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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gulf of Guinea Piracy: US and Turkey Plan Action to Assist in Beating "The World's Most Violent Pirates"

Report from Nigeria's Business Day, "US moves to curb oil theft, piracy in Gulf of Guinea"
As part of its determination to help Nigeria curb the incidence of pirate attacks and sea robbery on Nigerian bound ships, the government of United States of America, is concluding arrangements to actively assist Nigeria and her West African neighbours in line with its bi-national commission agreement with Nigerian government.

Consequent upon this, the US government has also perfected plans to hand over another warship to Nigerian Navy so as to complement the joint efforts of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Navy in the fight against illegalities in the nation’s territorial waterways.

Presenting a welcome address to the visiting Senate and House Committee members on Marine Transport in the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington DC at the weekend, Ade Adefuye, who disclosed that Nigeria is receiving a lot of corporation from America to boost regional and internal security challenges that are confronting the nation’s economy, said that Nigeria would before the end of May, take delivery of another warship from America to complement the NNS thunder that was given to Nigerian Navy in the past.
In addition to this, Gyang Pwajok, a member of the delegates, who expressed worries over the rising incidences of illegal oil bunkering as well as oil theft in the Gulf of Guinea, also solicited for the support of American Government in putting an end to the illegal act that has been eating deep into the nation’s economy.

“Nigeria needs international collaboration from countries to put an end to the
2014 GoG Piracy from IMB Live Piracy Map
existing markets for stolen oils. This is because if there is no market for stolen oil, the perpetrators of the ugly acts would have no choice other than to put an end to it. And in doing this, it would create an avenue for Nigerians to effectively enjoy the nation’s natural resources,” the senator added.
From Nigeria's Daily Independent "Turkish Navy Vows to Tackle Piracy on Nigerian Waters":
The Turkish Maritime Task Group has expressed desire to work with the Nigerian Navy personnel to tackle the criminal and unpatriotic activities and operations of pirates in Nigeria.
The Turkish Naval commander further disclosed that the objectives of the visit were to support the on-going efforts of these African countries in tackling piracy, contribute to the safety of sea lines of communication, conduct presence operations in oceans around the African continent.

Also, the visit will afford the Turkish Naval personnel the opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions that could help in tackling piracy, maritime insecurity and other forms of criminalities in Nigeria’s maritime sector.

The Turkish Navy is also to exhibit Turkish national defence products and carry out humanitarian activities around Apapa in Lagos during the period of the visit.
Recently there has been an upsurge in reports of the violent tendency of Gulf of Guinea pirates and sea robbers. Let's look at this by going back ten years to this 2004 article: Piracy report says Nigerian waters the most deadly:
Nigerian waters were the most deadly in the world during the first half of 2004 according to a new piracy report. Analysts blame the proliferation of weapons in the oil-rich Niger Delta region where armed gangs trade stolen crude.

The Malaysia-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said on Monday that half of the 30 deaths recorded in pirate attacks around the world between 1 January and 30 June occurred in Nigerian territorial waters.

In terms of the number of attacks, Nigeria ranked third with 13 attacks, behind Indonesia (50) and the Malacca Straits (20).

"Both the increased number of attacks in this area and the degree of violence being used is of grave concern and we will be putting pressure on the Nigerians to step up anti-piracy measures," IMB director Pottengal Mukundan said in a statement.

Industry watchers, like Gbenga Olumide of oil research firm Rigs Concerns, say Nigeria's growing prominence for piracy can be traced back to oil, the country's economic lifeblood and the large-scale theft of crude oil which is sold to vessels offshore.

"The trade has in turn funded further arms procurement and been behind the spawning of a wide range of criminal activities, including sea piracy," Olumide told IRIN on Tuesday.
Now, to this 2014 report from James Bridger at USNI News, The World’s Most Violent Pirates:
West Africa is home to the world’s most violent pirates—who are now capable of overwhelming armed guards. Last month pirates killed a crewmember during an attack on German-owned oil tanker. Instead of fighting off the pirates, the embarked security team retreated to the ship’s citadel safe room.

For the shipping and insurance worlds, the widespread adoption of armed guards aboard vessels essentially “solved” Somali piracy, as no vessel employing them has been hijacked by pirates. An attempt to transfer this panacea to the pirate-prone waters of West Africa, however, has proved inadequate and ill-suited to local conditions.

On the night of April 29 pirates attacked SP Brussels about 35 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria. Local security forces guarding the vessel were unable to prevent the pirates from boarding and retreated to ship’s citadel along with the crew. The guards did not emerge until the following morning, only to find that the ship’s chief engineer had been killed and another crewmember injured; they failed to reach the citadel.

That incident and others like it highlight three important issues that distinguish West African maritime crime from that in other parts of the world.

First are the distinctive operating environment, in which international naval patrols are absent; the limited response capacity of regional security forces; and the prohibition on the use of foreign armed guards.

Second is the uniquely violent nature of Nigerian pirates and their propensity to engage in shootouts with security forces.

Finally, there are the multiple shortcomings of using local armed guards aboard vessels and the inherent danger the shipping industry faces in being overly reliant on that measure.
Well, as the last article points out, to beat the pirates you need:
  1.  To have adequate arms and well trained honest men sufficient to fight back;
  2.  A legal and political environment that allows strong counter-pirate action;
  3.  A non-corrupt counter-piracy local team in the government.

Sadly, Nigeria, and the GoG region in general, seem to lack these elements.

Further, as Gyang Pwajok stated above, you need to close out the market for stolen oil.

Without major changes, I expect that in another 10 years this blog post will be repeated.

By the way, Nigeria provides about 5% of US oil imports, Europe took 44% of Nigeria's oil exports, and is Turkey's fifth largest trade partner in Africa including natural gas and petroleum products. The impact on the people of Nigeria, according to the U.S. EIA:
Nigeria's oil and natural gas resources are the mainstay of the country's economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that oil and natural gas export revenue accounted for 96% of total export revenue in 2012. For 2013, Nigeria's budget is framed on a reference oil price of $79 per barrel, providing a wide safety margin in case of price volatility. Savings generated when oil revenues exceed budgeted revenues are placed into the Excess Crude Account (ECA), which can then be drawn down in years when oil revenues are below budget, according to the IMF.
According to this site, Nigeria ranks as the 33rd most corrupt country in the world (144/177 with #1 being least corrupt Denmark).

The other 32 must be real gems.

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