Irrespective of how the construction of a vessel is financed, the shipyard and its financiers will require that the buyer pays a percentage of the contract price before delivery. This pre-payment may be lost to the buyer if proper security is not put in place. The provision of refund guarantees is the most common way in which this is achieved, but progressive title transfer may in some cases be an alternative method for securing the buyer's position.
The commercial practice of delivering cargo to a recipient against a charterers' letter of indemnity without the production of bills of lading has long been commonplace in the shipping industry. The split of the delivery process into two stages can cause issues for owners that rely on the standard letter of indemnity wording, which refers only to the delivery of cargo and not its discharge. Given this risk, it is sensible for shipowners to ensure that discharge is explicitly covered in any letters of indemnity issued in their favour.
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.
Keeping pace with the changing nature of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector, the traditional long-term LNG time charter market is evolving and charter periods are becoming shorter. The fixing of LNG carriers on shorter-term and more flexible contracts is a sign that the LNG industry is becoming much less rigid. It has resulted in owners and banks having to adjust their traditional approach to LNG ship financing and agreeing to more market exposure.
When a ship has reached the end of its life, the owners are faced with the decision of how to dispose of it in a manner that is both commercially viable and environmentally sustainable. The controversial practice of beaching vessels in less-developed countries has prompted initiatives to tighten regulations on the recycling of ships.
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.
A 'bill of lading' may be defined as a receipt for the goods delivered to and received by a ship. The holder of a bill of lading is entitled against the shipper to have the goods delivered to it and is thus in the same commercial position as if the goods were in its physical possession, subject to the fact that it runs the risk of non-delivery of the goods by the shipowner and may be obliged to discharge the shipowner's lien for freight.
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments recently achieved the required number of signatories and will thus enter into force in September 2017. The convention is expected to have a significant impact on ships engaged in international trade, requiring them to manage their ballast water and sediments to certain minimum standards and install onboard ballast water management systems.
In 2015 the Association of Ship Brokers and Agents, the Baltic and International Maritime Council and the Singapore Maritime Foundation published a revision of the 2015 New York Produce Exchange (NYPE) form – 27 years after the 1993 revision was issued. NYPE 2015 is more extensive than its predecessors and provides far greater standardisation of commonly used clauses.
Difficult market conditions motivate cost savings wherever possible, which includes expenditure relating to the general maintenance of vessels. Following an increase in disputes concerning the condition of vessels at the time of redelivery under a bareboat charter, questions have arisen as to the charterers' duty of maintenance and what can be done to avoid disputes.
The new 'SUPERMAN' agreement published by the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) governs the contractual relationship between third-party ship managers and shipowners for the provision of technical supervisory services during construction, repair and conversion projects. The agreement completes BIMCO's suite of 'cradle-to-grave' pro forma shipping agreements available to shipping professionals.