Samir Moroccan refiner appeals court decision on liquidation

Morocco's tax administration has frozen the company's bank accounts in pursuit of a 13 billion dirham ($1.34 billion) tax claim. The Moroccan government has said Samir's total debt is around 44 billion dirhams.

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Moroccan refiner Samir appeals court decision on liquidation play

Moroccan refiner Samir appeals court decision on liquidation

(Zawya)
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Moroccan oil refiner has lodged an appeal against a court decision to put it into liquidation and named an independent trustee to Samir run the company, the refiner's lawyer said on Friday.

Samir, controlled by Corral Petroleum Holdings, halted production last August due to financial difficulties. "We had 10 days to file an appeal and we finally did it on Thursday," Samir's lawyer Abdelkbir Tabih said.

Morocco's tax administration has frozen the company's bank accounts in pursuit of a 13 billion dirham ($1.34 billion) tax claim. The Moroccan government has said Samir's total debt is around 44 billion dirhams.

The company warned last week it expected to report a wider loss for 2015 after the production halt and its bank accounts were frozen. It said it was still paying salaries and social contributions for its 1,200 workers.

As Morocco's only refinery, its closure would make the country entirely reliant on imports. At just under 300,000 barrels per day, Morocco's petroleum consumption is Africa's fifth largest, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The trustee, running the operation pending the appeal, is preparing to resume production at the company's 200,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Mohammedia refinery, located on the Atlantic coast near Casablanca, sources from the company said.

 

EIGHT MILLION BARRELS

One of the sources said the company may face difficulties in getting the crude to process after starting production.

The source added the refinery would start by processing a tanker of 120,000 tonnes of crude oil that has been stuck at Mohammedia port since August when the management announced it had halted production. The tanker was sent by Saudi's Aramco.

"The trustee has been trying to get the required authorisations to let it dock, but that tanker will last barely 5 to 6 days," the source said.

Samir has also launched a tender to buy 8 million barrels of regular Urals or Kirkuk crude oil for delivery from April through June, according to a company email sent to traders and seen by Reuters on Friday.

The tender will close on March 30 at 10 am local time (1000 GMT) and all cargoes are for delivery to the port of Mohammedia.

Business news website Medias24, which first reported the tender, said Samir might get a deal with a trading house already exposed to its financial difficulties. Medias24 said Samir would receive the crude and pay back by refined products.

The court has given Samir until June 20 to continue business as usual pending a final solution for the company.

Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi, owner of Corral Holdings which controls 67.26 pct of Samir, has been negotiating with the Moroccan government, but talks have failed so far to find a solution to the refinery's crisis.

Morocco's government said it would do everything possible to recover unpaid taxes and protect the refinery's workers.

($1 = 9.7225 Moroccan dirham)

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