An analyst with GlobalData has suggested that pirates will continue to prey on the West African oil trade which proves most lucrative to them as long as political complexities surrounding a naval presence in territorial waters continues. The analyst expects more piracy and hijacking incidents to continue in the Gulf of Guinea.
Crude oil and refining black market
According to Jeffrey Kerr, GlobalData‚Äôs Downstream Oil & Gas Managing Analyst, most pirates in West Africa are believed to be part of the country‚Äôs thriving black market for crude oil and refined products.
‚ÄòThe Gulf of Guinea accounts for about 10% of the world‚Äôs crude oil exports, as well as many other products such as cocoa and metals, which are highly sought by the generally armed pirates on West African waters,‚Äô said Kerr. ‚ÄòFurthermore, many of the ships in West Africa are too large to move into port and must be moored offshore, making them easy targets for armed pirates, while the region‚Äôs shipping rules, which state that crews cannot be armed, deems defence even more difficult.‚Äô
East versus West¬†
A recent study has found that in the first half of this year, 31 incidents of piracy were reported and one of hijacking in West Africa. Offshore Somalia, only nine incidents of piracy and two hijackings were reported. Somalia was originally the hotspot for such incidents.
According to Kerr, another reason for the decline in Eastern Africa is the international naval presence that has armed crews on the ships that are moored offshore Somalia. Other measures such as convicting pirates in US courts have also forced them away from the area.
In order to quash piracy on the west coast, the African Union member countries have agreed to set up a regional centre in Cameroon to study the problem and create a code of conduct. However, significant hurdles remain regarding naval presence on West African waters.
‚ÄòThese countries won‚Äôt allow each other‚Äôs navies into their territorial waters. The pirates are well aware of this and are able to exploit it,‚Äô concluded Kerr.
Adapted from press release by¬†Claira Lloyd.