From: Yemane Natnael (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Nov 21 2008 - 14:41:54 EST
NOVEMBER 21, 2008
Tankers Rerouted From Pirates
By ELIZABETH COWLEY
Container-shipping company A.P. Moller Maersk AS said it will divert some of its oil tankers around the Cape of Good Hope and transfer some cargo to faster ships amid the rise in piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
The Copenhagen-based company called on the international community to act on the growing piracy problem in the region as other shipping companies indicated they are considering a similar step.
Diverting ships around the southern tip of Africa -- rather than the faster route through the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and Suez Canal into the Mediterranean -- will increase shipping fuel bills and will mean goods take weeks longer to reach their destinations.
Maersk Tankers Chief Executive Soren Skou said that two or three of its oil tankers will be diverted each week. "In addition, the cargoes carried on a continuous basis by three small container ships between ports in the Gulf of Aden area will be transferred to bigger, faster ships," he said.
Slower ships and vessels that sit closer to the waterline are most at risk from pirates.
The company's move comes after pirates over the weekend seized the Saudi-owned Sirius Star oil tanker, the largest ship yet taken and the attack farthest away from Somalia, where many of the pirates are based. The ship's owners are negotiating with the pirates.
Maersk's tanker diversions will increase journey times, raising fuel bills by around 20% to 25%, Mr. Skou said. Tankers going from the Middle East to Europe will take 14 days longer, and to the U.S. eight days longer than usual.
"Somali pirates are in the process of closing down perhaps one of the most important sea trade routes in the world," Mr. Skou said, calling on the international community to solve the growing problem. "This is not something the shipping industry can handle on its own. We need international solutions, enough navy assets, cooperation between fleets," he said.
Several navies have fleets in the region and a pirate vessel was sunk this week by an Indian warship. However, the pirates' capture of the Saudi tanker showed they are becoming bolder and moving further into the vast Indian Ocean, which is proving difficult to police. The commander of U.S. and allied naval forces off the coast of Somalia has urged merchant vessels to sail with armed guards on board and to travel only within lanes now patrolled by warships.
Other shipping companies are warning they may also have to reroute vessels. Tanker owner Frontline Ltd., based in Olso, Thursday said it may also avoid sending ships through the Gulf of Aden.
Maersk said it has safety and security measures in place for its vessels that do enter the Gulf of Aden, and will continue to monitor the situation.
Write to Elizabeth Cowley at email@example.com
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