Piracy and armed robbery off Nigerian coast at record high: Piracy at sea 21% higher than 2008 peak


Piracy incidents off the Nigerian coastline in the first four months of this year are 21% higher than previous peak levels recorded in 2008, Control Risks’ Maritime Risk Analysis division announced today. Piracy and armed robbery at sea from January to April 2016 was one of the biggest threats to maritime operators in the region; the frequency of incidents 119% higher compared with the same period in 2015. Data from Control Risks also identified offshore Bayelsa state as the top location for piracy incidents in Nigeria with 56% of total incidents being recorded here between January and April 2016.

While theft and robbery in ports and at anchorages in Nigeria has seen a significant decrease so far this year, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of kidnaps taking place during piracy attacks offshore. Control Risks data shows an average of three kidnaps occurring per month in the first four months of 2016 compared to one kidnap per month in the same period in 2015.

Key findings:

  • Piracy and armed robbery incidents January to April 2016 were most prevalent in offshore Bayelsa state (56% of incidents) and offshore Rivers State (17%)
  • 56% of recorded incidents January to April 2016 involved oilfield and tanker vessels
  • 25% of incidents January to April 2016 occurred along internal waterways
  • 119% increase in piracy January to April 2016 compared with same period in 2015

Sebastian Villyn, Consultant in Maritime Risk Analysis at Control Risks, commented:
“The number of piracy incidents we’ve recorded occurring off the Nigerian coast in the first four months of this year is striking. This is a significant increase in activity since the peak of 2008. One of the drivers behind this growth is a change in tactics by criminal groups, focusing on what is perceived as more financially rewarding activity such as kidnap for ransom, instead of offshore robbery and low level port and anchorage crime.”

He continues: “Equally, while tankers and oilfield support vessels are prime targets, all vessels are potentially at risk of attack and should be prepared when operating in this region. Maritime operators can help to reduce the risks to their crew through a number of measures. These include having access to up to date maritime intelligence on potential regional risks; security training for crewmembers on how to respond should they be faced with a kidnap for ransom situation and maritime security design expert support to help protect assets both onshore and offshore.”

In recognition of the increased level of piracy incidents in the area this year, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari recently launched Naval Operation Tsare Teku to patrol the area in a bid to reduce crime.

Source: Control Risks

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