Tanker hijacked off Angola in Jan returned, minus $8 million of diesel

LUANDA Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:23pm EST

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LUANDA (Reuters) - An oil tanker hijacked for a week off Angola in January has been returned to the country's authorities, a board member at state oil firm Sonangol said on Tuesday, adding that the hijackers had stolen diesel worth $8 million from the ship.

The Liberian-flagged MT Kerala was under a time charter contract for Sonangol when it vanished off the coast of the capital Luanda on January 18 before being intercepted by the Nigerian navy a week later.

The incident raised concerns that piracy is spreading south from the Gulf of Guinea, near Africa's biggest oil producer Nigeria, where most hijacking gangs originate.

Angola is the continent's second-biggest crude operator and almost all of its production is offshore.

The incident sparked a row between the Angolan government, which accused the crew of disabling the ship's communications to fake a pirate attack, and the vessel's Greek owners, who said pirates hijacked the vessel and stole a large quantity of cargo.

"The MT Kerala was found in Nigerian waters, but as the coast there did not offer security it was taken to Ghanaian waters and then recovered with help from both countries' authorities and brought to Luanda," Sonangol board member Anabela Fonseca told a news conference.

"It is now with Angola government authorities ... We (Sonangol) managed to recover around 78 percent of the cargo, but they managed to transfer about 12,000 tonnes of diesel, so that is what we lost," she added, without commenting on who was responsible for the theft.

Mateus Neto, also a member of Sonangol's board, told the news conference that the diesel the company lost was worth around $8 million.

(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; editing by Andrew Roche)

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Comments (1)
carlmartel wrote:
The US Navy should patrol the coasts of Africa to prevent this type of piracy that raises prices for petrochemicals. The US and NATO have mechanized economies that depend on refined oil for moving raw materials and finished products to factories and stores. Western armed forces need refined oil for warships, aircraft, and ground military vehicles. In addition, the economies pay for the armed forces and develop and pay for the military’s technological tools.

Ayman al Zawahiri has been moving al Qaeda into striking position of the oil and gas infrastructure of north Africa and the Middle East, but he can adapt to new situations. He has let Libya’s labor problems reduce oil for the US and NATO by 90%, and he lets piracy cut off other supplies of oil. Given the USS Cole attack, he may develop sea forces to attack western oil shipping. The west coast of Africa supplies millions of barrels of oil per day but has poor protection. Oil is fungible, so any attack drives up global terror premiums, increases revenues to Sunni Arab oil states, increases donations to al Qaeda and other Sunni rebel groups, damages the West’s economies, and lets the West pay for both sides in the current war. It is a win-win situation for al Qaeda.

Feb 25, 2014 3:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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