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'Arrested' Topaz vessels free to trade again in Nigeria

'Arrested' Topaz vessels free to trade again in Nigeria
A High Court injunction freezing the movement of three Topaz Energy and Marine vessels in Nigeria has been lifted, the Dubai-based OSV operator says.

Seatrade Maritime News revealed last week that a disgruntled business partner, Cutra International Ltd, had filed an ex-parte motion – essentially a restraining order - blocking the vessels from trading in or leaving Nigerian waters.

Cutra International reportedly also filed an associated law suit seeking $9m in damages for an alleged breach of contract with the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State and the centre of the country’s oil industry.

Topaz hoped for a “prompt resolution” to the dispute given that the value of the damages claim was significantly lower than the value of the impounded vessels - two PSVs, the twin 32,000 dwt Amani and Seema, and the crew boat Breeze. It appears to have been achieved that with the Mareva Injunction reportedly lifted yesterday.

“The court has ordered the lifting of the restrictions on all three vessels and they are free to trade as of yesterday,” a Topaz spokesman said Wednesday.

There is no indication of whether Cutra International is still pursuing damages for the alleged breach of contract. Justice Ibrahim Watila adjourned the case until September 9 after granting the original Mareva Injunction on August 17 “pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit”.

The immediate movement of Amani, Seema and Breeze is also unclear.

Topaz has six vessels currently deployed under its Africa arm where it operates out of Nigeria and Angola with a workforce of 237 offshore and 27 onshore staff according to its 2015 annual report. Energy major Total is Topaz’s biggest client in Nigeria.