India’s Bhatia, Vitol in $50 mn coal dispute

Kalimantan Coal
LONDON: Bhatia Coal India, a subsidiary of the Bhatia International Group, has terminated a coal supply contract with traders Vitol and has initiated arbitration
proceedings to settle a payment dispute, Bhatia officials said. The arbitration hearings will be held in London during the next few months and will be subject to English law, the officials said. They were unable to give more details such as the amount of coal or money involved because the matter is sub judice. Vitol declined to comment. The amount in dispute that is owed to Vitol is in excess of $50 million, one source close to the dispute said. “We cancelled the contract so there is no non-performance on Bhatia’s part,” a senior Bhatia official said. A source close to the issue said Bhatia cancelled the contract in order to avoid loading South African coal cargoes in every quarter this year which were bought in 2008 as part of an annual supply deal when prices were over 70 percent higher than present levels. It has become the norm in coal trading as it has been for many years in oil for companies which have both sales and purchases with each other to simplify settlement by “washing-out” several deals so that the party which owes money overall makes a single payment. There has been a rash of arbitration cases to settle disputes between Indian traders who did not perform on coal contracts signed before the plunge in prices last September and international suppliers. In many instances suppliers said they have re-negotiated prices and re-scheduled deliveries to Indian buyers instead of going to arbitration.

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