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Pirates Switching From Kidnapping To Crude Oil Theft In Gulf Of Guinea, Says UN Report

The Gulf of Guinea (GoG) is witnessing a shift in the dynamics of piracy, with criminal networks moving away from targeting commercial ships to oil bunkering, theft and illegal fishing, a report presented to the UN Security Council (UNSC) has revealed.

The report also revealed that widespread cases of theft has resulted in Nigeria losing more than $2 billion during the first eight months of this year.

According to a report released by Maritime Executive on Monday, the UN Security Council (UNSC) has been informed that despite a significant drop in piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea in recent times, stronger action was still needed to address the changing dynamics of piracy in the vast waters.

The report indicated that criminal groups operating along the Gulf of Guinea have not gone away, but have transitioned to other activities.

An Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Political and Peace building Affairs in the UN who presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, Martha Pobee, warned that the shifting dynamics would require greater response not only from countries in the region but also from international partners.

“Pirate groups are adapting to changing dynamics both at sea and in coastal areas. In this respect, the recent decrease in instances of piracy may in part be attributable to the shift by criminal networks to other forms of maritime and riverine crime, such as oil bunkering and theft, which they likely view as both less risky and more profitable,” she said.

Conversely, Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented surge in large scale cases of oil theft and pipeline vandalism, whose impacts have been crippling the country’s oil industry, with production in the months of August and September plummeting below one million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest levels in decades.

However, an investigation by the country’s senate reckons the widespread cases of thefts have resulted in Nigeria losing more than $2 billion during the first eight months of this year.

Once a hot spot of maritime piracy, the Gulf of Guinea has recorded a drastic decline in incidents due to concerted efforts by national authorities supported by regional and international partners, both on land and at sea.

Actions such as increased patrols, deployment of naval assets, enhanced coordination as well as convictions have served as deterrents to criminal networks.

In a quarterly report released last month, the International Maritime Bureau contends that although global piracy and armed robbery incidents have reached their lowest levels since 1992, the world cannot afford to be complacent, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea.

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