Both nations are cautiously aware of increasingly strict U.S. and international sanctions on Iran due to its purported covert nuclear weapons program, which have left both nations despite waivers granted by Washington seeking alternatives.
India, following in China’s lead, has been investigating the possibilities of African oil production, but its rising imports from west Africa have been threatened by the age-old scourge of piracy. The worrying trend of rising piracy ironically comes at a time that hijackings off the Somalia coast are in decline, by the concerted efforts of a multinational maritime task force that has operated there over the past several years.
New Delhi is concerned, because after several years of increasing oil imports from west Africa, India’s imports since 2012 from west African Gulf of Guinea countries nations have recently declined nearly 16 percent as a reaction to a steady rise in piracy in the region, according to government and international statistics.
Gulf of Guinea nations Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo and the northern stretch of Angola have seen a surge in reported attacks, from 32 in 2010 to 31 in the period January-June 2013.
The situation is sufficiently worrying that Ghana’s Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral Geofrey Mawuli Biekro has called for cooperation among western African nations collectively to address the threats posed by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, making his observations during the Initial Planning Conference for Exercise “Obangame Express 2014,” organized by the Ghana Navy, in collaboration with Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in the capital Accra. Biekro said, "I will like to see further cooperation not only in terms of operations but also the harmonization of legal frameworks, doctrines and the sharing of information."
By June 2012, Indian oil imports from African Gulf of Guinea nations had overtaken imports from Iraq, till then India’s second-largest supplier of crude, with Nigeria now becoming India’s biggest single source of oil imports.