OOCL joins others in suspending services to Qatar

Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line has joined Maersk Line and Taiwan’s Evergreen in suspending services to Qatar. The move follows the cutting of ties to the Middle East Nation by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

The ban imposed early last week means that containerships and tankers are likely to be the most affected as they are prevented from calling at major ports in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, including Jebel Ali and Bahrain.

International law firm Hill Dickinson that the sanctions have prevented crew and personnel from joining or leaving vessels arriving from or calling at Qatari ports. A number of Qatari LNG tankers have deviated or returned to Qatar; and vessels have not been allowed to bunker where they have been destined for or have travelled to from Qatar.

Hill Dickinson also warned that owners, charterers, traders, ship managers, operators and insurers need to consider:

Charterparty sanctions clauses and trading limits to assess whether they respond to the current Qatari sanctions.

Will safe port/safe berth warranties be triggered as a result of calling at Qatar or at a port which has prohibited Qatari linked vessels?

Does the charterparty contain terms which specifically deal with blockades?

How does the charter party address deviations?

Are there force majeure or prohibition clauses in the sale contract which allow the parties to delay performance, provide alternative performance or cancel the contract?

Where cargoes are sold Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF), do the sale contract terms still require payment by the buyer even where the vessel cannot call at the discharge port?

Might a presentation of conforming shipping documents be refused under a letter of credit by reason of supervening illegality?

Where cargoes are sold Freight on Board (FOB) and the vessel cannot call at the load port, can the buyer terminate or will the seller be able to declare force majeure?

Will insurers’ consent or additional premium be required to maintain cover for the intended voyage?