Somali pirates hijack tanker carrying £93m of oil

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The Independent Online

Somali pirates captured a Greek-flagged supertanker carrying an estimated $150m (£93m) worth of oil to the Gulf of Mexico yesterday, the second successful attack against an oil tanker by sea bandits in two days.

Such vessels can command higher ransoms due to 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 rising. One last year reached $9.5m and the increasing prizes have provided further incentives for pirates to launch attacks, despite stepped-up patrols by an international flotilla of warships. Pirates currently hold 29 ships and about 660 hostages.

The Irene SL had been sailing 200 nautical miles east of Oman with a cargo of 266,000 tons of crude oil and a crew of seven Greeks, 17 Filipinos and one Georgian. The value of the oil was 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. 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.

On Tuesday, Somali pirates firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades hijacked an Italian-flagged oil tanker in the Indian Ocean.