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CEO of fuel trader Chemoil dies in helicopter crash

SINGAPORE/JAKARTA (Reuters) - Robert Chandran, the chief executive and founder of Singapore-listed fuel trader Chemoil, has died in a helicopter crash in Indonesia, a company source told Reuters on Monday.

Chandran, head of the biggest supplier of marine fuel in the Americas with annual revenue of $4.4 billion, was involved in an helicopter accident while travelling in Riau, Indonesia, according to an investor relations spokeswoman for the firm.

Chandran began operations as a fuel trader in 1981. The Indian-born entrepreneur listed his marine fuel company Chemoil Energy Ltd in Singapore in 2006.

The firm, with a market cap of $640 million, describes itself as a “gas station for ships”, and competes with traders such as BP, Chevron Corp and Vitol as well as storage firm Royal Vopak.

It was not clear who would take over the firm. Other executives include Jerome Lorenzo, chief financial officer, John Beckman, vice president of operations and Adrian Tolson, vice president of sales and marketing, Chemoil’s Web site says.

Indonesian police and military spokesmen confirmed that there had been a helicopter crash in Riau province, adding that the helicopter had been carrying airforce officials and five civilians, and that one civilian was killed.

Zulkifli, a spokesman for the Riau province police, said the helicopter was involved in an accident as it tried to land near Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau province and a booming oil town.

Chandran was ranked 14th on the Forbes 2007 list of the 40 richest people in Singapore. Married with two children, he was estimated to be worth $490 million, according to Forbes magazine.

Chemoil shares closed up 4 percent at S$0.515 on Monday, but fell 16 percent in 2007, underperforming last year’s 17 percent gain in Singapore’s Straits Times Index after derivatives losses led to a loss in the third quarter.

The firm’s 450,000 cubic metre oil storage terminal in Singapore was expected to start operation in mid-January, with about half the capacity to be leased out.

Reporting by Yaw Yan Chong, Saeed Azhar and Ovais Subhani in Singapore, and Telly Nathalia in Jakarta