Vessel Arrests in Singapore, India as ING Ramps Up Collection of OW Bunker Debts

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Tuesday September 15, 2015

Three product tankers last week were arrested by ING Bank (ING) as the Dutch financial giant moved to collect outstanding OW Bunker debts.

Two product tankers controlled by Indonesia's Berlian Laju Tankers (BLT) were arrested in Singapore last Wednesday, records from the Supreme Court of Singapore showed, following action taken by local law firm Oon & Bazul LLP (Oon & Bazul).

Separate records show the arrests of Celosia and Iris were made following instruction from ING who is claiming $198,465.40 and $213,793.84 respectively in costs relating to unpaid bunkers.

Ship & Bunker understands that the vessels were released yesterday after an appropriate security payment was made, with data from showing as at Tuesday morning the vessels are underway.

Separately, reports also point to ING being behind last week's arrest of Dong Jin Shipping controlled product tanker Sunrise Eco in Sikka, India over outstanding bunker costs.

The South Korea-flagged vessel is understood to have been released following a security payment of some $250,000, and the vessel has since been moored in Karachi since last Friday.

The arrests could signal the start of a new phase in the OW Bunker story, after a report last month by Tradewinds revealed that ING had written to owners threatening to arrest vessels if bunker bills remained unpaid.

Owners have been holding off on making payments, saying they were unsure if the funds should be paid to OW Bunker or the physical supplier.

The timing of ING's action follows the recent decision by a UK court that the supply of bunkers is not a sale contract falling within the country's Sale of Goods Act.

As Ship & Bunker reported earlier this month, a significant factor in the ruling is that title to the bunkers was never actually passed, meaning OW Bunker can rightfully pursue what amounts to a contractual debt with the buyer, while the physical supplier can pursue a concurrent claim for the actual bunkers.

As ING is understood to have no intention of passing on payments to the physical suppliers, in order to receive payment the physical suppliers seem to have no other option than to pursue their own claims, leaving vessel owners open to paying twice for the same bunkers.

Last month German law firm Dabelstein & Passehl said that the risk a vessel will be arrested in Germany for unpaid bunkers as a result of the collapse of OW Bunker is "limited."