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Collapse of OW Bunkers - different jurisdictions going different ways

Collapse of OW bunkers has had a ripple effect and led to a lot of difficulties for shipowners in various jurisdictions. There were competing claims from the physical suppliers and ING (OW Bunker’s assignee as it had provided working capital to OW) and they started arresting vessels all over the world. Do the owners need to pay twice for the same fuel was the basic question? If NO then to whom should they pay?

As expected different jurisdictions gave different answers.

  • UK Supreme Court’s ruling means owners might end up paying twice.

  • Cases are still going on in the US. Two different results have been handed down by CA for 11th Cir very recently. In one case it was held that OW bunker (and ING as its assignee) had a maritime lien on the vessel whereas the physical supplier did not and therefore all payments for unpaid bunkers must be directed to ING. In another case, the court went for an equitable remedy by allowing the physical supplier to get paid in full.

  • Singapore seems to side with OW bunkers (and ING) instead of physical supplier whilst Canada went the other way.

Unfortunately there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to address the concerns of owners, physical suppliers and parent bunkering company.

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