Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pirates in the News! September 2008

In July, 15-22 Filipino sailors (depending on the article) were captured and held hostage by pirates in Somalia with the cargo ship, the Stella Maris, they were crewing. The crew was ransomed and released.
Later in the summer,
Nigerian authorities arrested 15 Filipinos suspected of stealing crude oil. The Filipinos denied the charges but were arraigned Tuesday.

They were arrested while aboard MT Lina Panama, which is laden with stolen crude at Brass. Rev Chavez, the ship’s captain, was quoted as arguing that they don’t know about the stolen crude, and they were just victims of an attack orchestrated by suspected pirates in Nigeria.

The independent newspaper The Nation, which showed a picture of the Filipinos in its Friday edition, quoted Chavez as saying they were on their way to Angola from Cotonou, the capital of Benin, when they were attacked.

The ship captain added that they were locked in a cabin for several hours before they were rescued by Nigerian security troops.

Theft of crude oil from the Niger Delta by armed gangs and pirates and their foreign collaborators costs Lagos millions of dollars in lost revenue every year.Nigeria is one of the world’s top oil producers and trouble there impacts on global prices of oil.

In 2006 and 2007, a rise in illegal activities was observed in Africa, with frequent attacks on foreign oil concerns and a rash of abductions of expatriate staff.

A few days ago in Nigeria, it was reported that MEND had destroyed an important oil pipeline.

"Fighters from MEND using high explosives have destroyed a major pipeline belonging to Shell Development Company at the Elem-Kalabari Cawthorne Channel axis in Rivers state," the group said in an email to the media.

The group said the attack took place around 6:30 pm (1730 GMT), but gave few other details except to say that its men bumped into an army patrol that begged for mercy.

There was no immediate confirmation from Shell.

"We are checking. We've also heard the report. It requires us going to that area to check," spokesman Precious Okolobo told AFP.

Attacks like these highlight the unrest in the region that has led to the upswing in piracy in recent years.

Similarly, 29 were killed in Mogadishu, Somalia.

More directly piratically;

It's been a big month for France in the efforts against piracy on the world stage. President Sarkosy urged more action to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden in the wake of French Forces saving a French Couple from pirates holding them hostage. One pirate was killed and six captured during the raid. Sarkosy has been piracy's most vocal opponent since the capture of La Ponant in March.

In Asia, the Philipene Government has commented on how upset they are about the recent spate of pirate attacks, including the Greek ship hijacked last week. Filipinos as at risk because of the high numbers of Filipino seafarers that man the vulnerable ships in the waters around Somalia.

The Danish warship Absalon also captured 2 suspected pirate vessels off the Horn of Africa, pirate motherships? Pawns in an international game of one upmanship trying to out-capture the French? Baseless conjecture on my part? only time will tell...

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