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Travel News

Somali pirates disrupt fuel supplies in East Africa

26_20
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Written by editor

With increasing threats of Somali piracy on ships heading to Eastern and Southern Africa, fuel supplies in three East African countries has been disrupted causing shortage of petrol products in the re

With increasing threats of Somali piracy on ships heading to Eastern and Southern Africa, fuel supplies in three East African countries has been disrupted causing shortage of petrol products in the region.

Tanzania has reported over the weekend, an urgent measure to curb the situation which had caused fuel shortage in its major towns including the capital city of Dar es Salaam.

Increased hijack of cargo ships by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean has threatening fuel supply to Tanzania with reports from Kenya and Uganda indicating fuel supply disruption.

Oil marketing companies in Tanzania have expressed their deep concern of critical fuel shortages unless piracy is stopped on the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.

Hijacking of ships including oil tankers has frustrated oil companies, some opted for cancellations of oil transport to East African region.

Reports say more than 30 ships have been hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, with hundreds of crew members taken hostage this year.

Senior Tanzanian government official responsible for energy regulations Mr. Cyril Massey said the Somali piracy had greatly affected fuel flow to Tanzania.

He said more efforts were needed to the piracy which to great extents, threatened global fuel transporters from crossing the Indian Ocean through the Horn of Africa.

More reports from oil markers said Somali piracy is fast becoming a critical situation with expectations of the worst in a short while.

Kenya is already reportedly experiencing oil shortages although officials have not said it was due to piracy.

Oil marketers in Kenya previously rebutted fears of a looming fuel shortage in the country over the increased hijack of cargo ships by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.

But the whole region has been affected by the problem as pirates on Somalia waters make it even more dangerous to send tankers to east Africa.

Alternative routes, which can be used to transport bulk oil to the region, have been found to be too expensive.

Once confined to the Gulf of Aden, Somali pirates have of late extended their business to the territorial waters of Tanzania and Kenya.

Recently, pirates targeted a Dutch-operated container ship in the vicinity of Tanzanian waters but their attack was foiled after an early warning which attracted Tanzania soldiers and other international security units to outran the pirates.

There were 11 actual and attempted robberies of ships near Tanzania this year alone.

Frontline, the world’s largest operator of supertankers, has already said it might divert vessels from Somalia waters after the recent capture of a Saudi owned tanker.

It also made the announcement following an attempted hijacking of its Front Voyager tanker in the same area in September this year.

And the Joint Hull Committee, a group representing ship insurers, has also advised ship owners to avoid troubled waters in the region.

This puts nations on the eastern Africa coast at high risk of getting no supplies, which is likely to trigger a surge in oil prices and threaten
However, the Tanzania Peoples Defense Forces allayed fears of piracy on Tanzanian waters, saying it was well equipped to handle any ship attack.

And Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority director-general Haruna Masebu said no oil importer had proposed to increase insurance charges as a result of high risk.

He also said due to piracy, most tankers now wait for escorts for up to a week, which was putting extra costs on ship owners who have to pay about US$ 25,000 a day a vessel for medium-range vessels and US$ 30,000 a day for long-range vessels.

Costs vary depending on the route taken and value of the ships’ contents, he added.

Ship owners are also paying insurance premiums of up to US $1.5 million a vessel for ships sailing up the coast of Somalia and through the Gulf of Aden.

He said some tankers were using the longer but safer Cape of Good Hope route to avoid putting their ships at risk in the Gulf of Aden.

Frontline, the world’s largest operator of supertankers, has already said it might divert vessels from Somalia waters after the recent capture of a Saudi owned tanker.

It also made the announcement following an attempted hijacking of its Front Voyager tanker in the same area in September this year.

And the Joint Hull Committee, a group representing ship insurers, has also advised ship owners to avoid troubled waters in the region.

This puts nations on the eastern Africa coast at high risk of getting no supplies, which is likely to trigger a surge in oil prices and threaten the viability of several businesses.

However, the Tanzania Defense Forces allayed fears of piracy on Tanzanian waters, saying it was well equipped to handle any attack on a ship.

About 20,000 ships pass annually through the Gulf of Aden. Pirates have attacked more than 60 ships in the Gulf of Aden this year alone.

As much as US $30 million in ransom may have been paid this year – money that is helping finance Islamic militants in their war against the government, said a report from Chatham House, a London-based Institute that analyses foreign affairs.

In Tanzania, the effects of piracy on local oil prices have not yet manifested themselves as prices are currently on a downward trend following a slump in global crude oil prices.