x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Pirates grab tanker travelling from Saudi

Somali pirates have seized a Greek-flagged oil tanker travelling from Saudi Arabia about 1300km off the coast of Somalia.

ATHENS // Somali pirates have seized a Greek-flagged oil tanker near the Seychelles, more than 1300km off the coast of Somalia, Greece's coastguard has said. The 300,294-dwt Maran Centaurus was sailing from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to the Gulf of Mexico with a crew of 28 when it was seized early yesterday. "About nine armed pirates attacked the tanker and seized it, 700 miles off the Somali coast, near the Seychelles," said a coastguard official. The shipping intelligence company Lloyd's List said the Maran Centaurus is a "very large crude carrier, with a capacity of over 300,000 tons".

The official said there were nine Greeks, two Ukrainians, one Romanian and 16 Filipinos on board the tanker. Maran Tankers Management, the Greek managing company, said the ship was now heading towards the Somali coast. "We only know that the crew is well," a company official said. A Greek navy frigate, taking part in the EU naval operation against piracy in the region, was shadowing the tanker, the Greek Defence Ministry said.

Heavily armed gangs from Somalia have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms by seizing ships using the strategic shipping lanes that link Europe to Asia. *Agencies