Glencore sued in US court over alleged off-spec HSFO

Ship owner Serifos Maritime is suing oil trader Glencore for $2.18mn for allegedly supplying its vessel with off-specification high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) in Singapore in March.

Serifos owns of 309,396dwt tanker Serifos (IMO 9410399), which had been fitted with a marine exhaust scrubber ahead of the 2020 introduction of new sulphur limits for shippers. A lawsuit filed in US federal court in New York alleges that in March the captain of the Serifos ordered 4,110 tonnes of HSFO for delivery in Singapore through bunker broker Socomet Bunkering. The fuel was supplied by Glencore.

Fuel samples were collected during the refuelling, but the vessel was on its way to its destination of Cap Lopez, Gabon, before the test results showing off-specification fuel were received. The laboratory detected 0.45pc of different organic chlorides, such as dichloroethane, trichloromethane and tetrachloroethylene.

The lawsuit asserted that “organic chloride components can decompose during heating of the fuel and, in the presence of water can form hydrochloric acid, a strong, corrosive inorganic acid” that is harmful to a vessel. The International Organization for Standardization requires that bunkers be free from inorganic acid.

The Serifos used 234 tonnes of Glencore’s bunkers, which were loaded in the same tank as 1,618 tonnes of previously purchased HSFO. The comingling slightly diminished the level of organic chlorides, but the vessel still encountered engine issues.

On its next voyage the Serifos diverted to Singapore, where Glencore removed the remaining off-spec bunkers and replaced them. Serifos sent Glencore an invoice for $2.18m.

The lawsuit was filed with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, where Glencore is incorporated.

Serifos Maritime Corporation v. Glencore Singapore Pte Ltd

Plaintiff:        Serifos Maritime Corporation

Defendant:    Glencore Singapore Pte Ltd

Case Number:         1:2022cv08012

Filed:  September 20, 2022

Court: US District Court for the Southern District of New York

2009-built, Liberia-flagged, 160,226 gt Serifos is owned by Serifos Maritime Corp care of Aeolos Management SA of Athens, Greece. It is entered with Gard AS on behalf of Gard AS. As of October 4th it was in the Bay of Bengal, en route from Ulsan, Korea, to Paradip, India, ETA October 3rd.