Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 6, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Nigerian militants free eight oil workers abducted off drill ship

  • SOMALIA: Islamic leaders claim victory in Mogadishu

  • End in sight for cruise ship Norway

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    Nigerian militants free eight oil workers abducted off drill ship

    Yenagoa, 4 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - Eight foreign oil workers abducted by gunmen from an offshore rig in Nigeria were freed by their captors on Sunday, Nigerian authorities said.

    The hostages, including six British nationals, one Canadian and one US citizen were released in two batches following negotiations conducted by officials of the southern Bayelsa state in charge of the area where the kidnap occurred.

    “They have all been freed and are all in good health,” Ekiyor Welson, spokesman for Bayelsa state told IRIN in the state capital Yenagoa.

    All the men had been taken in a pre-dawn raid on Friday from the rig named Bulford Dolphin, operated by Norway firm Fred Olsen on behalf of Peak Petroleum Industries of Nigeria, some 42 kilometres offshore.

    Two of the hostages were initially released about 03.00 hours local time (02.00 GMT) on Sunday morning, with the rest freed just before noon.

    In an official statement afterwards, the Bayelsa Governor Goodluck Jonathan, accused Peak Petroluem of triggering the raid by failing to provide the nearby Bilabiri community with jobs and other benefits.

    “From the discussions we held with the chiefs and people of Bilabiri community, we gathered that there are outstanding issues concerning employment,” Jonathan said. “The people of Bilabiri are aggrieved that nobody from the community has been employed by the company,” he added.

    A meeting has been scheduled for Monday between officials of the oil company and representatives of the community to iron out remaining differences, according to the statement.

    Officials of Peak Petroleum were not immediately available for comment.

    Violent attacks on foreigners and international oil companies have peaked in recent months as armed militias protest what they call the marginalisation of the oil rich Niger Delta, which remains one of the poorest regions of West Africa despite its oil wealth.

    Since the beginning of the year militia attacks have forced operators in Nigeria to cut oil exports of 2.5 million barrels a day by more than 20 percent.

    Most of the attacks have been claimed by the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which says it is fighting for local control of oil wealth now in the hands of the federal government. But the group has denied any involvement in the latest attack and kidnapping.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    SOMALIA: Islamic leaders claim victory in Mogadishu

    Nairobi, 5 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - Islamic leaders in Mogadishu claimed victory over a group of rival secular politicians on Monday, saying they would strive to restore security in the capital, where bloody clashes between the two sides have claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands of people.

    "The Joint Islamic Courts do not want continuation of hostilities and will ensure peace and security following the change attained by the victory of the people with the support of Allah," Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, chairman of Mogadishu's Islamic group, said in a message broadcast over several radio stations in the city. "We are not against any group and will engage the rest of the world in a way that takes into account the interest of our country."

    Militia loyal to the Islamic courts have been fighting against the secular faction leaders, who came together under the umbrella Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, since February. More than 300 people are believed to have died in the violence, and some 1,500 others have been wounded.

    Late on Sunday, in the south-central town of Baidoa, where Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is based, Prime Minister Ali Muhammed Gedi announced the sacking from the cabinet of Muhammad Qanyare Afrah, Muse Sudi Yalahow, Omar Finnish and Botan Elmi Isse for being members of the anti-terror alliance and engaging in violence. A group of fighters loyal to Qanyare, who held the post of national security minister, and Isse, who held the rehabilitation portfolio, were reported to have fled to the town of Jowhar, south of Mogadishu, after losing their strongholds in the capital to the Islamic court forces, residents in the town said.

    Somalia has had no effective government since the collapse of the regime of Muhammad Siyad Barre in 1991 and the ensuing civil war, in which various factions and warlords fought for power. The regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development - made up of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia - sponsored two years of talks between the various Somali clans and factions, culminating in the establishment of the TFG in October 2004.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    End in sight for cruise ship Norway

    A final end by scrapping now appears inevitable for the former SS Norway, once the pride of the French merchant marine in the days when she sailed the Atlantic as the SS France, but now relegated to the meaningless name ‘Blue Lady.’

    The vessel has been laying up in Malaysian waters for some time since being towed round the Cape from Europe, her previous operator Norwegian Cruise Line’s (Star Cruise Lines) hopes of seeing the once glorious ship continuing in cruise service dashed by a fatal boiler explosion in Miami harbour.

    Even after being towed to South East Asia ship lovers hoped the ship would somehow miraculously be saved, but it was not to be. The ship’s last months have been spent in uncertainty as first one country in South East Asia then another denied her access to the cutting beaches on account of the more than a thousand tonnes of asbestos cladding believed to have been used when she was built.

    SS Norway was towed round the Cape of Good Hope in 2005 en route to what was then hoped would be a new career as a cruise ship operating in South East Asian waters. The reality was that this was probably never a possibility – today, barely a year after this photograph was taken, the ship is no longer one of the world’s grandest passenger liners but a sad rusting relic. This picture was taken by Ian Shiffman off Cape Town harbour on 1 July 2005

    Now comes news that India’s Supreme Court has granted permission to the owners of Blue Lady have the rusting vessel towed to Alang in Gujarat province where she will go to anchor once more, pending inspection before a final decision on whether she may go under the cutters torches and cables.

    The Indian government’s solicitor general has provided the court with assurances that all safety norms regarding pollution will be adhered to. He pointed out that a proper inspection of the ship’s safety aspects could not in any case be conducted unless the ship was brought inshore.

    Activists who have fought against allowing the ship to approach India or Bangladesh’s coastline consider the latest development as an indication that the ship will now be scrapped at Alang. They will no doubt continue their efforts to prevent this from happening however.

    They continue to point out that the Blue Lady, aka SS Norway contains more than twice the official mount of asbestos than the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau, which was turned away by a panel of Indian judges before the French government decided it had suffered enough embarrassment and ordered the ship towed back to France.

    Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Beira on the East Coast?

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