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Pirates launched an attack on a UK-flagged chemical tanker this weekend in the Gulf of Aden, off the Yemeni coast. The guards on the vessel managed to repulse the attack without any injuries and only minor damage to the tanker, the AP reported, quoting a statement from Stolt Tankers, the owner of the vessel.
According to the company, the tanker, Stolt Apal, was about 75 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen when six armed men in two skiffs approached it. The guards and the attackers exchange fire and the guards of the Stolt Apal managed to disable one of the pirates’ skiffs, which effectively ended the attack.
The AP notes this was the ninth pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden since the start of the year. Data from the World Economic Forum shows a 24-percent increase in overall piracy so far this year, compared with the same period of last year. The WEF warned the coronavirus pandemic could worsen the situation further because “Poorer governments are less able to battle piracy as the coronavirus pandemic weakens economies.”
The Gulf of Aden contains one of the world’s biggest oil chokepoints, Bab el-Mandeb. Some 3.8 million bpd passed through it as of 2016. This made it the fourth-largest channel for oil in the world, after the Strait of Hormuz, which sees 17 million bpd pass through it, the Strait of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia, which sees daily traffic of 15.2 million bpd, and the Suez Canal, with daily traffic of some 4.6 million bpd as of 2016.
Since it passes between war-torn Yemen on the one side, and Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia on the other, shipments of crude oil via Bab el-Mandeb are under constant threat from pirates and other militant groups operating in the area.
For a long time the Gulf of Aden was considered the most dangerous of the oil chokepoints because of piracy but this year, another Gulf took the crown: the Gulf of Guinea. In the first quarter of this year, the oil production hub on the Western African coast was home to 21 of the total 47 pirate attacks for the world.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.