Despite it being almost six years since the 2014 oil price crash, there appears to still be only limited appetite for new investments in the offshore space, with many offshore investors and other stakeholders appearing to be keeping their powder dry until more obvious signs of an upturn are visible on the horizon. This article examines the current situation and some of the contracting solutions in the offshore markets.
Most parties involved in the shipping industry will by now have a clear picture of the requirements under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 2020 global sulphur cap on marine fuels. Therefore, attention has turned to the steps that must be taken to put these requirements into practice. Two clauses recently introduced by the Baltic and International Maritime Council aim to address certain contractual aspects of the IMO requirements as they apply to time charterparties.
Third-party ship managers are often required to issue letters of undertaking to financiers of a managed vessel on relatively unfavourable and financier-friendly terms. The Baltic and International Maritime Council's new standard ship manager's letter of undertaking, which was recently published, seeks to redress the balance and gives ship managers a more equitable set of terms, which may be used as a starting point for negotiations.
In 2014 the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority commenced an audit of the Norwegian International Ship Register. Subsequently, the EFTA Surveillance Authority opened a case against Norway for a possible breach of the European Economic Area Agreement. The case concerned a geographical trade limitation applicable to ships flying the flag of the Norwegian International Ship Register.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council recently released Barecon 2017, which represents an important update of one of the most commonly used maritime contracts. While several new features have been included, the basic structure of the form remains the same. However, several of the simplifications, clarifications and other updates should make the form easier to use in conjunction with rider clauses crafted for a specific transaction.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council recently launched a revised version of its standard time charter party for offshore support vessels – the Supplytime. Considering the form's broad application in practice, the 2017 edition's amendments and new features are likely to have a significant impact on issues facing owners and charterers.
It has been a brutal few years in the shipping and offshore markets with overcapacity, declining demand and the dramatic fall in oil prices all contributing to historically low charter rates and plummeting asset values. While in recent years owners have been battening down the hatches in a bid to survive, consideration is now being given as to how and when to act in order to seize the opportunities that may present themselves during recovery.
The Windtime - a new standard form charter party for personnel transfer and support vessels servicing offshore wind farms - is expected to be released soon by the Baltic and International Maritime Council in response to industry requests for standardisation. It will be interesting to see to what extent the industry embraces this first step towards standardisation of contracts, and what further efforts may be made in the future.
Maritime accidents which cause damage or injury to people, the environment or property are often followed by a police investigation. The master and crew of a vessel are frequently considered suspects and, as such, have certain procedural rights. As the entire crew is a defined group of persons that may have contributed to the accident, everyone within that group may be considered a suspect in particular circumstances.
In 2008 Norway implemented a new investigation system which separated the safety and criminal aspects of accident investigation. Following an international trend, the new rules gave the Accident Investigation Board the authority to investigate accidents to identify the circumstances of importance to improve overall safety at sea. The investigation of the grounding of Full City was the first test for the new system.