Thursday, June 16, 2005

Pirates (?) at Iraq's Basra Oil Terminal

Some armed men were seen on board a tanker anchored near Iraq's Basra oil terminal as reported (albeit breathlessly) here:
Exports from Basra provide nearly all of Iraq's income.

"The alert was sounded when watchmen found three men carrying long knives, a rifle and a machine gun on board the vessel. The pirates fled in a speed boat and no causalties have been reported," GAC said.

The agent said merchant ships should be extremely cautious in and around the deepwater terminals and anchorages. "In light of this latest incident, robust anti-piracy procedures should be adopted," it said.

Security worries have plagued Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in the spring of 2003.
Only this week U.S.-led coalition naval forces increased patrols in and around Iraq's Basra oil terminals after two high-profile security scares.

The U.S.'s Navy's Fifth Fleet, which co-ordinates maritime security in the Gulf, was not immediately available for comment on the latest incident.

Last week the navy told Reuters coalition forces were only direclty responsible for security at the oil terminals and not at the approaches or anchorages.

Piracy watchdog, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), said the incident once again raised serious questions over security.

"It's pretty worrying because of everything that is happening in Iraq. We are monitoring the situation closely," Jayant Abhyankar, deputy director of the IMB told Reuters. (emphasis added)
Looks like the "pirates" seem to have found a security seam- ship self protection - which is the same problem all around the world.

Update: (semi-related story) As reported here:
Iraqi Marines Prepare to Take Over Oil Platform Security,,,n Iraqi Marine working with U.S. security forces said he and his fellow Iraqis look forward to taking full responsibility for the security of ABOT and KAAOT.

“It’s my duty to defend [the oil terminal]. It belongs to my country. It belongs to my people. Our economy is based on it. I take pride in doing so,” said the Iraqi Marine.

ABOT and KAAOT are significant sources of revenue for the Iraqi people – revenue that is important to the rebuilding of Iraq.

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