Low Prices Drive West African Oil Pirates to Kidnapping
The global oil glut is so deep and prices have fallen so low that West African pirates have taken to ransoming the crews of the vessels they attack, rather than trying to sell the cargoes.
“Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea—a significant source of oil, cocoa and metals for world markets—have become less frequent partly due to improved patrolling but also to lower oil prices,” Reuters reports. Pirates “have had to move towards a faster model and that faster model is kidnappings,” explained Matthew Walje of the U.S. foundation Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP). “Fuel prices have fallen, which cuts into their bottom line.”
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The unfortunate result is an increase in violence, including mock executions, with 23 people killed by pirates last year. “A lot of people are dying from piracy,” Giles Noakes of the Baltic and International Maritime Council told a media briefing. “Nowhere near that number died in the last few years in the Western Indian Ocean” at the hands of Somali pirates.
“OBP estimated costs related to piracy and armed robbery in 2015 in the Gulf of Guinea were $719.6 million, 61% of which was borne by the industry,” Reuters notes. “The 2014 cost was $983 million, 47% of which was borne by the maritime sector.”