Nine Abducted FPSO Crewmembers Released by Pirates

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Nine Nigerian crewmembers who were kidnapped from the FPSO Sendje Berge last month have been released, according to operator BW Offshore. 

In the early hours of July 2, pirates boarded the Sendje Berge and abducted nine crewmembers. No others on board were injured in the altercation. BW Offshore and the Nigerian Navy coordinated on the response after the pirates’ departure.

Historically, the majority of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea have targeted OSVs, fishing vessels, tankers, boxships and other merchant vessels. FPSOs and production platforms may have an additional vulnerability in that they cannot maneuver to escape boarding. Sendje Berge is permanently anchored at the Okwori field, located about 50 miles to the southwest of Port Harcourt.

According to the ICC IMB, the threat of serious maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is on the rise – a remarkable statement given that it was already very high. According to the IMB, 49 seafarers were kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea in the first half of this year alone. Some of them were held captive for up to six weeks, IMB reported. The incidents are also happening further out to sea: two-thirds of the vessels were attacked on the high seas at a range of 20 to 130 nautical miles offshore. 

On July 17, two days after the IMB’s latest assessment was issued, the product tanker Curacao Trader was boarded 244 nautical miles south Cotonou, Benin – a new record for distance from shore. 13 members of her crew were kidnapped. 

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