Monday, November 17, 2008

Pirates! The devil you say, pirates hijacking oil tankers?…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 9:52 AM Permalink

…this absolutely fascinating story comes from the BBC News, recounting the tale of pirates hijacking an oil tanker, and apparently not for this first time:
Pirates have taken control of a Saudi-owned oil tanker in the Indian Ocean off the Kenyan coast, the US Navy says.

The tanker was seized 450 nautical miles south-east of the port of Mombasa, a US Navy spokesman said.

Twenty five crew are said to be on board, including members from Croatia, the UK, the Philippines, Poland and Saudi Arabia.
A BBC correspondent in Mombasa reports that this is the third tanker to have been hijacked by Somali pirates.
This situation is open to all sorts of possible events: the peaceful sell-back of the tanker and oil; a forceful confrontation to attempt to recapture the ship and arrest the pirates for prosecution, which would indeed be risky; or the pirates could just decide to make one massive bomb or otherwise release the 2-million gallons or so of oil being carried to create a colossal natural disaster for any nearby countries.
In the first nine months of the year 63 incidents were reported.
As of 30 September, 12 vessels remained captive and under negotiation with more than 250 crew being held hostage.
Pirates remain active and regularly strike in the region. In the past week alone
• A Russian warship in the Gulf of Aden drove off pirates who tried to capture the Saudi Arabian merchant ship Rabih
• Pirates hijacked a Japanese cargo ship off Somalia
• A Chinese fishing boat was seized off the Kenyan coast
• A Turkish ship transporting chemicals to India was hijacked off Yemen
• The UK's Royal Navy shot dead two suspected pirates attacking a Danish cargo-ship off the coast of Yemen.
The Sirius Star, owned by the Saudi company Aramco, made its maiden voyage in March 2008.
Weighing 318,000 dead weight tonnes, the Sirius Star is 330m (1,080ft) long - about the length of an aircraft carrier.
Classed as a Very Large Crude Carrier, it can carry about 2 million barrels of oil, according to AP.
It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.

A direct attack on the tanker would be rife with danger from unexpected booby traps or even blowing up the ship deliberately (or blowing a hugh hole in the side to release the the oil, as it would appear unlikely that the oil could actually be detonated like a bomb). It would also seem that the owners of the tanker would be reluctant indeed to see any damage done to their multimillion dollar tanker and its obviously very expensive cargo of crude.

And what a neat way to have to jack up oil prices due to "unexpected events."

This does indeed appear to be one of those events that directly and indirectly benefits the victims of the crime. A real win-win situation for the hijackers and and those hijacked.

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