Global General

Somali pirates capture supertanker, $150m of oil

Updated: 2011-02-10 11:20
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NAIROBI, Kenya - Somali pirates captured a Greek-flagged supertanker carrying an estimated $150 million worth of oil to the Gulf of Mexico, the second successful attack against an oil tanker by sea bandits in two days, officials said.

Somali pirates capture supertanker, $150m of oil

The Greek-registered tanker Irene SL is seen in this undated handout photo distributed by the Greek-based ship management company Enesel S.A, in Athens Feb 9, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

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Pirate-fighting tactics may change after raids

Such vessels can command higher ransoms because of the value of the crude on board. Owners of the oil may want to resolve hostage situations quickly, particularly if oil prices are dropping, a situation that can cost owners millions of dollars more than the pirate ransom will.

Still, ransom prices are on the rise. One last year reached $9.5 million, and the increasing prizes have provided even more incentive for pirates to launch attacks despite stepped-up patrols by an international flotilla of warships.

Pirates hold 29 ships and roughly 660 hostages.

Somali pirates capture supertanker, $150m of oil

The Irene SL was sailing 200 nautical miles (360 kilometers) east of Oman with a cargo of 266,000 tons of crude oil and a crew of seven Greeks, 17 Filipinos and one Georgian when it was attacked on Wednesday, the ministry said. The Associated Press estimated the value of the oil at more than $150 million, based on the amount being carried and a price of $87 a barrel.

The tanker was sailing from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico. The ministry said authorities had lost contact with the ship since the attack.

The Piraeus-based shipping company First Navigation Special Maritime Enterprises confirmed its ship had been attacked but had no further comment.

The Irene SL was the second oil tanker to be attacked in that region in two days. On Tuesday, Somali pirates firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades hijacked an Italian-flagged oil tanker in the Indian Ocean that had been heading from Sudan to Malaysia.