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Singapore: High Court grants former Integr8 Fuels Korean desk staff expedited ‘back to work’ status

Integr8 Fuel injunction varied by Singapore Court to allow former employees to start work at Hartree Group in December 2022 following failure to produce evidence on biofuels development plans.

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Singapore court

The General Division of The High Court of the Republic of Singapore on 16 December 2022 issued a Court Order allowing former Korean staff of bunker trading firm Integr8 Fuels Pte Ltd. (Integr8 Fuels) an expedited return to work.

Both were supposed to join commodities trading firm Hartree Group in October 2022 when Integr8 Fuels took its former Sales Director Kim Hyung Joon and ex-Senior Bunker Trader Han Donghoon (also known as Danny) to court over alleged confidentiality and competition infringement violations

Background

In court documents filed in October 2022, Integr8 Fuels claimed it discovered Mr Kim and Danny were planning to join the Hartree Group in October 2022 after the management of Integr8 Fuels, Navig8 Group and Hartree Group spoke in September 2022.

According to Integr8 Fuels, following this, the company conducted an investigation which revealed Mr Kim and Danny sending large amounts of information from their Intergr8 Fuels email addresses to their personal email accounts from June 2021 and September 2021 respectively onwards before leaving their former employer.

Integr8 Fuels later filed a “without notice” application on 26 October 2022 and obtained an interim injunction at a hearing on 28 October 2022 restraining Mr Kim and Danny, both unrepresented by a counsel at the time, from being involved in any businesses competing with the activities of Integr8 Fuels until 28 March 2023 and 13 April 2023 respectively.

Mr Kim and Danny were also restrained from using, disclosing and/or divulging to any third-party confidential information of Integr8 Fuels.

Latest court documents obtained by Manifold Times stated Mr Kim and Danny did not have an opportunity to address earlier allegations made by Integr8 Fuels at the 28 October 2022 hearing of the “without notice” application.

Since then, Mr Kim and Danny engaged counsel and thereafter filed an application to set aside / vary the interim injunction.

Company Email Accounts

In court papers seen by Manifold Times, Mr Kim and Danny, both experienced bunker traders prior to joining Integr8 Fuels, explained there was in fact no sinister or ill intent to steal confidential information before leaving Integr8 Fuels, as was suggested by Integr8 Fuels.

Instead, shortly after joining Integr8 Fuels in October 2020, as part of his work process, Mr Kim set up a macro on his office email account which auto-forwarded emails with certain keywords to his personal email account whenever he received emails from work email addresses.

Similarly, shortly after joining Integr8 Fuels in January 2021, Danny forwarded emails from his office email account to his personal email account and also vice versa (including to Mr Kim’s work email account) as part of his work process and due to the “laggy” IT set up at Integr8 Fuels.

Both Mr Kim and Danny, who provided documents to support their explanations, also agreed to delete all of the Integr8 Fuels emails from their personal email accounts to give Integr8 Fuels assurance there is no intention to misuse any information in the emails.

Inconsistent Restraint Periods

As to the length of the restraint period under the interim injunction (28 March and 13 April 2023) affecting Mr Kim and Danny respectively, both pointed out Integr8 Fuel’s position at the 28 October 2022 hearing was inconsistent with the position previously communicated to them.

Documents showed that, on 30 September 2022, prior to the commencement of legal action in late October 2022, Integr8 Fuels confirmed to Mr Kim and Danny in writing their restraint periods would end on 3 January 2023 and 25 January 2023 respectively.

Non-competition Clause

Separately, Mr Kim and Danny contended their intention to commence work with the Hartree Group in October 2022 did not amount to a breach of their non-competition provisions.

Mr Kim and Danny, who only traded in traditional marine fuels during their time at Integr8 Fuels, informed Integr8 Fuels in writing on 4 October 2022 that they intended to limit themselves to only being involved in the China and Asian biofuels markets except for Singapore and Korea for the period of their restraints.

Both further explained Integr8 Fuels had no proposed business plan to start trading or supplying biofuels within the last 12 months of their employment.

Integr8 Fuels Managing Director Tushar Gole, on the other hand, claimed “biofuels is an integral part of [Integr8 Fuels] portfolio”.

Finally, by reference to a screenshot of a conversation, Mr Kim contended Mr Gole knew as early as 5 July 2022 Mr Kim would be joining Hartree. Mr Kim contended Integr8 Fuels did not point out this out previously at the 28 October 2022 hearing because it did not fit into Integr8 Fuel’s narrative when it sought urgent injunctive relief on a “without notice” basis at the 28 October 2022 hearing.

