If you were one of the 5,300 boat owners who was paid by BP during their
Vessels of Opportunity program, you may not have been paid in full. Reports
indicate that BP has breached some contracts with its Vessels of Opportunity
owners by not paying them for all stand-by time.
Even though you may have received a portion of BP’s $600 million
paid out to boat owners and crew members last summer in the oil-reconnaissance
program, BP may still owe you money for your Vessel of Opportunity. BP’s
“Master Vessel Charter Agreement” indicated that vessels were
to be available and at BP’s disposal for operation 24 hours per
day, and were not to be used for any purpose other than the performance
of the services as directed by BP during the term of the charter.
The charter agreement also stated that BP could terminate the charter,
but must do so by way of an official formal termination notice that is
called an “Off-Hire Dispatch Notification” which BP needed
to send to the vessel owners before they could be released from the contract.
During Tropical Storm Bonnie in 2010 BP placed a large number of the Vessels
of Opportunity on standby and many of these vessels were never re-activated
by BP. That means the vessel remained on standby until BP formally terminated
contracts several weeks later. In most cases, BP did not terminate the
contract until the end of August 2010.
It seems that BP has refused to pay boat owners for the time between when
they were placed on standby and the time that they were formally provided
with notice of the termination of the charter, even though the vessel
owners were required to use their vessels exclusively for the Vessels
of Opportunity program and thereby lost income associated with not being
able to use their vessel during that period of time.
There’s one good way to determine if you received what is rightfully
yours. If you own a boat or vessel that was used in the BP Deepwater Horizon
oil spill cleanup, please contact us so that we can discuss your legal
rights. We will review your case in a free consultation.