The UK economy is heavily exposed to lawlessness off the coast of Nigeria, a new report published by the UK Chamber of Shipping says.
The report found that almost all of the UK‚Äôs annual ¬£6.3bn of trade with the region is put at risk by being moved through the high maritime crime region of the Gulf of Guinea, including 12 percent of the UK‚Äôs oil.
Guy Platten, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, said: ‚ÄúThis report sets out for the first time the economic threats of the regions‚Äô lack of maritime security. Most people are aware of pirate activity off Somalia, but lawlessness in the Gulf of Guinea is a major threat to our seafarers, the UK‚Äôs energy and trade security, and to the economic development of the region. Nigeria and other states in the region have known for 30 years that piracy was a problem, but too little has been done and enough is enough.‚Äù
The report shows that:
‚Ä¢ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† In the past decade, 45 seafarers have been killed and 459 seafarers have been held hostage
‚Ä¢ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† There is at least one attack per week on a ship operating in the region, but up to two thirds of attacks are believed to go unreported
‚Ä¢ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† In 2013, 60 percent of attacks took place in Nigerian territorial waters and there is a trend for increasing violence within attacks
‚Ä¢ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Around 12 percent of the UK‚Äôs crude oil is imported from Nigeria, and by 2050 the region will hold 25 percent of the world‚Äôs oil production
‚Ä¢ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Around 5000 vessels, of all nationalities, call at Nigerian ports every year
‚Ä¢ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Nigerian statistics shows that 300,000 barrels of oil are stolen every single day
Platten adds: ‚ÄúThe lack of security in the region costs Nigeria ¬£7.2bn a year in oil theft alone, which shows criminal activity is severely hampering the region‚Äôs potential for prosperity. ¬†Put simply, these countries will remain poor until their maritime security issues are tackled.
‚ÄúGhana and Togo have recently acknowledged the economic benefits of improved maritime security, and have seen additional economic activity result from improvements they have put in place. ¬†Their maritime security has improved by investing in additional security patrols, and is now seen as more secure economies for maritime trade. ¬†Nigeria, however, lags behind and has done very little ‚Äì and it is costing them and us dear.
‚ÄúThis report highlights the UK‚Äôs global leadership in combating poor maritime security, but it is clear that if our seafarers, and the cargo they help move, are to be protected, more needs to be done at a global level.‚Äù
The report argues that having made the link to economic development, UK Government needs to do more to build maritime governance in the region. ¬†This means using UK-based expertise to help train local law enforcement judicial services and making sure criminals are brought to justice.