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  • 2017 October 18 19:36

    Experts to assess damage caused by tanker’s allision with Primorsk port’s pier

    The 13th Arbitration Court of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region has postponed the hearing of two cases related to the allision of the Aframax tanker Delta Pioneer with a pier at Primorsk port caused by spontaneous release of the towing line in November 2016. According to IAA PortNews correspondent, the Court of Appeal postponed the hearing till 21 November 2017, the Arbitration Court of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region – till 7 November 2017.

    The Court of Appeal ruled that an expert assessment should be commissioned to evaluate the recovery of damaged port infrastructure for a corresponding decrease of the rental payment.

    Representative of Delta Tankers, the tanker operator, requested at the first instance court that Judge Nina Korzh be recused.  

    The dispute caused by the incident consists of two cases. The first one is the case of damage recovery. The ruling of the first instance court (Judge Nina Korzh) is currently under appeal at the 13th Arbitration Court of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region (Judge Ilya Sotov). The claimants are Transneft-Port Primorsk LLC, the pier owner, and Commercial Sea Port of Primorsk LLC, the lessee. Later, Transneft lawyers brought an action to impose an enforced seizure of the tanker. That is the second case at the Arbitration Court of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region (Judge Nina Korzh).

    Greek ship owners are defended by the lawyers of Lex Navicus Concordia and Saveliev, Batanov & Partners – Konstantin Krasnokutsky and Sergei Savelyev. The interests of Transneft are represented by the lawyers of Delcredere Bar Association.

    At the Court of Appeal session held on 17 October 2017, representatives of the ship owner, referring to the first instance court’s judicial proceeding violations, insisted on the necessity of the expert assessment. Following an earlier substitution of the Judge with Nina Korzh, the case dealing with billions of rubles was considered at two sessions without commissioning of an expert assessment though the damage caused by the tanker varies, according to different specialists, from RUB 350 mln to RUB 1.1 bln. According to the estimates of Transneft, the damage is RUB 2.3 bln with Commercial Sea Port of Primorsk claiming additional damage of over RUB 700 mln for the repair and leasehold interest decrease. Besides, representatives of the ship owner emphasize that the damage claimed by Transneft and by the port operator overlap each other as they mean the same assets. The claimants’ representatives say, in their turn, that the damage has already been assessed by Ernst&Young to the request of Transneft. 

    Representatives of the counterparts and the third party, tugboat owner Rosnefteflot, made suggestions on expert bodies and on the issue wording. On 17 October 2017 the judges did not make a decision on the expert assessment and postponed the hearing till 21 November 2017 to submit an official request to expert bodies. 

    During the hearing of the second case at the Arbitration Court of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, representative of Delta Tankers requested that Judge Nina Korzh be recused. At the previous hearing the same request came from the representative of the tanker owner, Pontoporos Special Maritime. The company explains the request with a chain of irregularities bringing up questions about fairness of the team of judges chaired by Nina Korzh. According to the company, the original documents with the court orders on the tanker arrest were marked with the word “approved” written by the same unidentified person. Those orders were made in 2016 by Judge Olga Klinitskaya and Judge Yekaterina Karmanova. When considering the marks, Judge Nina Korzh decided that the person approving the court orders is not identified and there is no need to see into the matter. After that, Judge Yekaterina Karmanova handed over the case of Commercial Sea Port of Primorsk LLC to Judge Olga Klinitskaya. That is how the case initiated by Transneft was integrated with the case on recovery of damage from tanker owners. Then, say the layers of the defendant, Judge Olga Klinitskaya ruled to lift the arrest under the guarantee of insurance club West of England. However, the next day, the court’s decision on lifting the arrest weirdly disappeared from the court case file and in several days it was replaced with a decision to reject the arrest lifting on the ground of wrong decision mistakenly uploaded into the system. Simultaneously, yet another replacement of the Judge took place - Olga Klinitskaya, who fell ill, was replaced with Nina Korzh, chairman of the bench, who then fully upheld the claimants’ demands.

    On 20 November 2016, the Aframax tanker Delta Pioneer (flag of Greece) allided with dolphin No 6 at Berth No 1 in Primorsk port (Leningrad Region). The vessel was maneuvering to the berth when the stern towing line given to the tanker from Rosnefteflot’s towing tug RN Poseidon broke up. According to the State Maritime Rescue and Coordination Center of RF Transport Ministry, the tanker damaged two sections of the berth catwalk.

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