We can not get enough of this story.
Bloomberg: The Somali pirates who hijacked an oil-laden Saudi Arabian supertanker said they may reduce their demand for a $25 million ransom and vowed to defend themselves if an attempt is made to free the ship.
“Negotiations are smoothly ongoing between us,” Abdi Salan Ahmed, a pirates’ representative, said in a telephone interview today from Harardhere, a northern Somali town controlled by Islamist militias near the ship’s anchorage. “There may be some type of ransom reduction but I can’t confirm it now.”
LOVE that the pirates are doing press!!! This is beyond awesome. And their flack is skilled in evading answering questions!
The tanker, the Sirius Star, belongs to Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Vela International Ltd. and is carrying 2 million barrels of oil valued at about $110 million. It was hijacked Nov. 15 about 420 nautical miles (778 kilometers) off Somalia, along with 25 crew members from Britain, Poland, Croatia and Saudi Arabia.
Success breeds success!
Spurred by the willingness of ship owners to pay ransoms, Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden region have stepped up their activities. More than 581 crew members were taken hostage from January to September, compared with 172 in all of 2007, the International Maritime Bureau says. Ransoms have grown to more than $1 million per ship on average, compared with tens of thousands of dollars a few years ago.
The hijacking of the oil tanker, the largest vessel ever seized, may prompt Western and Arab countries to get tougher. Last week, the North Atlantic Treaty organisation said it is reassessing its operations in the region; Russia said it’s likely to add to its one ship in the area; Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said his country would contribute to the NATO force, though he didn’t specify how.
But all good things must come to an end. Or..do they? While reinforcements are being brought in, didn’t anybody read that book about what happened when the West fought Somalis in the ’90s?? Don’t underestimate them!
There are currently 15 warships in the region, including four NATO vessels, and ships from India, Malaysia and Russia. The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan has a task force in the area and a European Union fleet is expected to reach the zone next month. The navies of India, Russia, Britain and Germany have all battled pirate vessels in the last 14 days alone.
Frontline Ltd., the world’s largest operator of supertankers, is talking with “a few” oil companies about diverting vessels from the Suez Canal to avoid the pirates, Jens Martin Jensen, interim chief executive officer of the company’s Oslo-based management unit, said by phone today.
…Customers hiring very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, pay about $1.95 a barrel to ship oil to Europe from the Persian Gulf around South Africa, compared with about $1.20 through the Suez Canal, Bloomberg calculations show.
Pirates: The head Sheikh says that you’re going to be in big trouble if you don’t cut it out.
Sheikh Abdulaahi Osman, a commander of the Islamic Courts Union group in Harardhere, which is located in the semi- autonomous Puntland region, yesterday warned the pirates holding the Saudi ship they face armed conflict if they don’t release it.
“Saudi is a Muslim country and it is a very big crime to hold Muslim property,” Osman said. “I warned again and again those who hold the ship must free it unconditionally.”
The Somali pirates have taken the Sirius Star farther out to sea, anchoring it 16 miles north of Harardhere, U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Nate Christensen said by telephone from Bahrain today. The Fifth Fleet hasn’t had any communication with the pirates or the ship, he added.
Why the cold shoulder, pirates? Do you hate us, too?
Last week, extra militiamen began arriving in Harardhere to help the pirates holding the ship to bolster their defenses.
The pirates have their own (sea) cavalry. Awesome!
Vela has declined to comment on the ransom demand or the negotiations. The Saudi foreign minister confirmed that talks were under way last week.
The Sirius Star was bound for St. Eustatius in the Caribbean Sea on its original course.
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