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Vela negotiating release of hijacked tanker

Vela negotiating release of hijacked tanker

Dubai: Vela International Marine, the owner of the captured VLCC Sirius Star (pictured), has embarked on negotiations with pirates for release of its oil tanker. "Vela response teams have been established and are working to ensure the safe release of the crew members and the vessel," the Dubai-based company said in a statement. "All 25 crew members on board are reported to be safe and the vessel is fully laden. More information will be released as it comes available."

The hijack, carried out yesterday 420 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, is of note not just because this is the first vessel of this size to be captured, but because the 318,000-tonne ship was carrying two million barrels of oil (valued at close to $100m) at the time of capture. This is expected to impact the ransom price and may be partly responsible for the 2% increase in US light crude oil contracts for December contracts to $58.28. Brent crude is said to also have increased to $54.51 per barrel, up 27 cents.

Reports from the US Navy have indicated that the vessel is being taken towards the port town of Eyl in the northern Puntland region of Somalia, known to be a pirate haven.  [18/11/08]