Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea yielded ransom payments of up to $400,000 for kidnapped seafarers last year, according to a maritime piracy report released by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP).
While piracy in the region started 2015 with a series of violent incidents, kidnapping for ransom was the most widespread method of piracy throughout the year, which continued escalating into the first quarter of this year.
“With six kidnapping incidents in the first quarter of 2016 alone, and a steady rate of attacks and kidnappings, it is clear that efforts to combat piracy in the region have successfully reduced incidents of hijacking for oil theft, however, much more remains to secure seafarers from the threat of kidnapping,” OBP said.
According to the report, the surge in kidnappings could be related to the political situation in Nigeria, as well as a decline in oil theft due to a drop in oil prices, making the stolen cargo less profitable.
Kidnapping for ransom incidents, which are heavily concentrated off of the Niger Delta region, particularly in areas with significant levels of offshore oil production, made up the majority of successful incidents in 2015.
However, the rate of hijacking for cargo theft dropped from years past as only one vessel was hijacked and had her cargo stolen.
According to the report, the improved patrolling of Nigerian waters and the drop in oil prices were the main reasons for the decline.