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DS Norden in USD 2 million claim against Global Energy Trading over alleged off spec bunker fuel

20 Nov 2020

Lawyers representing shipping firm Dampskibsselskabet NORDEN A/S (DS Norden) and Singapore bunker supplier Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (Global) met at a pre-trial conference organised by the High Court of the Republic of Singapore on Tuesday (17 November) to discuss matters relating to a bunker claim, according to documents obtained by the Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times.

Claim by Dampskibsselskabet NORDEN

DS Norden was seeking for a total claim of USD 2 million (exact: USD 2,066,063.03) and SGD 22,000 (exact: SGD 22,283.00) from Global over loss and damages from the supply of alleged off-spec low sulphur 380 centistokes (cSt) 0.5% bunker fuel to Nord Gemini, Nord Titan, Ocean Rosemary, and Luzern at Singapore port in or around January 2020.

About 997.985 metric tonnes (mt) of the material was delivered to Nord Gemini on 4 January; 359.102 mt to Nord Titan on 17 Janaury; 1,196.303 mt to Ocean Rosemary on 21 January, and 498.407 mt to Luzern on the same day (21 Janaury).

“The Bunkers supplied and/or delivered by the Defendant were unusable (in fact worse than unusable given that they were potentially or actually damaging to the respective Vessels’ engines) and the Plaintiff is entitled to the return of the price paid on a total failure of consideration and/or in restitution,” alleged lawyers in DS Norden’s statement of claim.

The bunker orders were placed through global commodities trading and logistics house Trafigura Pte Ltd., according to the documents. The orders under the ISO 8217:2010 fuel quality standard specified a maximum sulphur content of 0.50% and Total Sediment Potential (TSP) limit of 0.10% amongst other parameters.

An initial fuel analysis conducted by the owners of the four vessels after respective bunker deliveries found fuel samples to be off-spec.

Subsequent joint analysis conducted by Trafigura, DS Norden and the owners of the four vessels claimed an excessive TSP level for the bunkers supplied and delivered by Global; in addition, fuel delivered to the Luzern had excessive sulphur levels.

  • Nord Gemini: TSP: 0.17% (Supplier’s sample)
  • Nord Titan: TSP: 0.17% (Supplier’s sample); 0.11% (Vessel’s sample);
  • Ocean Rosemary: TSP: 0.12% (Supplier’s sample); 0.14% (Vessel’s sample);
  • Luzern: (a) TSP >0.50% (Vessel manifold); 0.35% (Vessel tank); (b) sulphur content: 1.05% (Vessel manifold); 0.79% (Vessel tank).

Defence of Global Energy Trading

Lawyers representing Global stated: “Any remedy DS Norden may have lies in a contractual claim against Trafigura, which DS Norden is actively pursuing against Trafigura through arbitration proceedings in London.”

They added there was no duty of care by Global to DS Norden, amongst other arguments.

“There is altogether no basis for any claim (in negligence or otherwise) by DS Norden against Global,” the lawyers explained.

“DS Norden’s attempt to found a claim in negligence against Global is an attempt to circumvent its contractual bargain with Trafigura.

“DS Norden chose to contract with Trafigura rather than Global, and should not be allowed to better its bargain and sidestep the risk exposure negotiated and agreed between parties. In the premises, the present claim is frivolous, vexatious, and an abuse of court process.”

Further tests of bunker samples conducted by Global with a SAC-SINGLAS Accredited Laboratory later revealed the following results:

  • Nord Gemini: TSP 0.10% m/m (within spec)
  • Nord Titan: TSP 0.09% m/m (within spec)
  • Ocean Rosemary: **
  • Luzern: TSP 0.29% m/m and sulphur content 0.96% m/m (exceeding spec)

**Test results not shared in court document

Testing done on the samples obtained at the time of delivery and retained by Global indicated the bunkers supplied to Nord Gemini, Ocean Rosemary and Nord Titan conformed to the specification required by the Bunker Standards and Regulations, said lawyers.

In summary, Global’s legal team stated, amongst others, that:

DS Norden’s present claim against Global is an attempt to circumvent:

  • the contractual bargain that it had made with Trafigura;
  • the risk exposure that it had chosen through the terms of its contract with Trafigura;
  • the fact that it had chosen not to contract with a licensed bunker supplier in Singapore for the delivery of the bunker fuel to the Four Vessels; and
  • the fact that it had not contracted directly with Global.

“Global denies DS Norden is entitled to any of the reliefs claimed,” they stated.


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 20 November, 2020

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