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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Latest ONI Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 2 May 07)

Latest ONI Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 2 May 07) is found here.

1. GULF OF ADEN: There has been no let up in Gulf of Aden smuggling deaths, per
10 Apr reporting. Mariners are advised to be aware of the potential need to render assistance
to stranded migrants, or the need to ward off unscrupulous smugglers while transiting the Gulf
of Aden, particularly between Bosaso, Somalia (11:17.04N 049:10.56E) and Bir Ali, Yemen
(14:01.30N 048:20.30E). Background: At a press briefing on 10 Apr, a spokesman for the
office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) explained that at
least 34 people being smuggled from Somalia drowned after being forced overboard by smugglers in deep waters off the coast of Yemen. The incident occurred on 06 Apr when
three smuggling boats approached the Yemeni coast near Bir Ali following a two-day voyage
from the Bosaso region of Somalia. When Yemeni authorities fired warning shots and tried to
intervene, smugglers moved to deeper water where they forced the migrants overboard, beating
and stabbing those that resisted. On 15 Apr, the UN Integrated Regional Information Network
(IRIN) reported a similar incident on 12 Apr where warning shots from the Yemeni Coast
Guard reportedly frightened migrants onboard an overloaded small boat causing it to capsize,
drowning 130 people. Another two smuggling vessels fled the scene after which one forced
passengers overboard before reaching the coast, killing an additional 35 migrants. In 2006,
some 26,000 people made the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden and at least 330 died.
Another 300 were reported missing and are believed dead. A 10 Apr report estimated more
than 5,600 migrants have landed on the Yemeni coast so far in 2007, and at least 200 people
have died trying.
3. NIGERIA: Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel (MYSTRAS)
attacked, hostages taken early 3 May while at anchor 55 NM off the coast from Port Harcourt,
Okono Oil Field. The Italian oil firm Eni SpA confirmed hostages were taken from the vessel
managed by its subsidiary. The nationalities of the hostages are two Croatian, one Briton, one
Romanian, and one Australian. Later the same day, the Movement for the Emancipation of the
Niger Delta reportedly said in an e-mail that the hostages were on their way back to Port
Harcourt by boat and a local official confirmed authorities planned to receive them at the state
government headquarters (AP).
4. NIGERIA: Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) vessel (OLOIBIRI) attacked, hostages
taken 1 May, offshore Bayelsa State. Gunmen armed with dynamite seized six foreign workers
and killed a Nigerian government security member in an attack on the Chevron Nigeria Ltd.
vessel. The nationalities of the hostages are four Italians, one Croatian, and one American. The
vessel was moored near the Funiwa Platform. The FSO supports fields that currently produce
approximately 15,000 barrels of oil per day (gross production). The fields have been shut down
to avoid any additional security or safety incidents (Chevron, AP, LM).
5. NIGERIA: Security vessel (MIKE ONE) attacked 19 Apr in the evening, Delta Region.
Security sources stated that gunmen attacked the vessel and abducted three Nigerian staff as well
as seizing weapons and equipment. Another six people were injured and airlifted out of the area.
The security vessel was supporting drilling rig (TRIDENT 8) which was later shut down. The
incident occurred within a 10 minute boat ride from the oil rig (DON WALKER), and the staff
there had requested security reinforcements from the nearest naval base. Sources said the attack
on the vessel appeared to be criminal rather than politically motivated (REUTERS).
9. OMAN: LPG Tanker reported attempted boarding 22 Apr, at 0545 UTC while underway
in position 20:28.7N-059:17.0E, approximately 20NM Northeast of Masirah Island. The master
reported a white speedboat with three people onboard approached the vessel from the aft
starboard quarter. The speedboat had two engines manned by one person while two people stood
forward by a white container and were holding a hook with a long line. The speedboat got
within 2 to 3 meters. The men were reportedly well equipped with their faces covered and
wearing rubber gloves. No weapons were observed. The master sounded the alarm, the crew
mustered and took appropriate actions. The speedboat continued following for 8 minutes then
returned to a group of three similar speedboats 1NM away. ONI Note: ONI is aware of four
other incidents geo-located in this area in the past, all remarkably similar in nature, with the first
incident reported in Feb 2002. All describe speedboats aggressively maneuvering within close
quarters of passing vessels. Some report seeing masked individuals on the speedboats. The
vessels were never boarded and no weapons were positively identified. These incidents all plot
close to a 73 NM line drawn between the SW and NE most incidents (20:28.7N 059:17.0E and
21:43.8N 059:52.2E respectively). This line comes within 20 NM of the coast and roughly
parallels the 100 fathom contour curve near an area that drops to 1000 fathoms in as quickly as 5
to 10 NM. As such, this is a likely area of nutrient upwelling and high living marine resource
productivity. Mariners transiting this area are likely to encounter fishermen aggressively
protecting fishing gear or seeking retribution for damaged fishing gear. Other unscrupulous
small boat operators could take advantage of this environment by attempting to rob passing
mariners. Vessels transiting a parallel course 15 NM SE of this area, where the water depths
drop to greater than 1000 fathoms, are not as likely to encounter these aggressive small boat
interactions (ONI, OPERATOR, IMB).

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