Monday, May 29, 2006

Anti-pirate Conference in West Africa

Reported here:
Ridding the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea of pirates is likely to top the agenda at a three-day conference on African maritime security starting on Monday in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Two hundred delegates representing 47 countries and 13 international organisations are expected at the second Sea Power for Africa Symposium, Captain Obiora Medani of the Nigerian navy told Agence France-Presse.

The heads of 38 African navies will be in attendance.

Discussions at the United States-sponsored forum will cover a number of topics including security in African waters, disaster management, environmental degradation and where to base the naval component of the African Union's standby force.

On the security issue, delegates will study the particular situation in the Gulf of Guinea, Medani noted, based on a case study produced by the commander of US Navy forces in Europe and Africa, Admiral Harry Ulrich.

The oil-rich gulf is frequently prey to pirate attacks, especially around Nigeria's Niger Delta area, where separatist movements are fighting an insurgency to demand a larger share of oil revenues.

Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer and the sixth-largest oil exporter in the world, delivering about 2,6-million barrels a day.

Nearby Equatorial Guinea is also one of the continent's main producers, and other gulf countries like Gabon and Sâo Tomé and Príncipe are believed to sit on potentially vast offshore reserves.

The US has offered help with policing the waters of West Africa, which Ulrich, in a visit to Gabon in February, warned was home not only to pirates but also poachers, drug smugglers and human traffickers.

Earlier this month six heavily armed pirates robbed a Russian tanker off the coast of Guinea, making away with all cash on board.
Sounds like a good idea.

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