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Pirates release Sirius Star

NAIROBI, January  9 – The Sirius Star, the Saudi-owned supertanker Somali pirates freed Friday nearly two months after hijacking it, is capable of transporting two million barrels of crude: about France’s daily consumption.

Delivered only a few months back, it is the second of six ships ordered in 2006 by Vela International, Aramco’s maritime transport subsidiary, from South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME).

The ship, listed as a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), is the 100th vessel built by DSME — which has constructed around a fifth of the world’s VLCCs — at the Okpo shipyard in South Korea.

The twin-hull tanker was named the Sirius Star at a ceremony at the end of March in South Korea, before being delivered to Vela on April 8.

It is 330 metres (1,100 feet) long, has a deadweight of around 318,000 tonnes, and transports the equivalent of around a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s daily oil production.

Vela deals with the transportation of crude oil between the Saudi port of Ras Tanura and Europe and the Gulf of Mexico, either by passing through the Suez canal or via the Cape of Good Hope.

The crew of the Sirius Star is made up of 25 people from Britain, Croatia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Poland, where the ship’s captain hails from.

The ship is worth around 150 million dollars (120 million euros), and its cargo, was estimated at the time of the hijacking at around 100 million.

VLCCs are of comparable size to American Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, but there are bigger oil tankers used by companies around the world — Ultra Large Crude Carriers have a deadweight of around 500,000 tonnes.

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