In a story sounding like a scene from a post-Peak Oil drama, a Saudi supertanker was hijacked in broad daylight by Somali pirates yesterday.

The takeover demonstrates the bandits’ heightened ambitions and capabilities: Never before have they seized such a giant ship so far out to sea. Maritime experts warned the broad daylight attack, reported by the U.S. Navy on Monday, was an alarming sign of the difficulty of patrolling a vast stretch of ocean key to oil and other cargo traffic.The MV Sirius Star, a brand new tanker with a 25-member crew, was seized at about 10 a.m. Saturday more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya, the Navy said. The area lies far south of the zone where warships have increased their patrols this year in the Gulf of Aden, one of the busiest channels in the world, leading to and from the Suez Canal, and the scene of most past attacks.

Source: Somali Pirates Grab Saudi Oil Tanker –

The Knock Nevis, formerly the world's largest ...

Stories like this are likely to increase as the battle for oil supremacy increase. Carrying over 2 million barrels of oil, the supertanker’s cargo could be worth as “little” as $100 million dollars. Protection of these shipping lanes is supposedly maintained by a flotilla of multinational ships from countries as diverse as Holland, Russia, India and, of course, the USA. The markets were briefly rattled by the news, but shipping companies are making routing changes as a result…

A few shipping companies have already begun to reroute their ships to avoid the pirates. On Monday, the Norwegian shipping group Odfjell, which specializes in chemical tankers, said it would shun the Gulf of Aden for the safer if much longer route around Cape of Good Hope. There have been some 70 pirate attacks in and around the Gulf of Aden so far this year.

“We will no longer expose our crew to the risk of being hijacked and held for ransom by pirates in the Gulf of Aden,” the company’s chief executive, Terje Storeng, said in a statement.

Source: Pirates Briefly Rattle Oil Market – The Lede – Breaking News – New York Times Blog

I remain composed despite the obvious opportunity for alliteration in the title of this post, replace “Pirates” with “Swashbucklers”.

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Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.