Oil pirates in West Africa
Region still faces significant challenges.
Piracy in West Africa Targets the Region’s Oil Industry
The Gulf of Guinea, which stretches over 5,500 kilometers of coastline across several countries, has a complex geographic environment that always posed a security challenge. It includes about six islands in its perimeter and has multiple rivers pouring into its waters, including the Volta and the Niger River connected to the Niger Delta.
Most of the countries overlooking it are vulnerable states that have faced difficulty in exercising control over their territorial waters, even within their ports. This has created a vast area of lawless waters where maritime attacks range from low level robberies and armed robbery to kidnappings for ransom and the hijacking of entire tankers.
Globally, the number of piracy incidents has fallen in recent years, mainly due to the decrease in the number of attacks by Somali pirates following an international naval campaign against them. In 2012 the International Maritime Bureau reported that piracy incidents had dropped from 266 to 177 during the first half of the year as attacks by Somali pirates fell from 163 in the first six months of 2011 to 69 in 2012.
Increasing piracy in West Africa
However, the decrease in attacks by Somali pirates seems to have been accompanied by an increase of attacks by Nigerian pirates marking a shift of the continent’s maritime hot spots.
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