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Talks with pirates over hijacked Sakhalin-bound tugboat continue

 Talks with pirates who seized a tugboat carrying a Russian-British-Irish crew off the coast of Somalia almost two weeks ago are continuing, a spokesman for the Danish owner said on Monday.

The Svitzer Korsakov vessel, intended for use in the Sakhalin II oil and gas project led by Russian energy giant Gazprom, was seized on February 1 during a voyage from St. Petersburg to Russia's Far Eastern island of Sakhalin via Singapore.

"A British company with experience of resolving such conflicts is continuing talks with the pirates," said Andrus Tamm.

"We hope that the situation will be settled in the near future and the vessel and its crew will be able to make their way to Sakhalin," he continued, also commenting that the pirates had made their financial demands clear. He did not give details, however.

The captain of the six-man crew is British. Another four crew members are from Russia and the ship's engineer is Irish. All of the crew members remain on board the vessel, and are reportedly in good health, Tamm added.

The Danish company that owns the tugboat - Svitzer Wijsmuller Sakhalin Ltd. - has been contracted by Sakhalin Energy to transport ships to the Russian Far East.

Pirate attacks are a common occurrence off Somalia's coast, and in the past several vessels carrying United Nations aid to the country have been targeted. Attackers usually seize cargo, money and other valuables, but rarely capture ships or crew members.

RIA Novosti

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