Maritime hijacks increase in Gulf of Guinea

  • Africa
  • Creating a Secure Organisation
  • Operational and Protective Security
  • Maritime Security
Maritime hijacks increase in Gulf of Guinea


Cormac McGarry and Sebastian Boe talk about the re-emergence of hijacks in the Gulf of Guinea. 

Control Risks has recorded two successful and two failed hijack-for-cargo attacks on vessels off Cotonou, Benin since January. A Nigerian pirate group has been targeting tankers both to steal their fuel cargo, but also to opportunistically profit from kidnap-for-ransom activity. Hijack-for-cargo activity in the Gulf of Guinea ceased in early 2016 as oil prices dropped, making such activity less profitable for pirate groups. But recent increases in oil prices have driven them back towards this venture. 

In January, Control Risks’ maritime analysts forecast that these attacks would move west and south. Soon after, pirate activity increased in the waters of Ghana, where a fishing vessel was subject to a kidnap attack, an extremely rare occurrence so far west of the Niger Delta. A hijack was also reported as far south as Gabon. 

While kidnap attacks remain the primary threat in the region, particularly off the Niger Delta, the return of hijacking to the Gulf of Guinea has increased the complexity of threats faced by vessels operating in these waters. Although likely orchestrated by a Nigerian group, hijacks have traditionally taken place outside Nigerian waters. As such, tankers operating as far west as Côte d’Ivoire and as far south as Angola face a higher risk of attack. 

Why are maritime hijacks increasing in the Gulf of Guinea and how can maritime operators mitigate the threat? Listen to our podcast.

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