Thursday, July 28, 2011

Even More African Pirates

There's news from Monday, via the BBC, that the Anema e Core, an Italian-owned oil tanker, was seized off the coast of Africa. I know what you're thinking, thanks to the ever-industrious Somali pirates, this really isn't news... Now here's the kicker, the Anema e Core wasn't sailing off Africa's east coast, but rather its west, in the Gulf of Guinea, just south of the nation of Benin.

We talked about the threat of West African piracy some time ago. Unlike their high-profile Somali brethren, west African pirates seldom go after prizes as large as an oil tanker and subsequently rarely make the news, but the problem does exist and some experts fear it could get worse. Many of the piracy drivers are the same for both east and west Africa – impoverished, sea-faring people who are able to exploit lax enforcement of the sea-lanes thanks to poorly-functioning local governments and a lack of interest on the part of the international community. And though West African piracy has not nearly reached the levels of Somali piracy, there is fear that it will climb as more nations in the region attempt to follow the example of Nigeria, and now Ghana, and begin to exploit offshore reserves of crude oil and natural gas. Exploitation of these resources will lead to more shipping off the coast and will create more targets for the would-be pirates.

As of Monday, officials from Benin were trying to track the whereabouts of the Anema e Core.
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