On Thursday, January 29th, another ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. It is a German LPG tanker that was staffed by a 13 member crew. The article, out of Nairobi, discusses that nobody is hurt and the ship was last seen heading south toward the Somali coast. This attack, plus the significant hijacking near the end of last year of the 2 bb oil tanker Sirius Star, got me thinking and exploring this issue a bit.
I found an article on how negotiations are made. Most of the negotiations are handled in the U.K. and generally take 1-2 months. In the case of the Sirius Star, the money is dropped from the air but often, as the article states, it is delivered on the water. This presents problems with other pirates in the area, like a feeding frenzy of sharks.
I still have trouble understanding how a few small boats from Somalia can take a 200,000+ DWT tanker. These boats should have some kind of defense mechanism for this particular problem. Many do evade and escape such attacks but not all. It’s understandable that there is precious, hazardous cargo but I’m sure there is a better way to avoid dropping 72 million dollars each year in overall costs.
I found a great site that updates these attacks and plots them on google maps for ease in viewing. It gives an overall description of what happens and classifies the events in three groups: Actual attacks, attempted attacks, and suspicious vessels. The description for last Thursdays read,”Heavily armed pirates in a speed boat chased and fired upon a LPG tanker underway. Pirates boarded and hijacked the tanker and are sailing it to an undisclosed location in Somalia. Further reports awaited.”
As somebody going into the E&P industry at the end of this year, I’m always curious about these international problems. Even though I can’t do anything at the present, I like to think of the best way to handle such situations. The site link I provided above to the IMB piracy reporting center is completely volunteer and funded by contributions. I’d imagine their funding reflects their ability to help. Earlier last weekend, Japan sent ships toward the Gulf of Aden to help protect shipping lanes. This adds to a number of countries (Britain, France, Germany, Iran and the United States, China and South Korea) already there or en route. There has also been discussed a linkage to these pirates and a terrorist organization in the middle east. I won’t go into detail there but it’s all over the news.