Governments have been warned that their need to act to stop the violent hijackings of small coastal tankers in South East Asia in what have been described as “petro-piracy”.
The warning came from the UK Chamber of Shipping (CoS) following the annual piracy report for 2014 from the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
The report said there had been 21 attacks on small tankers last year, compared with 12 in 2013 and despite piracy at sea falling to its lowest level for eight years.
The report showed 245 incidents world-wide in 2014. Last year, Somali pirates were responsible for 11 attacks, all of which were thwarted and this was a 44 per cent drop since Somali piracy peaked in 2011.
World-wide, 21 vessels were hijacked last year, 183 were boarded, and 13 fired upon. Pirates killed four crew members, injured 13, kidnapped nine and took 442 hostage, compared with 304 in 2013.
“The global increase in hijackings is due to the rise in attacks against coastal tankers in South East Asia,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB. ”Gangs of armed thieves have attacked small tankers in the region for their cargoes, many looking specifically for marine diesel and gas oil to steal and then sell.”
Detailing the death of one crew member shot on his bitumen tanker in December, the IMB report highlights the possibility of the hijackings becoming increasingly violent for most of the 124 attacks in the region were aimed at low-level theft from vessels using guns and long knives.
In West Africa, 41 incidents were reported last year, although IMB says many further attacks went unreported. Five vessels were hijacked, including three tankers, one supply ship and a fishing vessel.
Of the 18 attacks off Nigeria, 14 involved tankers and vessels associated with the oil industry. Most were product tankers, hijacked to steal and tranship their cargo into smaller tankers.