Things to Sort of Irrationally Fear

Via Kevin Drum, we learn that are is a wee bit more leverage to some of this piracy than just the value of the goods on the ship.

About five years ago, pirates seized the Dewi Madrim, a chemical tanker passing through the Strait of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia, but stayed on board only briefly after seizing the technical manuals. Security specialists are concerned that pirates might someday seize a tanker carrying pressurized liquefied natural gas, or LNG, then blow it up or sell it to terrorists.

“If it was an LNG tanker seized, we’re looking at something potentially catastrophic,” said Candyce Kelshall, a specialist in maritime energy security at Blue Water Defence, a Trinidad-based firm that provides training to governments and companies combating piracy. “An LNG tanker going up is like 50 Hiroshimas.”

Now, presumably the pirates engaging in this sort of high-seas misadventure don’t have much of a taste for martyrdom, but there might be a few folks who are. That said, I’m not entirely sure of the plausibility of a hijacked tanker attack. It would seem to me that the less-than-breakneck speed of massive tankers coupled with the lack of a real hostage situation would make striking population centers a bit difficult. Insofar as the threat of an LNG attack on whales could extort vast sums of money from Hayden Panettiere though, it seems like a good idea.

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One Response to “Things to Sort of Irrationally Fear”

  1. Candyce Kelshall Says:

    In the event an LNG tanker were hijacked…there is no known means of retaking it safely. except negotiation. Assuming those taking it wanted to talk about it. If they had intent then its a different story.Once LNG hits water temperature warmer than its liquified state (-168 degrees) it rapidly returns to gas and that state change is explosive. Should external ignition occur then the thermal radiation (death and injury by burning)extends as far as 5 miles.The distance is wind dependent. If it does not blow up and is lined up with an onshore wind then as the gas is heavier than air…it displaces oxygen and asphyxiates anything within a 1mile radius or more wind depending. Our best hope and preparation is that we ensure sufficient security measures are in place that it never occurs. Security protocols for an LNG incident include clearing the vicinity and returning after the event to clear the damage.
    Without going into any detail- We should be concerned.LNG in its liquified state is as safe as any other energy cargo but a careless pirate or a person with intent running a ship aground, holing a hull or acting with clear intent will unleash a physically devastating, economic nightmare. The answer: is vigilance and security.


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