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Arrested vessel is at the centre of a bunker spat

A bulk carrier arrested in Venice this week is at the centre of a dispute over an unpaid bunker bill in which discussions seem to have stalled, leaving the ship’s 22 crew in limbo.

DST Oslo (74,500 dwt, built 1999) spent over a month at anchorage just outside the Port of Venice, Italy, before being allowed to berth at the port of Marghera on May 1. Athens-based bunker supplier Termoil arrested the vessel earlier this week and has threatened the vessel with auction, local sources say.

Equasis names the vessel’s beneficial owner as Fearnley Business Management via registered owner Atlantic Panamax 2 AS, which is incorporated in Oslo. A Fearnley employee told Splash yesterday “it’s not one of ours”. The vessel is commercially managed by Thessaloniki-based DST Shipping.

Termoil is claiming in the region of $460,000 for an unpaid fuel bill dating back around a year. The original invoice was for around $300,000 or more, but legal costs, expenses and interest have been added by the bunker supplier, as is usual. One source claims the interest being charged is over 20%. Greek law caps interest rates on unpaid debts at 6% per annum.

DST Oslo had reportedly been fixed to load from the Continent to the Red Sea immediately after it had completed discharging cargo in Venice. Termoil has refused to lift the arrest and rejected offers of an assignment of part of the freight earned during the ship’s voyage to the Red Sea.  

Sources say the vessel has attempted to buy more bunkers and has enough fuel to reach a bunker port, but cannot get fuel on credit because of its arrest and is unable to pay in cash. One bunker supplier has reportedly asked for immediate payment of $1,800/tonne of marine diesel oil, around four times the usual market price.

Yesterday, local press reported that repatriation of the vessel’s crew had been commenced, but this appears not to be the case, having been impeded by Italy’s strict immigration rules, which prevent seafarers from disembarking without a visa, local sources tell Splash.

Reports that the crew has been surviving on charitable donations also appear to be erroneous. The vessel took on three months’ worth of provisions at Greece’s Port of Astakos on March 7-8, before spending over four weeks at the anchorage. The vessel still has sufficient provisions onboard for the next two months or so and enough fuel for the next 40 days while idle or for four days’ slow steaming, according to port agents’ reports seen by Splash.

One source with knowledge of the matter commented “the vessel and the crew are being kept hostage”.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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