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Bunker suppliers say shipping companies have been stepping up claims in an effort to delay or avoid making payments, given current difficult market conditions.
Several leading bunker suppliers have been telling Bunkerworld that more claims were lodged against them last year than in any other year. Complaints have ranged from short-changing to quality issues.
The managing director of the top supplier in a Far East port told Bunkerworld last November that his company had been facing “a mountain of claims which keeps increasing every month”.
He said buyers have been “trying their luck” to not make payments by lodging unsubstantiated claims.
The claims were mostly complaints about short quantity and bunker quality. "All these claims were false and we have no issues answering them," he said.
According to him, unnecessary time had been spent handling the claims, and more significantly, the company was unable to receive payments on certain deliveries until the claims are settled.
A trader for one of Singapore's largest suppliers told Bunkerworld recently that his company, which has an extensive global presence, was facing the same predicament.
He suggested it was because deepening losses across the industry are forcing shipping companies to focus on minimising cash outflow and maximising liquidity.
“Claims are an avenue for them to recover some money and/or delay payments due to unsettled claims and allegations,” he said.
A spokesman for one of Hong Kong's largest suppliers, however, told Bunkerworld that his company had not encountered an above average number of claims.
The possibility nevertheless loomed large given current market conditions; even as his company was yet to experience a spike in such claims, he said.
Do you think deepening losses have been forcing ship operators to make more unsubstantiated claims against suppliers in an effort to delay payment?