A new maritime report has shown that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea fell by 18 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year.
However, there was a marked increase in attacks resulting in kidnappings, the Dyrad Maritime report further showed.
According to the figures, 2014 saw a marked increase in attacks that resulted in the kidnapping of senior crew members from commercial vessels and support craft.
In total, 14 vessels had crew members taken captive in 2014. This is compared to the eight vessels which reported crew kidnappings in 2013.
Only two of the 2014 attacks took place inside Nigeria’s 12 nautical mile territorial waters, with the others occurring further offshore, likely due to the lack of security vessels.
The report states that another 14 unsuccessful attacks happened in the Nigerian exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The analysis suggests that the majority of these incidents were aimed at kidnapping crew, particularly looking at the areas of attack and the weapons involved.
Defensive measures employed by security teams and crew ensured the 14 attacks were aborted.
Dyrad Maritime says: “This form of maritime crime, a simple extension of a type of crime endemic in Nigeria, is likely to continue in 2015. Victims will likely be released unharmed as long as shipping companies and owners negotiate with the criminal gangs and pay the ransoms demanded. Whilst it is understandable that such ransoms are paid to secure the safe return of crew, such payments will encourage criminals to persist with this lucrative form of maritime crime.”
During 2014 three product tankers were hijacked for fuel and oil. In 2013 there were five of these incidents, and in 2012, seven. Although the number of successful attacks is smaller than previous years, Dryad states that this was overshadowed by a record demonstration of criminal gang reach when Niger Delta-based pirates hijacked the MT Kerala, a Liberian-flagged tanker anchored in Angola, over 900nm from Nigerian waters.
The company states that cargo theft is likely to stay prevalent through 2015, along with further attempts at cargo theft across the region.