Monday, April 21, 2008

Barbary Pirates Deja Vu

The Le Ponant and the French frigate currently guarding it.

The latest on the Le Ponant Pirates now languishing in a Parisian jail. It's hard for me to get too worked up about their fate at this point. Not when I agree with my good friend MK, that shooting the lot of them on the spot would have probably spared the crew of the Playa de Bakio the fate they are suffering today.

More reports are trickling in on that front. It doesn't sound like a good situation to me:

Cadena Ser, a Spanish radio station, said it managed to get through to the Spanish fishing boat and hold a short, frantic conversation with one sailor. In the space of 12 seconds, the sailor asked four times that the broadcaster not call back. "Please do not call back. They are watching us," the unidentified crew member said, according to Cadena Ser.

And from the daughter of the Playa de Bahio's skipper:

Amadeo Alvarez Gomez, told Spanish National Radio. Negotiations are under way and going well, she added. The government declined to comment on any negotiations that might be taking place.

And just in case you were wondering where piracy is hot right now:

Nigeria ranked as the No. 1 hot spot amid a lack of effective law enforcement. Its 10 reported attacks (most of them off its main city of Lagos) accounted for one-fifth of the global total. India and the Gulf of Aden off the northern coast of Somalia tied for second place among pirate-troubled territories, with both reporting five incidents apiece. Those in India were low-key attacks aimed at theft, while the Gulf of Aden was prone to hijackings.

(I'm not sure these numbers take into account the 20% increase seen in pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia alone for the first three months of this year. ) But back to the Le Ponant. A ranson of $2,000,000 was paid for its release, but did you know that only $200,000 of the ransom money was found with the Le Ponant pirates when they were captured by French forces?

Where did the rest of the money go?

The IHT is reporting this about the Japanese tanker attacked on Monday.

"Pirates in the lawless Gulf of Aden off Somalia fired on a Japanese oil tanker Monday, unleashing hundreds of gallons of fuel into the sea...The tanker attack helped send crude oil prices to a new record, spiking above $117 a barrel Monday before falling back slightly."

(Hundreds of gallons of fuel? As in less than a thousand? Surely that is a manageable amount. Besides, I thought the recent spike in oil prices had more to do with the attack on the Nigerian pipeline...and the usual OPEC-ian jawboning that is taking place. Still and all, this can't be good for the world oil market jitters.)