Nigeria ban on 113 Tankers: Potential legal implications for vessels calling Nigeria ports.

 

Interesting article issued by Tatham Macinnes LLP of the UK (and with our Thanks to them):

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Tatham Macinnes LLP

 

 

 

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Nigeria: Bans 113 Tankers from trading in its waters

Oil and shipping sources reacted cautiously Thursday to a document that said that state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has banned 113 oil tankers from entering Nigerian oil facilities and territorial waters.

The document was signed by Gbenga O. Komolafe, the group general manager of NNPC’s crude oil marketing division.

It stated that NNPC has prohibited 113 tankers “from engaging in crude oil/gas loading activities in any of the terminals within the Nigerian territorial waters until further notice.”

The letter dated July 15 was addressed to terminal operators in Nigeria. The tankers were listed in an attached spreadsheet.
“The affected vessels have also been barred from movements within the Nigerian territorial waters forthwith,” it said. “Finally, enforcement of the above directives takes immediate effect pending a notice to the contrary by Government, please.”

Sources at NNPC did not respond when approached for comment.

There was initial skepticism from some quarters about the veracity of the document, and oil and shipping companies were gathering information throughout the afternoon to try and verify it.

“We have been informed about [the ban] and it seems terminal operators will have to take that into account,” said an active buyer and seller of Nigerian crude oil.

Shipping and trading sources said the NNPC’s grievance with the shipping companies stems from issues surrounding outturns figures related to the crude oil exports at the port of discharge.

Sources said there have been a few incidents between Nigerian authorities and their crude oil buyers on differences between the volume of crude that was discharged, compared to the volume on the bill of lading.

“We hear it is about the outturn figures, as there are sometimes differences between the loading and discharge figures, especially with certain countries,” said a trader active in the West African crude oil market.

“We are currently gathering information,” said a source with a shipowner that would be impacted by the potential ban.

“A lot of market players have received the document and we have to take it seriously. The NNPC are asking for outturn figures but the receivers of the cargoes have this information, not the shipowners. They need to approach the cargo receivers, not the vessel owners,” he added.

Other sources said the ban could be related to “settling dues” such as port and maritime fees. The majority of Nigerian crude cargoes are lifted on Suezmax and VLCC tankers.

“We suspect it is part of a fallout from the level of scrutiny that NNPC is currently under,” a Nigerian crude oil trader said.

He added this may be part of the new government’s drive to target “vessels that have not paid dues or have been involved in incidents with the Navy.”

“In this new administration such lapses are being corrected,” he added.

Some sources said the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), had previously issued advice to vessel operators and owners to comply with International Maritime Organization directives to countries to phase out vessels that do not meet international standards.

They said some of the vessels in the list might fall into the category of tankers that did not meet the IMO standards.

Platts 17.7.2015

Schenker and Kuehne + Nagel colluded in rail freight cartel – Fined €49 Million By the European Commission

The European Commission has imposed fines of €49 million on DB Schenker Logistics’ Austrian forwarding and logistics subsidiary (‘Schenker’) and Express Interfracht (EXIF), part of the Austrian rail operator Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB), for operating a cartel along with Kuehne + Nagel on certain European ‘blocktrain’ services.
It said the three companies fixed prices and allocated customers for their ‘Balkantrain’ and ‘Soptrain’ services in Europe for nearly eight years.
DB Schenker Logistics (‘Schenker’) was fined almost €32m for its part in the cartel, while EXIF was given a €17m penalty. Kuehne + Nagel, also took part in the cartel but was not fined as it was granted immunity under the Commission’s 2006 Leniency Notice for revealing the existence of the cartel. The infringement lasted from July 2004 to June 2012 for all companies.
The Commission said the ‘blocktrains’ covered by the cartel were jointly operated by Kühne + Nagel, Express Interfracht and Schenker. ‘Balkantrain’ connects western and central Europe with southeast Europe, while ‘Soptrain’ connects central Europe with Romania.
In order to limit competition between them, the commission said the companies agreed on several restrictive practices: they agreed and allocated existing and new customers as well as setting up a customer allocation scheme including a ‘notification system’ for new customers; they exchanged confidential information on specific customer requests; they shared transport volumes contracted by downstream customers; they coordinated prices directly by providing each other with cover bids in respect of customers protected under their customer allocation scheme and coordinated sales prices offered to downstream customers.
Clarifying the legal entities concerned, the European Commission told Lloyd’s Loading List.com that the companies that were held liable in the blocktrain cartel were: ÖBB-Holding AG; Rail Cargo Austria AG; Rail Cargo Logistics – Austria GmbH; Express Interfracht Hellas A.E.; Deutsche Bahn AG; Schenker AG; Schenker & Co. AG; Schenker A.E.; Kühne + Nagel International AG and Kuehne + Nagel A.E., although as, the immunity applicant, K+N did not receive a fine.
In setting the level of fines, the Commission said it took into particular account the companies’ sales generated from rail cargo transport services related to the jointly operated blocktrains ‘Balkantrain’ and ‘Soptrain’, including ancillary transport services, the serious nature of the infringement, its geographic scope and its duration. Under the Commission’s 2006 Leniency Notice, Kühne + Nagel received full immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel, thereby avoiding a fine of more than € 62 million. Express Interfracht received a reduction of 45% and Schenker a reduction of 30% for cooperating with the investigation.
The EC said the fines ensured “an appropriate level of deterrence while remaining proportionate to the infringement”, and were set on the basis of the Commission’s 2006 Guidelines on fines.
The Commission added: “Intrinsic upstream coordination of the operators (joint purchasing of transport services, such as locomotion/traction, trailers and other equipment from national rail carriers) is not covered by today’s decision because such coordination to create a ‘blocktrain’ service is not anticompetitive. The decision solely concerns the collusion between the operators of the blocktrains in the marketing of the service.”
Kuehne + Nagel declined to comment on the case. DB Schenker referred questions from Lloyd’s Loading List.com to Deutsche Bahn’s corporate compliance department, which said it was checking with its lawyers before responding. However, a spokesman clarified that the case related to the Austrian entity of its DB Schenker Logistics business, not to its rail business.
The company also issued the following statement: “The DB Group is firmly committed to compliance with competition law rules and has fully cooperated with the competent competition authorities. The employees who were involved in the case no longer work for DB Schenker.
“The DB Group is currently evaluating possible damage claims against them. Should customers of DB Schenker have legitimate claims for damages based on the facts established by the EU Commission, we are of course open for discussions with them.”
The EC said Express Interfracht and Schenker had received reductions of their fines under the Leniency Notice for cooperating with the investigation. Since all three companies agreed to settle the case with the Commission, the fines imposed were further reduced by 10%.
Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “I find it very disappointing that a project to enhance transport efficiency and promote environmentally friendly cargo transport was derailed into a cartel. The European Union needs rail cargo markets to function efficiently on the basis of effective competition and not to be hijacked by vested interests to the detriment of customers.”
The Commision added: “Any person or firm affected by anti-competitive behaviour such as described in this case may bring the matter before the courts of the Member States and seek damages. The case law of the Court and Council Regulation 1/2003 both confirm that in cases before national courts, a Commission decision is binding proof that the behaviour took place and was illegal. Even though the Commission has fined the companies concerned, damages may be awarded without being reduced on account of the Commission fine.

“The Antitrust Damages Directive, which the Member States have to implement in their legal systems by 27 December 2016, makes it easier for victims of anti-competitive practices to obtain damages. More information on antitrust damages actions, including a practical guide on how to quantify antitrust harm, is available here

LLL 17.7.2015