Low Oil Prices Deter Pirates

Oil prices per barrel have been falling since 2014 and the International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that the rebalancing of the global oil market can only be expected for 2017. Florentina Adenike Ukonga, Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, recently stated in an interview with Bloomberg that the sinking price of oil played a big role in reducing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Large and protected oil tankers are difficult to capture for the West African pirates and a report by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) shows that out of the 67 reported pirate attacks in the area, only 26 were successful. Five of these attacks were successful oil thefts. According to the OBP, more than half the attacks are on tankers, most likely due to their valuable cargo.

East African pirate attacks have been steadily decreasing since 2013 and Somali pirates, in particular, have shifted towards kidnapping and hostage holding as a means to make money. The OBP states that while there was indeed a decline in reported attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in 2014, more than half of attacks go unreported and that the historical pattern of the region is one of fluctuation, so numbers should be handled with caution.