There is no alternative to paying the £10m ransom if crewmen’s lives are to be saved, says Lord Levene

The owners of the supertanker hijacked by Somali pirates are ‘highly likely’ to pay the ransom for its release, according to a senior insurance figure.

In an interview with Channel 4 News, Lloyd’s chairman Lord Levene said there is ‘no alternative’ to paying ransoms if the crewmen’s lives are to be saved.

The gang holding the crew of the Sirius Star are reportedly demanding £10m for their release.

Asked by the Channel 4 journalist if the owners would pay the ransom Levene said: ‘I would think that is highly likely yes.’

Somali-based pirates captured their biggest prize ever earlier this month when they hijacked the Sirius Star fully laden with $100m worth of crude oil.

Pirate attacks have tripled this year off the coast of Somalia. And the UN estimates the pirates have earned around £30m worth of ransoms in 2008.