Tipping point as oil piracy spreads from Nigeria to Angola

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The growing wave of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, predicted to double in 2013, may have reached a tipping point as it recently spread south towards Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer. Recently, there was a frightening incident in West Africa where a gang of Nigerian pirates reportedly stole a tugboat and sailed south into Angolan waters on January 18, 2014 where they attacked MT Kerala, an oil products tanker a few miles off the coast of Luanda, the capital of Anglo. The Gulf of Guinea, a major commodities route, which covers an immense area extending from the Guinean coast to offshore Angola, has now become a piracy hotspot, where pirates attack oil tankers and other car¬go vessels. They seize large oil tankers and load it onto other ships to sell on the lucrative black market.

The spate of attacks is surging as countries in West Africa are rapidly developing their oil and gas infrastructure to capitalise on existing assets and exploit new offshore discoveries.

West African piracy has in recent years spread from the coasts of Nigeria to the shorelines of many of the 11 West African countries such as Gabon, Cameroun, Togo and Benin that border the Gulf.

A dangerous trend

While the number of pirate attacks worldwide was down to a six-year low in 2013, thanks to a significant fall in incidents off Somalia, attacks spiked in West Africa largely driven by Nigerian pirates.

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