Law of Tug and Tow and Offshore Contracts

Page 205


Standard form contracts: (iii) the bimco “supplytime 2017” Form (together with its predecessor “supplytime 2005” and the “windtime” variant)

Part A. The Genesis of The “Supplytime” Form

5.1 The large expansion of offshore activities connected with oil exploration and production in the early 1970s led to an increased demand for supply vessels and other offshore service vessels. Initially, contracts for the provision of the services of such vessels tended to be concluded on the basis of the in-house form of the larger tug owners or on the basis of an adaptation of one of the standard time charterparty forms. But with the increase in this specialised trade, the need was felt for a uniform contract to form the basis of individual contracts. BIMCO was approached by trade interests and the “Supplytime” form was produced in 1975. 5.2 Since that time the offshore industry has become still more sophisticated and the range of services being provided by vessels has become still wider. Major operators of such vessels and the members of the International Support Vessel Owners’ Association suggested a revision of the form. A Joint Working Group set up by the Documentary Council of BIMCO set to work on a revision of the form with the following objectives:
  • – To prepare a document which strikes a fair balance between owners and charterers;
  • – To prepare a document which would be as “timeless” as possible and, therefore, to be written “up-market” thereby, hopefully, avoiding the need for rider clauses;
  • – To ensure that the document be as internationally applicable as possible;
  • – To try to clarify the document by use of apt words and trade terminology so as to, hopefully, obviate or reduce the possibility of disputes on interpretation of clauses;
  • – During the preparatory drafting work to invite trade interests to comment on this project with a view to obtaining the broadest possible support from users in the trade.
5.3 The result was the “Supplytime 89” form. The major change to the old form was the adoption of a regime of liability between owner and hirer on the same “knock-for-knock” basis as that adopted by BIMCO under the “Towcon” and “Towhire” forms (cf. clause 15 of the former “Supplytime” form, which represented a more traditional charterparty exceptions clause in favour of the owners). The “Supplytime 89” form proved to be a remarkably popular and durable standard form contract. The needs of the offshore industry in terms of the provision of a host of potential services by vessels of all kinds for periods of varying durations to a wide range of offshore installations has meant that a general template time charterparty, suited to and adapted to the needs of the offshore industry, with a mutual allocation of risk rather than strict charterer/owner division of responsibility, such as “Supplytime” has filled a gap and, for the most part, has filled it successfully. The form has become very much a “maid-of-all-work” in the offshore industry and this has led, as with the BIMCO towage forms before it, to it being used on occasion for situations for which it was not designed to cater. As BIMCO in its explanatory notes to the new “Supplytime 2017” form records: “The very first edition of SUPPLYTIME appeared in 1975. It was developed to meet the demand for specialist support vessels to serve a rapidly growing offshore oil and gas exploration and production industry. Since then, SUPPLYTIME has become the benchmark for offshore support vessel agreements – and the industry’s contract of choice. It

Page 206

has also been widely adopted by other sectors looking for a contract offering a comprehensive knock-for-knock framework.” 5.4 As part of its standard revision and updating of forms, BIMCO undertook a detailed review of “Supplytime 89” and issued a new edition of the contract in 2005. This is the “Supplytime 2005” form, which is the form until very recently currently in use and which has proved equally popular in the industry, having almost largely supplanted use of the previous 1989 version (although one encounters contracts still modelled on the older form). The 2005 form in large part corresponded to the “89” form, although there were important changes to various aspects of the form, principally bringing it into line with changes in BIMCO standard time charterparty clauses since 1989. (Reference may be made to the second edition of this work for provisions of the “Supplytime 89” form which have not survived the revision process as indicated in greater detail below, for example, the “Mutual Recourse of Waiver” contained in Annex “C” to “Supplytime 89.”) 5.5 The continuing process of revision by BIMCO of its forms has brought “Supplytime” round for reappraisal and reconsideration once again. An extensive process of consultation and redrafting started in 2015, with, as usual, representatives from across the industry (Maersk Supply Service, Dong Energy, Subsea 7, Fearnley Offshore Supply, the Standard P&I Club, and Ince & Co, chaired by Ian Perrott) all participating in the revision of “Supplytime 2005.” The new form, “Supplytime 2017”, was adopted by BIMCO on 6 June 2017. The principal goals set by the drafting committee were summarised by them in the explanatory notes which accompany “Supplytime 2017” as follows:

The revision of SUPPLYTIME 2005 is part of a periodic cycle of updates by BIMCO to ensure that its standard contracts remain relevant and appealing. Although the offshore sector is currently experiencing a severe downturn, BIMCO contracts are designed to be “market neutral” in the expectation that market conditions will vary over the lifespan of a standard form.

The rest of this document is only available to i-law.com online subscribers.

If you are already a subscriber, click Log In button.

Copyright © 2024 Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited. Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited is registered in England and Wales with company number 13831625 and address 5th Floor, 10 St Bride Street, London, EC4A 4AD, United Kingdom. Lloyd's List Intelligence is a trading name of Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited.

Lloyd's is the registered trademark of the Society Incorporated by the Lloyd's Act 1871 by the name of Lloyd's.