Voyage Charters

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Chapter 44

Excluded Cargoes – Vapour Pressure

(a) CARGOES EXCLUDED VAPOR PRESSURE. Cargo shall not be shipped which has a vapor pressure at one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (100°F) in excess of thirteen and one-half pounds 5 lbs.) as determined by the current A.S.T.M. Method (Reid) D.323.
(b) FLASH POINT. Cargo having a flash point under one hundred and fifteen degrees Fahrenheit (115°F) (closed cup) A.S.T.M. Method D.56 shall not be loaded from lighters but this clause shall not restrict the Charterer from loading or topping off Crude Oil from vessels or barges inside or outside the bar in any port or place where bar conditions exist.

“Vapor pressure”

44.1 The Reid Vapor Pressure of an oil cargo is an indication of the propensity of that cargo to gassify at normal atmospheric pressure and temperature. There are some generically described cargoes, for example, naphtha, which may sometimes have a high Reid Vapour Pressure. Whilst not necessarily a dangerous cargo when carried under correct conditions, it may be difficult to pump in high ambient temperatures without the use of deepwell pumps. Special care and precautions therefore need to be taken and thus cargoes with a Reid Vapour Pressure in excess of 13.5 pounds are excluded cargoes under the Asbatankvoy form, although the parties may stipulate in Part I of the charterparty for cargoes of higher Reid Vapour Pressure if they so wish. 44.2 The Reid Vapour Pressure of a cargo is to be ascertained in accordance with the current A.S.T.M. method. It is submitted that this means current at the time of loading, rather than at the time of chartering, because the exclusion is expressed in terms that the cargo “shall not be shipped”.

Flash point

44.3 Low flash point cargoes, that is, cargoes which ignite spontaneously at low temperatures (below 115°F), are not excluded as such. What is excluded is the loading of such cargoes in a ship-to-ship transfer. For this purpose, the clause appears to distinguish between, on the one hand, lighters and, on the other hand, vessels or barges, which to an extent is found also in clause 9. This distinction seems, however, to have no logical basis as the risks attendant upon any ship-to-ship transfer are the same irrespective of the size or designation of the ships involved. 44.4 The real distinction in the clause seems to be that between crude cargoes and other cargoes. Crude oil, by its very unrefined nature, will have fractions which have a low flash point. The clause expressly permits ship-to-ship transfers of crude. This permission is related,

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in part, to bar conditions, but it is only where such conditions, if encountered, are safe for the vessel that such transfers may take place, and this would probably be subsumed under the general heading of “safety” in any event.

U.S. Law


44A.1 The Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) Test has been raised in cargo shortage claims. In The Amelia Grimaldi,1 the panel held that cargo loaded with an RVP of 12.47 psi was not in breach of clause 13 and rejected the owner’s argument that this “excessively high” RVP rendered ROBs unpumpable. See also the dissent in The Abul Kalam Azad,2 for a discussion of certain crudes’ RVP and evaporation losses; and The Lito,3 where the owner was not held responsible for failing to foresee the risk of the phenomenon of crude oil vapor contamination causing a reduction of flashpoint.