Derrick owners face US$122m bail payout

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 May, 2008, 12:00am

The mainland owners of Asia's largest floating derrick will have to put up US$122.41 million in bail money if they want to take the vessel out of Hong Kong.

The amount was set in the Appeal Court yesterday, over the objections of the owners of the Hua Tian Long who say it should be released immediately without security.

The amount was increased from US$65 million, set in the Court of First Instance, on an application from a Malaysian company which says it lost the money because the vessel did not show up for a 100-day contract last year.

The derrick, which came to Hong Kong to raise the sunken tugboat Neftegaz-67, was arrested on April 21 on a warrant obtained by oil and gas engineering firm Intraline Resources.

On May 14 Mr Justice William Stone in the Court of First Instance ordered that the security be set at US$65 million. Senior counsel Charles Sussex for Intraline won an appeal yesterday before Mr Justice Anthony Rogers and Mrs Justice Doreen Le Pichon.

Barrister Colin Wright, for the owners, the Guangzhou Salvage Bureau, contested that the vessel should be released without security.

Intraline claims it contracted the ship's owner to hire the vessel in June last year but the Hua Tian Long never showed up.

As a result, the company claims it was unable to fulfil various contracts to offshore oil projects.

In its claim, Intraline is seeking US$97.512 million in losses, US$1.5 million in legal costs and US$23.4 million in estimated interest.

The Ukrainian tugboat Neftegaz-67 sank in about two minutes after colliding with a vessel on March 22, killing 18 members of its crew.

Chornomornaftogaz, the Ukrainian company that owned the Neftegaz-67, contracted the salvage bureau to raise it, recruiting the Hua Tian Long for the job.