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Defunct Singapore ship fuel trader Universal Energy faces millions in claims
October 10, 2017 / 10:26 AM / 2 months ago

Defunct Singapore ship fuel trader Universal Energy faces millions in claims

* Creditors file $100 mln in claims against Universal Energy

* Universal Energy entered voluntary liquidation on Oct 3

* Exposure tightens credit in Singapore’s bunker fuel market

By Roslan Khasawneh

SINGAPORE, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Shipping fuel suppliers are filing millions of dollars in claims over unpaid marine fuel bills against now defunct Singapore-based peer Universal Energy, formerly one of the city state’s largest bunker suppliers but which has now entered liquidation.

Universal Energy, ranked as Singapore’s third-largest bunker fuel supplier by volume in 2016, had its shipping fuel licences revoked by the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) in August for actions that could give a false impression of how much fuel it was delivering to buyers.

Overall creditor claims against Universal Energy - which went into voluntary liquidation on Oct. 3 - total to about $100 million, according to estimates from several industry sources and a news report from oil pricing agency S&P Global Platts.

The case has sent shockwaves across Singapore’s bunker fuel market, the world’s biggest, tightening credit as financiers become more wary of the sector, trading sources said.

“We are still in the process of evaluating claims against the company and by the company, and cannot comment further,” said Abuthahir Abdul Gafoor, partner at law firm RSM Chio Lim, which is assigned as the case’s liquidator.

Danish bunker fuel trader Monjasa has filed a $909,000 claim against Universal over unpaid fuel bills, a court document seen by Reuters showed on Tuesday, and its representatives are due in court on Wednesday for a pre-trial conference.

Oon & Bazul LLP, Monjasa’s legal representatives in the case, declined to comment. Universal Energy is not represented by any law firm, according to the document seen by Reuters, and former officials from the company were not contactable.

Some of the largest creditors to Universal Energy include French bank Societe Generale, Swiss trading house Vitol and World Fuel Services, among others, industry sources said.

Vitol and SocGen declined to comment on the matter. World Fuel Services was not able to respond immediately outside of the business hours of media representatives in the United States.

Singapore, in a crackdown on short deliveries to bunker fuel customers, this year became the world’s first harbour to mandate the use of mass-flow-meters to minimise inaccuracies and errors in measuring delivered volumes of marine fuels.

The MPA in August also revoked the bunker craft and supply licence of Panoil Petroleum for what it said was unauthorized alterations to bunker tankers it operated. (Reporting by Roslan Khasawneh; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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