Piracy Threatens West Africa Oil Expansion

UNITED NATIONS (APF) - Piracy is a growing threat to West Africa's plans to double oil production over the next decade and is already having a devastating impact on ports, the U.N. Security Council was warned Monday.

A growing number of attacks are being recorded in the Gulf of Guinea and entries into some ports have been cut by more than two-thirds as insurance premiums skyrocket, ministers and officials told a council debate on piracy.

Industry groups and governments had been planning to increase oil production in West African countries from the current four million barrels a day to eight million over the next decade.

With West African states increasingly dependent on the oil revenues, "the consequence of unchecked piracy on both their economies and the world economy cannot be underestimated," Abdel-Fatau Musah, director of political affairs for the Economic Community of West African States commission told the council.

There were 21 attacks on ships off the Benin coast last year and from January to October 2011 there were also 14 attacks off Nigeria, seven off Togo, two off Ghana and one off Ivory Coast, said Issifou N'Douro, Benin's defense minister.

Two weeks ago, gunmen shot dead the captain and chief engineer of a cargo ship off the Nigerian coast.

"The threats weighing on the Gulf of Guinea are colossal. These are threats to international peace and security and must be treated as such by the international community," N'Douro warned.

N'Douro gave a grim picture of the impact on the port of Cotonou which carries 90% of Benin's trade as well as acting as a vital conduit for neighboring Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad.

Revenues from Cotonou port provide 80% of Benin's government budget, the minister said. But the number of ships using Cotonou has fallen by 70% since the attacks started.

"With the doubling of insurance premiums, several ships have decided not to use the port of Cotonou's services and the revenues from these activities are critical to the state," N'Douro said.

Many governments see the piracy adding to their security troubles on top of growing narcotics trafficking, political unrest, attacks by al Qaeda followers and a mounting food crisis across the Sahel region.

Benin and Nigeria already stage joint maritime patrols in the Gulf of Guinea but Ecowas and government envoys called for more international help. Western nations said they are ready to do more if it is to back a regional initiative against pirates.

"There can be no doubt that the situation has become more grave," said U.S. ambassador Susan Rice. With some estimates of pirating attacks costing $2 billion a year, she called the impact on hard-pressed regional economies "staggering."

The Security Council is negotiating a resolution on piracy off West Africa which has been proposed by Togo, president of the 15-nation council in February.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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jeff | Mar. 4, 2012
How come we feed a man who just killed a man who had familes and friends those who decide to be pirates should have it all taken away life family and friends get rid of them all and then maybe people will understand and appreciate life if you pull the weed and not get the roots the weed comes back put if you get the roots bye bye weeds

Kevin Seyffert | Feb. 28, 2012
Its way past time to arm ships with light artillery, AA that can deflect right down. Take out the damn pirates. That ought to stop them.

Ezeifedi James | Feb. 28, 2012
It is always a normal scenario when countries are growing in their economies, I think Nigeria who is a leading nation in the oil industries should play the role of a father by check mating most of the activities in it neighboring countries, most of this pirates are not from the moon they are people manning the industries that is why they no every look cronies,most times they should be away of engaging most of the rural men and youth who find life very difficult to bear and result to pirates as their source of lively hood.Let us engage them by giving them hope of a better tomorrow,also we should bear it in mind that development is the stripe of adventure and research leaning their by engaging our security personnels in more learning of the modern trend in the industry on how to check mate these pirates in our water ways.

Ezeifedi James | Feb. 28, 2012
It is always a normal scenario when countries are growing in their economies,I think Nigeria who is a leading nation in the oil industries should play the role of a father by check mating most of the activities in it neighboring countries, most of this pirates are not from the moon they are people manning the industries that is why they no every look cronies,most times they should be away of engaging most of the rural men and youth who find life very difficult to bear and result to pirates as their source of lively hood.Let us engage them by giving them hope of a better tomorrow,also we should bear it in mind that development is the stripe of adventure and research leaning their by engaging our security personnels in more learning of the modern trend in the industry on how to check mate these pirates in our water ways.

Dr. S A Visotsky | Feb. 28, 2012
Lloyds Maritime should offer Security Teams made up of ex SPECOPS personnel, armed with Stinger Missiles. Pirates come along side, fire their warning shots, and get hit with a rocket, sinking them. Problem solved, and Piracy would drop off the radar within weeks.

Bobby Bryant | Feb. 27, 2012
The weight shouldnt be as heavy as we pretend. Snuff them out and carry on with daily transport. Face it these pirates only grew larger as the more media attention they got. U.S. and other country need to stop whinnying like little spoiled brats and open a serious can of whip ass.


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