13 April, 2017
A new standard form contract for the chartering of vessels supporting the international offshore oil and gas industry is expected to receive final approval in June.
The 'Supplytime 2017' proforma, developed by the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), is in the final stages of a lengthy consultation process. Once approved, the proforma will replace the previous Supplytime 2005 contract.
Shipping law expert Bruce Craig of Pinsent Masons, said that the new contract was expected to be "far more balanced between owners and charterers than its predecessors were".
"BIMCO is primarily a ship owners' association, and not surprisingly their various proformas tend to be favourable to owners rather than charterers," he said. "This has resulted in charterers often being reluctant to contract using the proformas, and the oil majors in particular are keen to use their own styles."
BIMCO is the largest international shipping association. Its members, which are based in more than 120 countries and include managers, brokers and agents, control around 65% of the world's shipping by tonnage.
Part of the work of the association includes producing proforma shipping contracts for use by its members. Supplytime 1989, its first proforma for vessels used in the offshore oil and gas industry, was published in 1989. It was last updated in 2005 in the form of the Supplytime 2005 contract.
Although the use of proformas can assist with the contracting process, shipping law expert Bruce Craig said that both owners and charterers should be careful only to use them as a "starting point" in their commercial negotiations.
"A proforma should never be approached on the basis that only the blanks need to be completed," he said. "The approach must always be 'don't be a slave to the form'."
For further information, please contact:
Ian Laing, Partner, Pinsent Masons