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‘Petrol Piracy’ on the increase

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By Godwin Oritse
Meanwhile the report has  also indicated a re-emergence of petrol piracy in the Gulf of Guinea after two years of down-beat.

NCS intercepts 2,200 jerry cans of smuggled petrol.

Petrol pirates are criminal that specialised in the attack of oil vessels.

In the report, the specialised attacks on tankers have been dormant for about two years until early this year when incident on tanker vessels came on focus.

According to the report, on 10th January 2018, a Nigerian pirate group hijacked the UK-flagged MT Barrett in Cotonou Anchorage, Benin.

The attack, which played out over seven days, saw the pirates siphon off around 2,000 MT of gasoline from the tanker via a ship-to-ship transfer (STS) within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Ghana.

The pirates eventually abandoned the MT Barrett off the Niger Delta on 17th January, leaving behind a damaged vessel and traumatised crew.

Following the hijacking of the MT Barrett, pirates attacked three other tankers in Cotonou anchorage in February 2018.

On 1st February, the Panama-flagged tanker, MT Marine Express, with 22 Indian nationals on board and laden with 13,500 tons of gasoline, was hijacked by 13 pirates from Cotonou anchorage, Benin.

Whilst reports suggest a ransom was paid for the release of the vessel, one crew member stated that the pirates failed to siphon off the cargo because no buyers came forward.

On 17th February, the duty officer on watch onboard the anchored Marshall Islands-flagged tanker MT Sea Emperor noticed three armed persons on deck and immediately raised the alarm. All crew retreated to the citadel.

The Beninese Navy responded to distress calls by sending three patrol boats to the tankers location. Naval boarding teams declared the tanker free of pirates and the crew emerged safely from the citadel.

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