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MOGADISHU, Somalia - A major Norwegian shipping group on Tuesday ordered its more than 90 tankers to sail around Africa rather than use the Suez Canal after Somali pirates seized a Saudi supertanker carrying $100 million in crude.

 

The U.S. and other naval forces decided against intervening in the seizure of the supertanker. The pirates captured an Iranian cargo ship Tuesday, the seventh vessel seized in 12 days.

 

Odfjell SE said it made the decision to divert its ships after pirates seized the Saudi Arabian supertanker MV Sirius Star over the weekend hundreds of miles off the coast of Kenya, the most brazen attack yet by Somalian pirates.

 

We will no longer expose our crew to the risk of being hijacked and held for ransom by pirates in the Gulf of Aden," said Terje Storeng, Odfjell's president and chief executive. "Unless we are explicitly committed by existing contracts to sail through this area, as from today we will reroute our ships around Cape of Good Hope."

 

The Gulf of Aden, off Somalia, connects to the Red Sea, which in turn is linked to the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal. The route is thousands of miles and many days shorter than going around the Cape of Good Hope off the southern tip of Africa.

 

"This will incur significant extra cost, but we expect our customers' support and contribution," said Storeng.

 

"Odfjell is frustrated by the fact that governments and authorities in general seem to take a limited interest in this very serious problem," he added, describing the seizures as "ruthless, high-level organized crime."

 

'An outrageous act'

Pirates have seized dozens of ships off Somalia's coast in the last year, generally releasing them after ransoms were paid. NATO has three warships in the Gulf of Aden and the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet has ships in the region. But the MV Sirius Star was seized far from where they patrol.

 

While Somali pirates have seized 36 ships over the past year, among them a Ukrainian ship loaded with arms that is still being held, never had they seized a vessel as large as the Sirius Star and so far out to sea. The tanker was more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya, an area far south of the zone where warships have increased their patrols.

 

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called the hijacking "an outrageous act" and said "piracy, like terrorism, is a disease which is against everybody, and everybody must address it together."

 

The kingdom, which is the world's leading oil producer, said it will join the international fight against piracy, and Somali officials vowed to try to rescue the supertanker, by force if necessary.

 

Fisherman startled

The Sirius Star was anchored Tuesday close Harardhere, the main pirates' den on the Somali coast, with a full load of 2 million barrels of oil and 25 crew members.

 

"As usual, I woke up at 3 a.m. and headed for the sea to fish, but I saw a very, very large ship anchored less than three miles off the shore," said Abdinur Haji, a fisherman in Harardhere.

 

"I have been fishing here for three decades, but I have never seen a ship as big as this one," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "There are dozens of spectators on shore trying to catch a glimpse of the large ship."

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27766333/

 

 

Crazy

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The only problem for the pirates is that the oil they seized can't be offloaded unless they also happen to own an oil transfer station.

Even if they did, do you actually think they would take it to market? This is clearly for ransom money.

My point is, how much value can something have if you can't really use it?

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I found something else on the subject.. i'm just going to post the first sentence because it could be the coolest sounding sentence ever.

 

An Indian warship has exchanged fire with a pirate "mother vessel" off the hijacking-plagued Horn of Africa, leaving the ship ablaze in the Gulf of Aden, an official said Wednesday.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/11/19...ates/index.html

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At least according to NBC, pirates have been paid ransoms for two previously hijacked vessels:

 

(article excerpt)

 

NBC News reported that the Great Creation, a Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker seized on Sept. 18, was released after a $1.67 million ransom was paid. The Genius, another Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker which was hijacked Sept. 26, was also returned in exchange for an unknown sum.

 

Earlier this week, pirates released the Stolt Valor, a Japanese chemical tanker after paying hijackers $2.5 million.

 

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