Yemen, France Probe Tanker Blast
October 7, 2002 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Yemen, France Probe Tanker Blast Although Yemen claims the oil spill to be an accident, French autorities and others (DEBKA) believe this may be part of terror network acting up in oil route, driving up prices and fears.
posted by Postroad (13 comments total)
Well it does seem rather suspect that all of a sudden an unexplained explosion should occur on a laden supertanker in the persian gulf, not a million miles from where the attack on the USS Cole occurred. Crews of these ships go to extraordinary lengths to prevent such onboard explosions including the pumping of inert gases into the chambers used to transport the crude oil. I mean the persian gulf is the last place you would expect a terrorist attack on the western serpents, the infidel that desecrates the sacred soil of islam......
posted by johnnyboy at 11:17 AM on October 7, 2002

The french are claiming that it was a bomb-in-a-boat attack like the USS Cole was. If that's so, it's not hard to see why Yemen would like to avoid having attention drawn to them, when the US is going after other countries that harbor terrorists.
posted by wrffr at 12:16 PM on October 7, 2002

You may be interested to look at some pictures here. Click on "Weiter" above the picture to get to the next page.
posted by vowe at 12:34 PM on October 7, 2002

From those pics it does look as if there was an explosion at the ships outer surface centered around the level where a small boat would sit. But the BBC is reporting the metal where the hole is may be bent, outwards. Strange. I mean what is the likelihood that this was an accident?
posted by shoos at 2:04 PM on October 7, 2002

Driving up prices?
Speaking as someone from an oil-exporting nation:
posted by spazzm at 2:27 PM on October 7, 2002

I mean what is the likelihood that this was an accident?

Quite high. Apparently the tanker was something like 20% full, meaning there would be a lot of air in the tanks, and with that air, some vaporized oil, ready to ignite. During loading, static electricity can build up, leading to sparks. At least that is what my oil industry contacts are saying about this incident.

They also dismiss the notion this will have any effect on prices, citing the non-effect of the Iran/Iraq "Tanker War" in the 80s.
posted by ednopantz at 2:45 PM on October 7, 2002

My only question is...

Have the French surrendered yet and have they welcomed their new Yemen Overlords?
posted by Plunge at 3:21 PM on October 7, 2002

Yemen is not on the Persian Gulf. It borders the Arabian and Red Seas; the stricken ship was near Al Mukallah, around 400km from Aden, where the Cole was hit. The whole area si known as the Gulf of Aden.

There's a lot of conflicting data here. On the accident side are local reports that the steel was blown outward; on the terrorism side are the claims of the crew that they were rammed by a small boat and that terror warnings had been posted for the region. The Christian Science Monitor is agnostic. The US is downplaying intentionality, perhaps in deference to friendly relations, but experts disagree.

Can we go one single day without the overlords joke? Please? It used to be a good one.
posted by dhartung at 3:27 PM on October 7, 2002

ednopantz, Given that the shipping co's have something of an interest in not spilling their cargo, don't you think that an issue such as the 20%-full problem would have been anticipated? I'm completely out of the oil tanker design loop, and don't have a single oil-industy contact, but the thought of there being a "quite high" likelihood of explosion merely because the thing wasn't full is peculiar to say the least.
posted by shoos at 3:43 PM on October 7, 2002

Can we go one single day without the overlords joke? Please? It used to be a good one.

seriously, dude. i concur that it used to be funny, and not to pick on anyone here, but i see it all the time now and it (a) contributes nothing and (b) is not remotely clever anymore.

(incidentally: thanks for another great post, dhartung. ridiculously well-informed as usual :)
posted by donkeyschlong at 3:49 PM on October 7, 2002

Excuse me. How about just France surrendering jokes then?
posted by Plunge at 4:38 PM on October 7, 2002

posted by donkeyschlong at 4:55 PM on October 7, 2002

By quite high, I meant that given the fact that the ship was mostly empty, and thus had explosive gas in the tanks, the most likely explanation would be accident. At least, that is what the guys who should know told me. They are careful, of course, but apparently it is a tricky business.
posted by ednopantz at 6:02 PM on October 7, 2002

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