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Fujairah issues new Qatar 'sanctions' notice

UAE bunker hub releases update to its previous announcement on June 5.

Updated on 13 Jun 2017 00:44 GMT

The Port of Fujairah issued a new circular on Monday related to 'sanctions' on vessels with links to Qatar; it amends the port's previous announcement, released on June 5.

In Monday's notice, the UAE port explained that last week's circular had been amended after receiving instructions by the Federal Transport Authority - Land and Maritime (FTA), which said that:

1. UAE ports cannot receive any Qatari-flagged vessels or ships owned by Qatari Companies or Qatari individuals.

2. UAE ports are not permitted to load or unload any cargo of Qatari origin.

3. UAE ports cannot allow ships to load any cargo of UAE origin to Qatar.

The new restrictions differ from those announced last week, which stated that "vessels flying flags of Qatar or vessels destined to or arrival from Qatar ports are not allowed to call Port of Fujairah and Fujairah Offshore Anchorage regardless their nature of call till further notice".

Commenting on the wording of today's notice, Rania Tadros, managing partner at law firm Ince & Co in Dubai, remarked: "The FTA notice differs in substance to notices which have been issued by some of the ports within the UAE during the course of the last week, and it will be interesting to see how the measures are now implemented.

"Of particular relevance is the fact that there is no reference to vessels not being given port clearance if the last port of call or next port of call is Qatar. As Fujairah Port has now updated its circular, this should mean that vessels which have loaded in Qatar and wish to bunker in Fujairah may be able to do so as long as they are not Qatari flagged or owned."

Suez Canal access

Tadros observed that there has been no suggestion from the Egyptian authorities that they will extend their actions to include restricting access to the Suez Canal for Qatari vessels and cargo. There have been recent suggestions that two Qatari owned vessels changed course as they were approaching the Suez Canal.

"There has been considerable speculation over access to the Suez Canal. Although Article 1 of the Convention of Constantinople (1888) provides access to the Canal to all vessels, irrespective of flag, Article 10 permits the Egyptian authorities to take measures for the defence of Egypt and the maintenance of public order. Accordingly, it is possible that Egyptian Authorities could use Article 10 as a reason to prevent entry. However, blocking Qatari vessels/vessels carrying Qatari cargo would have a significant impact on trade and trading patterns and there is no current indication from the Egyptian Government that it is adopting such a stance," Tadros said.

Contractual implications

Ince & Co also highlighted several contractual considerations for shipping companies facing disruption from the situation in Qatar.

Tadros noted: "There are a number of contractual issues facing the shipping industry as a result of these developments. Charterparty provisions over 'blockade' and safe port/berth warranties may be relevant under these circumstances. The concept of 'frustration' may also arise if a vessel cannot get close to its nominated port as a result of the measures announced by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Given these and other issues, those entering into charterparties that might be affected by the closure of ports to Qatari trade should consider incorporating terms that allocate the associated risks.

"It is also possible that the wording of existing clauses may be wide enough to embrace the prohibitions put in place by the UAE and others in relation to Qatari vessels. A party may also be able to rely on a force majeure event if it is expressly entitled to do so under the contract."

Related Links:

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P&I club says it can decline cover to ships violating Qatar 'trade embargo'
Oil price volatility increases as Middle East tensions escalate
United Arab Emirates

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