The Gulf of Guinea off the Niger Delta remain the most dangerous area in the world for merchant ships according to a report from EOS Risk, a world leading global professional security services company.
EOS reported that 35 seafarers were kidnapped from vessels in the area by Nigerian pirates in the first half of 2018, including 11 from the Dutch general cargo vessel FWN Rapide in April, the highest number of hostages taken in a single attack in 2018.
The number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea was far higher in March 2018 than it was at the same time in 2017 or 2016 – March 2018 saw 16 attacks, with 12 in 2017 and 6 in 2016 – but it has since fallen sharply.
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Despite that, EOS warns that continued political instability in the oil-rich Niger Delta could result in an increase in piracy, especially in the run-up to the Nigerian elections in 2019.
Jake Longworth, Senior Intelligence Analyst at EOS Risk, said: “Most concerning this year has been the resurgence of ‘petro-piracy’, involving the hijacking of tankers for oil theft.
“The return of petro-piracy has been accompanied by an associated increase in the geographical reach of Nigerian pirate gangs, leading to attacks in the waters of Benin and Ghana.
“95% of attacks we recorded in Nigerian waters occurred near Bonny Island, within 60 nautical miles of the shore. Pirates operating in these waters are focussed on the kidnap of seafarers for ransom.”