Pirates attack LNG carrier off Sao Tome



Piracy continues to threaten shipping approaching Nigeria’s maritime space, with the LNG Lokoja vessel attacked on December 28, Dryad Global has reported.

The maritime security group reported a single speedboat approached the LNG carrier with 10 armed men, who opened fire. The LNG Lokoja carried out evasive manoeuvres and escaped, going on to meet up with Nigerian and Portuguese naval vessels.

The LNG Lokoja was on its way to the Nigeria LNG facility, at Bonny in Rivers State. The vessel is now on its way to Enagas’ Huelva terminal in Spain, according to Marine Traffic, due to arrive on January 12. The attack took place 65 nautical miles (120 km) northwest of Sao Tome.

Dryad reported this was the eighth such incident beyond the eastern fringe of Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in 2019. A subsequent attack, on the Vinalines Mighty bulk carrier on December 30, was the ninth. There were only four such attacks in the previous two years.

The attack on the LNG Lokoja occurred 13 nautical miles (24 km) from a similar incident on November 7. Dryad said this was “further confirmation of a developing trend of incidents that are assessed to be perpetuated by a well-resourced pirate action group, most likely operating from one or more mother-ship vessels”. The pirates are aware of shortfalls in security in the area.

Dryad noted reports of a mother-ship on December 19, towing a speedboat, 70 nautical miles (129 km) from an attack on the Istanbul oil tanker, on December 24.

While attacks have increase in the east of Nigeria’s EEZ, they have decreased in areas west of the Brass and Agbami terminals.

Seven crew members from Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) were released recently. The crew of the Pacific Warden had been seized while working offshore Equatorial Guinea. They had been held in captivity for 31 days.

While companies do not comment on such matters, pirates generally take hostages for kidnaps and they are released when ransoms are paid.

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