It is perhaps surprising that there is at present no industry-wide harmonized set of terms and conditions agreed for one of the most everyday shipping operational activities, the purchase and supply of bunkers. All that is hopefully about to change with the announcement of BIMCO's Standard Bunker Contract 2015 that was approved for publication at the organisation’s bi-annual Documentary Committee meeting held in Copenhagen on 7 November.
The objective of the new BIMCO bunker terms is quite simple – to provide carefully thought through terms and conditions that are fair to both parties and provide a comprehensive starting point for negotiations. Harmonization will help bring certainty to these negotiations and assist parties to a bunker contract manage their risk and reduce the likelihood of disputes occurring.
According to Grant Hunter of BIMCO’s Contracts and Clauses section, “recent events in the bunker industry emphasize more than ever the importance of having a good solid contract in place should anything unfortunate occur. Clearly stating the obligations, responsibilities and liabilities of both parties is fundamental – don’t wait until something goes wrong before discovering that the contract you have agreed is lacking in some important element. The BIMCO terms provide a solid starting point for bunker negotiations and the more people that use them the smoother the process will be”.
The new standard terms and conditions for bunker purchases will be published by BIMCO with accompanying explanatory notes by the end of the year. Like all BIMCO standard forms it is available for use both by members and non-members alike.