The Niger Delta is the heart of Africa’s oil industry, yet the Gulf of Guinea, the area in which the delta is situated, is a hot spot for piracy. Only in the waters off Somalia are pirate attacks more common.
Pirates generally target ships in order to steal the goods being transported, and oil trade in the region is being affected as pirate activity grows. (Related Article: Is a Larger Middle East War Inevitable?)
On Monday the French shipping company Bourbon, which supplies vessels to the offshore oil industry in the Niger Delta, announced that one of its ships had been taken by pirates and that seven people kidnapped; six Russians and an Estonian. Luckily the other nine crew members had managed to make their way to the safety of the Nigerian port of Onne. (Related Article: Piracy: Skulls, Cross-Bones and Letterhead)
Back in August pirates attacked a Greek oil tanker off the coast of Togo. They released the tanker and crew of 20 just a few days later, having unloaded 3,000 tonnes of fuel.
Then just earlier this month pirates released another gasoline tanker that they had commandeered near to the Ivory Coast.
Most of the gangs operating around the Niger Delta have formed from the remains of the militant groups that plagued the area until an amnesty was agreed in 2009.