8 Aug 2012

Dispute over Rena salvage bill

10:30 am on 8 August 2012

The fuel company Z Energy says it has been mistakenly caught up in a legal dispute with Rena salvor Svitzer.

Svitzer has filed a civil claim against Seafuels and Z Energy in the High Court in Wellington saying it was under duress when it signed a contract with Seafuels to use a bunker tanker, the Awanuia, to dispose of oil from the wreck.

Z Energy was using the tanker at the time and was compensated by Seafuels when the contract was cut short.

Svitzer has also lodged a claim against Z Energy over the level of the compensation, which it says contributed to an exorbitant bill.

A Z Energy spokesperson says the company has applied to be removed as a party to the litigation.

Svitzer hired the Awanuia for 43 days from October last year, extending the seven-day hireage contract 12 times.

The company has paid two-thirds of the bill of $9 million, but wants the short-term contract modified to reflect what it calls a more "reasonable rate of remuneration".

Seafuels denies any illegitimate pressure was put on Svitzer during the negotiations.