What shall we do about bad bunkers?
Danish shipping organization Danske Rederier recently held a seminar that revolved around bad bunkering and dealing with the issue which is a current and problematic one. The seminar was attended by shipping companies, suppliers, insurance companies and lawyers, and many of the representatives from these fields used the platform to exchange information and knowledge.
"Choosing a supplier is crucial for a shipowner's ability to pursue a claim for damages. If the supplier has no funds nor liability insurance, it will be difficult to obtain a compensations for damages. It is also important to make sure that the contract indicates that disputes are resolved in a country where the courts are impartial and transparent, "says Henriette Ingvardsen, Commercial Legal Director of Danske Rederier.
At the seminar, where experts from Hafnia Law, Lauritzen and Dan-Bunkering discussed the issue at hand, shipping companies, suppliers and insurance companies participated. Evidence of bad bunkering is one of the industry's biggest challenges, and here all interested parties can exchange information and knowledge with advantage.
A crucial point of the issues is documentation. If shipping companies can document that oil from one distinct delivery ship has caused problems for numerous shipping companies, it is evidently a proof that the oil in question is the source of the problems.
Several shipping companies have experienced problems with bunkers that have been delivered in Houston, Panama and later in Singapore. Although not all the ships that have experienced problems, it seems that the ships that have experienced problems all have certain things in common, one of them being clogged filters.
Because of this Mathias Steinø, lawyer from Hafnia law, made a list of things that shipping companies should be aware of when they seek compensation for damages from their suppliers.
• Proof and documentation is crucial for a successful in order to obtain compensations for damages. It is important to invite all parties to surveys, save engine parts that are replaced, keep photo documentation, and make detailed registrations in the machine log.
• The location of oil onboard the ship should be noted and an overview should be made of the latest bunkering done on the tank which the potentially damage bunker supplied oil to.
• A sharp focus on deadlines for warranties towards suppliers is necessary. Suppliers will often be able to reject the complaints because the complaints appear after the agreed upon time deadline for complaints, although very short deadlines for some countries' rights may be overridden.
• The character of the components found in bunkers over the latest period does not paint a clear-cut image of the oil’s quality. It is important to be aware of what version of the ISO-specification 8217 is agreed upon by the two parties.
This can have an impact on whether or not the delivered bunker fulfills the contract or not.
Source: Danske Rederier / Maritime Danmark