Law of Tug and Tow and Offshore Contracts

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Standard form contracts: (iv) the bimco “bargehire 2008” form

Part A. The genesis of the “Bargehire” form

6.1 The publication by BIMCO of the standard form contracts “Towcon” and “Towhire” for ocean towage in 1985 was followed by consideration of a possible similar standard form contract for a common form of tow, being the larger forms of ocean-going and offshore barge. The large expansion of offshore activities connected with offshore construction projects and oil exploration and production had led to the increased use of specialised barges and the hiring in of these from barge owners by offshore operators effectively on bareboat or demise terms. BIMCO had a model in terms of a bareboat or demise charterparty in its form “Barecon 89”, introduced in 1989, but the simple use of this form was inappropriate since, as the explanatory notes to the “Bargehire 2008” form state, “barges are often chartered with owner’s insurance made available to the charterers. In this mode the contract is more akin to a time charter. However, it differs from that form of contract in that the owners exercise no control over the barge during the contract period and will rarely even know the location of the barge.” The result was the drafting of a dedicated barge demise charter being BIMCO’s “Bargehire 94.” The aim was:

to provide a balanced and practical agreement to serve the needs of those involved in the chartering of unmanned non self-propelled barges used for both offshore and civil work. The charterers of large and smaller barges are usually oil companies, construction contractors and fabrication yards who use the barges for transportation and storage of heavy and voluminous cargoes, such as modules for offshore platforms, in long and short term contracts.

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