapore.

“From my own personal view it was because PPT could fulfil a lot of the requirements set by BP; therefore, it rose from a small counterparty which had small share of the business to replace other counterparties with bigger share,” he said.

“And for its operations in the market it did not violate any of the BP requirements or criteria.”

Among BP’s criteria is the ability to purchase bunker fuel from BP’s ex-wharf operations for delivery through BP-vetted bunker tankers, a commitment to the development and growth of BP bunker sales quantity, and the safety and quality control of bunker oil, Hu further told the court.

“BP Marine has strict requirement for barges and we trust all counterparties to buy from us ex-wharf to use our barges […] for those who are unable to meet these requirements we will reduce business volumes for them,” he stated.

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Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 9 May, 2019

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