Somali pirates capture oil tanker bound for US: Higher oil prices ahead?
Somali pirates took control of an oil tanker from Kuwait carrying $200 million worth of crude. It's the second oil-tanker hijacking by Somali pirates in two days.
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The Irene SL, the length of three soccer pitches and with 25 crew members on board, was carrying about 2 million barrels of oil, or nearly one fifth of daily U.S. crude imports.
The hijacking came a day after an Italian tanker carrying oil worth more than $60 million was snatched by Somali pirates, reinforcing industry fears that the piracy scourge is "spinning out of control".
"This morning the vessel was attacked by armed men," the Irene SL's Greece-based manager Enesel said. "For the moment there is no communication with the vessel."
Commander Susie Thomson, spokeswoman for the multinational Combined Maritime Forces fighting piracy in the area, said the 333-metre tanker was hijacked 220 miles off Oman and was likely to have been attacked by Somali pirates. "We can only speculate as to where the ship is being taken."
Shipping industry associations have warned that over 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil supply passing through the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea is at risk from Somali pirates, who are able to operate ever further out to sea and for longer periods, using mother ships.
"This is a strategic area of concern because it implicates shipping travelling to and from the Persian/Arabian Gulf," he said. "This area also does not have a significant naval presence like the Gulf of Aden."
On Tuesday, pirates firing guns and rocket-propelled grenades hijacked an Italian oil tanker in the Indian Ocean and diverted the vessel towards Somalia.