Offshore supply vessel operations off Nigeria will continue to face increased threats from maritime criminals engaged in cargo theft, robbery and kidnapping in the years to come according to a report by a security consultancy firm, Bergen Risk Solutions.
The report, which covered a 12-month period ending on August 1, revealed that Offshore Supply Vessels were the most frequently attacked maritime assets off Nigeria in the past year.
According to the report, waters off Nigeria have seen an “extreme rise” in assaults, and as such remains hotspot for such attacks.
Specifically, BRS said a total of 17 offshore supply vessels were attacked off Nigeria in the 12 months.
“One rig, an anchor-handler, a crew boat, a security vessel and one research vessel were also assaulted in Nigerian waters in the 12-month period,” a report on www-upstreamonline.com said.
The report further said, “An offshore supply vessel was also attacked off Cameroon, meaning that 18 such units were assaulted in the Gulf of Guinea in the period.
“Four crew members were snatched from the anchor-handling tug supply vessel MDPL Continental One off Nigeria on 13 June and released around 10 days later.”
It will be recalled that offshore supply vessel Bourbon Arethuse, belonging to French company Bourbon, was in June, 2013 attacked by pirates offshore Nigeria.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre said pirates boarded the OSV, which was on standby duties on the Usari field, Nigeria.
“Seeing the pirates the crew raised the alarm, retreated into the citadel, alerted other vessels and shore based office by VHF and waited until the pirates had left,” IMB PRC report had said.
In mid June, a report compiled by the Oceans Beyond Piracy group claimed piracy off oil-rich West Africa could have cost nearly $1bn for the shipping and offshore industry in 2012.
According to BRS, West African now leads Somalia in terms of risks to seafarers.
It said, “In total, 966 seafarers were attacked by pirates off West Africa last year with 800 on vessels that were boarded and 206 hostages taken. This is compared to 851 crew attacked off Somalia where 381 were on vessels which were boarded there and 349 were taken hostage.”
Although, the average period of detention for a hostage of Somali pirates was 11 months last year, the report said it was just four days off West Africa. “However, seafarers are generally subjected to closer and more violent contact with attackers,” the report said.
BRS’ latest report also showed that chemical tankers continue to be the most frequently attacked maritime assets in the region with 14 assaulted off Nigeria in the year to August 1, 11 off Togo, four off Ivory Coast and one off Gabon.
“Such vessels are often hijacked and forced to sail to remote locations where part of their petroleum cargo is offloaded for sale on the black market,” the upstream report added.
Information from Punch was used in this report.