Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Informed sources have stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that Somali pirates have asked for a ransom of $20 million for the release of the Saudi Arabian ship “Al-Nisr Al-Saudi” and its crew which were hijacked last week in the Gulf of Aden.
Kamal Orry, the owner and chairman of the Jeddah-based International Bunkering Company which owns the hijacked ship told Asharq Al-Awsat in a telephone interview that “the hijackers – who are Somali pirates – have demanded a ransom of $20 million in return for the release of the ship and its crew.” Orry also confirmed that he was not involved in the negotiations and that the insurance company that covers Al-Nisr Al-Saudi’s insurance was conducting the negotiations with the pirates; however he refused to disclose the name of this insurance company or the details of the insurance agreement to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Orry also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the negotiations are being conducted by a representative of the pirates who contacted them [the insurance company] via a satellite telephone where he was informed that the ship is insured and negotiations are being carried out with the insurance company.”
Orry also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the ship has a 14-man crew; 13 Sri Lankans and the ship’s captain who is Greek.” He added “they contacted their families yesterday and they are in good health.”
He also revealed that this ship is brand new and was heading to Jeddah from Japan when it was hijacked. Orry said “the ship is new and modern and was not carrying any oil at the time of the hijack.” The ship was destined to operate as part of the International Bunkering Company operations in the Gulf of Jeddah where it would refuel other ships at sea.
News agencies quoted Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme as confirming that said that the Saudi-owned 5,136 tonne al-Nisr al-Saudi ship which was seized on Monday is currently moored off the Somali coast.
In 2008, the Saudi Arabian oil tanker the Sirius Star was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, and it was also later moored off the Somali coast, near the port of Harardhere, a Somali pirate stronghold.