(Updates with comments from Tidewater, and piracy statistics by EOS Risk Group)
An offshore vessel was attacked and boarded by pirates on Tuesday while on its way to an FPSO offshore Nigeria.
An EOS Risk Group analyst shared a social media post on Tuesday, according to which the pirates boarded the Saavedra Tide offshore support vessel while the vessel was on it way from the Abo field to the Egina FPSO. The vessel is owned by Tidewater.
The incident allegedly happened at 6 p.m. local time, 22.5 nm WNW of Egina FPSO.
Jake Longworth, Senior Intelligence Analyst at EOS Risk Group who shared the news, said: “As a breaking incident, details remain sparse and it is currently unclear whether the pirates remain onboard. The likely modus operandi is kidnap for ransom, but with the crew reportedly locked within the citadel, the PAG may seek to attack other vessels in the vicinity until a successful kidnapping is achieved,” the EOS Risk Group analyst said.
He advised the vessels near Egina, Akpo, and Agbami fields should maintain heightened vigilance.
Offshore Energy Today has reached to the EOS Group analyst seeking further info.
Responding to our query, Longworth said the vessel is believed to have been released by hijackers around 10 p.m. local time, with crew emerging from citadel later.
The EOS Risk Group analyst told Offshore Energy Today there were no reports of kidnapping and the pirate group’s status is currently unknown, but “they may still be at sea.”
Offshore Energy Today has also reached out to the Nigerian defense forces and to Tidewater seeking confirmation and further info.
A Tidewater spokesperson eventually responded confirming the incident had happened.
The spokesperson said on Wednesday afternoon: “We can confirm that the M/V Saavedra Tide was boarded yesterday. At this time the vessel and crew are safe and secure and returning to port, if they are not there already. Additional details will be reported.”
Armed and violent
According to a recent report by International Maritime Bureau, for the nine months ended September 30, 2018, there were 41 actual and attempted attacks on vessels in Nigeria, which was the highest number in the world for the period. Nigeria is followed by Indonesia which had 31 attacks.
As for Africa, nobody comes close to Nigeria, as the two nations who share the second top spot for the amount of actual and attempted attacks are Benin and Ghana with five reported incidents each for the nine months of 2018. It is worth noting that many attacks go unreported.
According to IMB, Pirates in Nigeria are often well armed, violent and have attacked hijacked and robbed vessels, kidnapped crews along the coast, rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters.
While the number of attacks seems to be the biggest in Nigeria, data from EOS Risk Group shows that Nigerian pirates are also responsible for attacks not just in Nigerian waters, but in those of the neighboring countries.
82 kidnapped in 2018 – Pirates across borders
EOS Risk Group’s Jake Longworth, who was among the first to break the Tidewater vessel attack news, was kind enough to share with Offshore Energy Today some intriguing statistics on the piracy and offshore attacks in West Africa.
See below the offshore stats for 2018 so far, as compiled by EOS Risk Group. Take note that the numbers do not take into account the Niger Delta:
- TOTAL INCIDENTS IN 2018: 111 incidents (piracy, suspicious activity and port and anchorage based robberies) across West Africa so far in 2018. This excludes piracy activity within the Niger Delta.
- So far in 2018, there have been 48 confirmed OFFSHORE Nigerian pirate attacks, occurring within the EEZs of Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, and Congo. EOS Risk Group recorded 43 OFFSHORE Nigerian pirate attacks in 2017. This is an 11% increase from 2017 figures.
- KIDNAP STATS: 82 seafarers have been kidnapped OFFSHORE and held for ransom in Nigeria so far in 2018. EOS recorded 75 kidnapped OFFSHORE in 2017 and 52 kidnapped OFFSHORE in 2016. This equates to a 9% increase this year from 2017, or a 58% increase compared to 2016 figures.
- Many more are kidnapped and attacked on the inland Niger Delta creek and river network, which isn’t included in the above stats.
- SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY: EOS Risk Group has recorded 15 cases of suspicious activity / approaches that did not result in an attack.
Giving his take on the offshore piracy situation in Nigeria, Longworth said: “Around 90% of Nigerian pirate attacks continue to occur on the approaches to the Port Harcourt, Bonny and Onne port area in Rivers State, typically within 110nm of the shore.”
He feels the problem could further develop ahead of the elections next year, and also emphasizes the extended reach of Nigerian pirates, and the importance of proper intelligence and advisory support for the companies doing business in the area.
“Complex links between politics, conflict, and crime in the Niger Delta could contribute to an increased risk of piracy until the February 2019 elections have passed,” Longworth said.
“As hijack for oil theft has re-emerged as a threat in 2018 in tandem with rising oil prices, the geographical scope of Nigerian piracy has expanded too, with attacks this year off Ghana, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, and the Congo.”
The Senior Intelligence Analyst said: “Shipping companies operating in West Africa need to understand the myriad of security risks that are present and how to best mitigate them. Investing in proper intelligence and advisory support may sometimes seem like an unnecessary cost, but expert advice and risk assessments can help prevent or lessen the impact of security incidents with potentially severe financial, legal and reputational consequences.”
Offshore Energy Today Staff