Four Russian sailors are among the crew of an oil tanker hijacked by pirates off the coast of Nigeria, Russian Ambassador to Nigeria Alexander Polyakov said on Wednesday.
The MT Cape Bird, owned by a German shipping company, was captured about 90 nautical miles from Lagos on Saturday night.
“We have confirmation from the Hamburg branch of the shipping company, which owns the vessel, that there are four Russians among the crew,” Polyakov told RIA Novosti.
“We are working in all directions to receive more detailed information and to understand how the ship and the crew, regardless of their nationality, will be released,” the diplomat said.
The Russian Sailors Union said earlier on Wednesday that negotiations with pirates on terms of the release of the vessel and the 20-man crew, which also includes nationals of Georgia, Ukraine and Latvia, had already begun.
According to Denmark-based security firm Risk Intelligence, piracy in the oil-rich region along the coast of West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea has escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings and cargo thefts.
Unlike Somalia pirates, the Nigerian hijackers either use captured ships to transfer oil or steal the crude or refined oil that is on board. The crews are usually released within ten days after the capture.