Saudi mega-tanker still under piratesÆ control
A Saudi oil tanker carrying roughly $100 million worth of crude oil and 25 crew was still being controlled by Somali pirates Tuesday, according to the BBC.
The Sirius Star, a newly commissioned ship owned by Saudi oil company Aramco, was hijacked more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya. The 1,080-foot-long, 318,00-deadweight-ton tanker was carrying 2 million barrels of oil from the Middle East to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship was actually sailing around the tip of Africa and not through the Suez Canal as it’s too wide to navigate the canal. The coup by the pirates was seen to be not only be an escalation in the size of ships they’ve taken on, but also in the geographical distance they’re willing to travel to seize a ship.
Pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden are up 70 percent this year, 38 attacks in all, even though the U.S. Naval fleet operating in the area — with the help of international naval ships — said it has repelled two-dozen attacks since August.
The ship, sailing under a Liberian flag, had crew from Croatia, Britain, the Philippines, Poland and Saudi Arabia. The BBC reported that on Tuesday it had been directed into a port town in Somalia where the hijackers are likely to seek millions of dollars in ransom.
There are 14 vessels being held off the coast of Somalia, with more than 300 crew being held hostage.
As reported in Monday’s Shippers’ NewsWire, Norwegian parcel tanker operator Odfjell SE has decided that all the ships under its control would sail via the Cape of Good Hope because of the explosion in piracy in the Gulf of Aden region.