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Bloomberg: Pirates Capture Sakhalin-Bound Ship With British, Russian Crew

By Torrey Clark

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) — Pirates captured a tugboat off the coast of Somalia as it sailed from St. Petersburg to Russia’s Sakhalin Island, the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office said.

The captain of the Svitzer Korsakov is a British citizen and the crew mostly Russian nationals, the Foreign Office spokesman, who declined to be identified in accordance with government policy, said in a telephone interview today.

“We are monitoring the situation and liaising with the Russian authorities,” he said. The boat was seized Feb. 1, the Foreign Office spokesman said.

The Svitzer Korsakov was en route to OAO Gazprom’s Sakhalin- 2 oil and gas project in Russia’s Far East with six sailors aboard, RIA Novosti reported today, citing an unidentified captain at the Sakhalin rescue base. The pirates are probably running the tugboat toward Mogadishu, Somalia, the Moscow-based news agency said.

Gazprom, the world’s largest natural-gas producer, is building Russia’s first LNG plant this year on Sakhalin Island and plans to start crude exports from a terminal on the island’s southern tip this year. LNG is gas chilled to a liquid for transport by tanker.

Gazprom gained a controlling stake in the $22 billion Sakhalin-2 project from Royal Dutch Shell Plc and its partners Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. last year.

Ivan Chernyakhovsky, a spokesman for project operator Sakhalin Energy, didn’t answer his mobile when called by Bloomberg today.

Russia’s Navy should return to patrolling the world’s ocean and work with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to fight piracy, naval spokesman Captain Igor Dygalo said in remarks broadcast on state television channel Vesti-24.

To contact the reporter on this story: Torrey Clark in Moscow at [email protected]

Last Updated: February 3, 2008 13:50 EST

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