When it comes to African piracy, many people immediately think of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. However, as national and international efforts begin to control Somali piracy, issues are arising in the waters of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea. According to numbers from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), attacks in these waters accounted for almost a fifth of the total reported pirate incidents in the world in 2013, and the IMB has repeatedly advised caution for crews traveling in the area.
What Drives West African Pirates?
Although pirates in other areas of the world may be after hostages and ransom money, pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are usually looking for oil. Oil and oil exploration has rapidly become big business in several West African countries, and pirates have developed vast criminal organizations devoted to stealing oil and gas cargo and selling it on a quickly growing black market.
What Does This Mean for Crews on Oil Vessels?
While initially only smaller vessels were affected, West African pirates now have access to larger “motherships” from which to launch attacks—and bigger ships are now at risk. Because of the growing demand for black market oil, unguarded crews working on oil rigs or vessels carrying oil are especially at risk for attack in these dangerous waters—and the attackers are often organized, armed with modern weapons, and violent in getting what they want. Unfortunately, while the oil shipping trade continues to boom in the area, enforcement efforts run into political and practical difficulties and have only a limited effect.
Getting Help If You Are a Victim of a Pirate Attack
If you worked on an oil vessel that was attacked by pirates, you no doubt have serious concerns—and you need answers from someone who has experience with the unique legal complications that you face. Fortunately, caring and confidential help is available. Take the first step today by reaching out to our friendly team at 877-724-7800 for a free and thorough case evaluation. More helpful information is available on our Facebook page.