French Tanker Owner To Fold

Thursday, July 26, 2001
French tanker operator Copamar said it would have to fold after a French court backed TotalFinaElf's decision to pull out of a five-year charter of two aged tankers. "We have cash-flow problems," said a source at Copamar. "We will certainly have to close. That's life," he added. He said the 25-year old Guri and the 30 year-old Gatteville had been taken on five-year charters by TotalFina in 1998, but the charters had been terminated 10 months ago. TotalFinaElf's decision to terminate the contract came during a change in chartering strategy last year. It said it would not use ships of over 25 years old in French waters following public outrage after the 24-year old Erika broke apart in the English Channel in December 1999, spilling 8,000 tons of fuel oil and polluting Brittany beaches. Shipping sources said a Cherbourg tribunal originally ordered TotalFinaElf to pay 30 million francs to Copamar for breach of contract, but this would now have to be repaid following TotalFinaElf's successful appeal. - (Reuters)
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