Expedited Return to Work

On 16 December 2022, the Court heard Mr Kim’s and Danny’s application and varied Integr8 Fuels’ injunction to grant Mr Kim and Danny expedited “back to work” status.

The Court also varied the injunction to make clear Mr Kim and Danny are not restrained from using, disclosing and/or divulging to any third party any information which they were already privy to prior to them joining Integr8 Fuels and the Navig8 group of companies.

As part of its order on 16 December 2022, the Court gave Integr8 Fuels an opportunity to produce affidavit evidence by 21 December 2022 “demonstrating a transaction or genuine plans on biofuels” if it wished to restrain Mr Kim and Danny from being involved in biofuels until January 2023. Based on the court papers seen by Manifold Times, Integr8 Fuels did not produce such evidence.

As such, Mr Kim and Danny were able to be involved in biofuels from 22 December 2022 onwards and are now expected to be back in the market from 4 January and 26 January 2023 onwards respectively, as per their stated intention to Integr8 Fuels on 4 October 2022.

Related: Singapore: Integr8 Fuels files lawsuit against former Korean staff over alleged confidentiality violations

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 20 January, 2022

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Fuel Testing

Singapore: CTI-Maritec shares testing protocols ahead of mandatory enhanced bunker fuel checks

In light of mandatory enhanced checks for marine fuel delivered at Singapore port coming into effect on 1 June, CTI-Maritec shares recommendations for fuel testing protocols, primarily focused at COCs and SAN detection for bunker supply in Singapore.

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Louis Reed from Unsplash

With mandatory enhanced checks for marine fuel delivered at Singapore port coming into effect on 1 June, bunker fuel testing and marine surveying business Maritec Pte Ltd (CTI-Maritec) has published a newsletter providing recommendations on vital pre-emptive fuel testing measures vessels should be taking as part of their routine fuel testing and also recommendations on optimal testing options available when deep-dive analysis is required to determine a root cause: 

Introduction

On 8 February 2024 the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) issued a Port Marine Circular No 3 of 2024 regarding the implementation of enhanced testing parameters for marine fuel batches intended to be delivered as bunkers in the Port of Singapore in addition to the existing quality assurance measures.

In accordance with the MPA’s Port Marine Circular No 3 of 2024, from 1 June 2024 onwards, bunker suppliers in the Port of Singapore must ensure that:

  • Residual & Bio-residual bunker fuel do not contain Chlorinated Organic Compounds (COC) above 50mg/kg and are free from inorganic acids.
  • COC must be tested using the EN 14077 accredited test method and shall be reported in the “Certificate of Quality” (COQ) provided to receiving vessels.
  • Inorganic acids must use the ASTM D664 accredited test method as prescribed in ISO 8217 and the Strong Acid Number (SAN) (in addition to the Total Acid Number (TAN) shall be reported in the COQ (i.e. SAN = 0) provided to receiving vessels. For distillate / bio-distillate bunker marine fuel batches, SAN must be tested as per ASTM D664 test method and reported in the COQ.
  • Residual marine fuels are free from polystyrene, polypropylene & polymethacrylate. These can be tested by filtration, microscopic examination, & Fourier-Transform Infrared spectroscopy analysis.

Testing Recommendations in line with MPA Enhanced Parameters to Protect Your Vessels:

In view of the above, CTI-Maritec recommends fuel testing protocols as depicted in the chart below (as routine pre-emptive measures and/or for deep dive requirements to detect the root cause) to help safeguard vessel health.

Our recommendations are primarily focused at COCs and SAN detection for bunker supply in Singapore, while recommendations for testing Polymers are advised for requirements of reported problem cases or when highly abnormal GCMS findings of chemical compounds like Styrene, DCPD and Indene are detected.

COC & SAN GCMS testing Packages A to E

Related: Singapore: CTI-Maritec publishes whitepaper on upcoming mandatory enhanced bunker fuel tests
Related: Singapore: Marine fuel quality testing agencies applaud move for mandatory enhanced bunker fuel tests
Related: Singapore: MPA tightens testing parameters to reduce contaminated bunker fuels
Related: MPA: Glencore and PetroChina supplied contaminated bunkers to about 200 ships in the Port of Singapore

 

Photo credit: Louis Reed from Unsplash
Published: 29 May 2024

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Methanol

VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Firm was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol bunker fuel delivery to “Eco Maestro” in Singapore.

