will result in extra costs for shippers
MALAYSIAN shipping companies plying
the Far East-Europe trade will have to bear an extra 3,501 nautical
miles if they avoid using the infamous pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.
The extra journey is also expected
to cost shipping firm millions of ringgit if maritime crime in the
Gulf of Aden is not promptly addressed.
About 11% of the world’s seaborne
petroleum transportation pass through the Gulf of Aden to the Suez
Canal or to other regional refineries in Europe.
Gulf of Aden provides the shortest
maritime route from the Far East to Europe. Vessels that opt for an
alternative journey will have to pass the Cape of Good Hope, and
that will add 12 to 21 sailing days depending on the type of vessel
and speed travelled.
Last week, MISC Bhd barred its
vessels from entering the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden until
security measures are enhanced.
This is after two of its tankers,
Bunga Melati 2 and Bunga Melati 5, were hijacked by pirates in the
area on Aug 19 and Aug 30 respectively.
Other than MISC vessels, recent
cases of piracy in the gulf, believed to be the work of Somalian
pirates, involved a bulk carrier, a tugboat, a general cargo vessel
and a yacht.
In the second quarter of this year,
Somalia was at the top of the list of global piracy cases with 24
piracy incidents, of which 19 occurred in the Gulf of Aden,
according to the International Maritime Bureau.
The Maritime Institute of Malaysia
Centre for the Strait of Malacca research fellow Captain Rakish
Suppiah told StarBiz that the passage from Port Kelang to Rotterdam
using the Suez Canal and passing the Gulf of Aden would take about
25 days on a ship navigating at 13 knots for the distance of 8,089
“Using the Cape of Good Hope
would increase the sailing days by about 12 days approximately
through a distance of 11,590 nautical miles at the same speed,” he
Besides longer journey and extra
cost, Rakish said, vessel transiting the Cape of Good Hope would
also suffer adverse weather condition at the southern tip of South
“Abnormal waves of up to 20
meters in height, preceded by deep troughs may be encountered in the
area between the edge of the continental shelf and twenty miles to
“Vessels also need to be aware of
the special regulations as the southern tip of South Africa have
been declared as an International Convention for the Prevention of
Pollution from Ships (Marpol) Special Area by the International
Maritime Regulations effective Aug 1,” he said.
He added that there were also the
risk of pirate attacks off the coast of Nigeria. “Also, the
quality of perishable cargo will be affected as it will take a
longer journey and shipping companies will have to bear with a
longer vessel turnaround time,” he said.
As an option, Rakish said, merchant
vessels trading in the Far East-Europe route could use the North
East Arctic passage.
“This route, which is open for
about more than six months per year for navigation, would allow time
and distance saving but complications of ice build up along the
route would also be another obstacle,” he said.
According to a seasoned captain
from the maritime industry, the current increased cases of cargo
vessels and tankers being hijacked by pirates would make the
business more costly.
“The cost of insurance premiums
is expected to escalate in view of this matter. This would increase
the cost of operating the business,” he told StarBiz.
He said many vessels use the route
through the Gulf of Aden to cut the journey time to Europe.
Sharing his own experience of
sailing through the gulf, he said, although there were coalition
warships to monitor the safety of the vessels, it would only take
about five minutes for the swift pirates to board a ship.
He said it would take an additional
three weeks to a month if vessels used the Cape Town route. “The
extra usage of bunker will be reflected in increased operating
cost,” he said.
However, he said, the extra fuel
cost only affects shipping companies running on spot chartered
vessels and not on time chartered vessels.