In October 2009 BIMCO initiated a project to develop a suite of standard bunker clauses for use in time charter parties. The rationale behind developing the suite is simply to address the ever increasing importance of bunker issues in time charter parties and the need to ensure that the risk of bunker disputes is minimised by clearly worded clauses that reflect legislative developments. The Suite of Clauses was adopted by BIMCO’s Documentary Committee at its meeting in Vancouver in June 2011.
The Suite provides clauses covering matters relating to delivery/redelivery bunkers; bunkering operations; sampling; fuel testing programmes; and ECA trading, all of which are matters that are frequently absent from or insufficient in many standard time charter parties. Many older time charter forms contain bunker clauses covering the fundamental principles under the charter, but simply do not contemplate today’s situation where vessels are required to carry and use several grades of fuel and where sampling and testing regimes are an integral part of the process.
It is not the intention that BIMCO’s Suite of Bunker Clauses should be a direct replacement for the existing bunker clauses in a time charter - there is, for example, no intention to deal with the actual pricing or quantities of bunkers, as this will already be dealt with. What the Suite offers is a means of supplementing standard time charters with bunker provisions that are missing or poorly worded. Each clause within the Suite is designed to be self-standing and independent of the other clauses in the Suite. As always, users should be careful when incorporating any additional clauses so that the new clauses do not conflict with existing provisions.
The current suite of standard bunker clauses for use in time charter parties consists of:
The following explanatory notes provide some background to the thinking behind the Types and Quantities of Bunkers on Redelivery clause
The clause addresses bunkers on redelivery ensuring that whatever various types of fuel were on board at delivery are also on board at redelivery. If the vessel is delivered to the charterers outside an Emission Control Area (ECA) where there is no requirement to have low sulphur fuel on board, but the vessel is redelivered within an ECA, then the charterers are obliged to provide low sulphur fuel in sufficient quantities for the vessel to be able to reach the next nearest bunker port where further supplies of such fuels are available.
Failure by the charterer to redeliver the vessel in accordance with this Clause will result in a breach of charter dealt with by background law. BIMCO contemplated adding wording providing a mechanism for compensation to the owners by the charterers should they redeliver the vessel without with the same types of fuel on board as at delivery. However, it was decided not to include such a provision as it was felt that it could be a potential dispute breeder as the charterers could, potentially, use it as an entitlement to redeliver the vessel contrary to the provisions of the first paragraph.
Originally published in BIMCO Special Circular No. 4, 4 November 2011 (Updated 25 June 2014) - BIMCO Suite of Bunker Clauses for Time Charter Parties