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VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Marine fuels testing company VPS on Tuesday (28 May) said it was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe, part of the OCI Global Group, to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol fuel delivery to Eco Maestro in Singapore.

Captain Rahul Choudhuri, President Strategic Partnerships, VPS, said VPS survey experts Rafael Theseira and Muhd Nazmi Abdul Rahim were at hand during the methanol bunkering to ensure the 300 metric tonnes of methanol transfer was carried out smoothly, having been involved in the first methanol bunkering a year ago. 

Manifold Times recently reported X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), and PSA Singapore (PSA) successfully completing the first simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS) in Singapore.

A X-Press Feeder container vessel, Eco Maestro, on its maiden voyage from Asia to Europe was successfully refuelled with close to 300 mt of bio-methanol by GET, a MPA licensed bunker supplier, using MT KARA

The ISCC-certified bio-methanol used for the SIMOPS was produced by green methanol producer OCI Global and supplied via GET, a ISCC-certified supplier.

Captain Choudhuri said the role of the marine, petroleum or bunker surveyor has evolved over the years in shipping and maritime affairs, but the principles have not - and that is to provide independent assessment of the quality and quantity of the product transfer. 

“This may seem obvious but this quality and quantity control is crucial to avoid commercial discrepancies, shortages or fraud,” he said.

“Safety training is critical and we have been on top of this having completed the required MPA fire-fighting course and the IBIA Methanol training course. We will work more with the Singapore Maritime Academy for trainings in future,” he added.

In August last year, Singapore-headquartered independent common carrier X-Press Feeders launched its first ever dual-fuel vessel Eco Maestro in China.

Manifold Times previously reported VPS stating it was the first company to complete a methanol bunker quantity survey (BQS) operation in Singapore on 27 July last year.

VPS was appointed by Maersk and Hong Lam Marine Pte Ltd, to undertake the very first bunker quantity survey (BQS) of a methanol fuel delivery, supplied by Hong Lam to the Maersk vessel on its maiden voyage to Europe. 

Related: First SIMOPS methanol bunkering operation completed in Singapore
Related: VPS completes quantity survey on Singapore’s first methanol bunkering op
Related: Singapore bunkering sector enters milestone with first methanol marine refuelling op
Related: X-Press Feeders launches its first methanol dual-fuel vessel “Eco Maestro” in China

 

Photo credit: VPS
Published: 29 May 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Gasum and Equinor ink continuation of long-term LNG bunkering agreement

Agreement builds on the success of the previous contract Gasum has had with Equinor; Gasum’s bunker vessels “Coralius”, “Kairos” and “Coral Energy” will be used for the bunkering operations.

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Gasum and Equinor ink continuation of long-term LNG bunkering agreement

Nordic liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker supplier Gasum on Tuesday (28 May) said it signed a long-term contract with Norway-based global energy company Equinor whereby Gasum continues to supply LNG to Equinor’s dual-fuel chartered fleet of vessels. 

The agreement builds on the success of the previous contract Gasum has had with Equinor. Gasum’s bunker vessels Coralius, Kairos and Coral Energy will be used for the bunkering operations.

The agreement also includes additional support services such as cooling down and gassing up, which has also been a part of Gasum’s previous collaboration with Equinor. 

Gasum has organised three separate LNG cool down operations for Equinor in Skagen so far this year.

Both Gasum and Equinor have committed to sustainability goals to enable a cleaner energy future. Equinor’s ambition is to become a net-zero emissions energy company by 2050.

Using LNG in maritime transport means complete removal of sulfur oxides (SOx) and particles, and reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions of up to 85 percent as well as a reduction in CO2 emissions by at least 20%. LNG is interchangeable with liquefied biogas (LBG/bio-LNG), which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 90% compared to conventional fuel such as marine gasoil (MGO).

With LNG and bio-LNG the maritime industry can reduce emissions already today, instead of waiting for future solutions. Gasum’s strategic goal is to bring yearly seven terawatt hours (7 TWh) of renewable gas to market by 2027. Achieving this goal would mean combined carbon dioxide reduction of 1.8 million tons per year for Gasum’s customers.

Related: Equinor Energy AS extends LNG bunkering agreement with Gasum
Related: Gasum expands LNG bunkering business to ARA region through partnership with Equinor

 

Photo credit: Gasum
Published: 29 May 2024

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