Increased insurance costs in Gulf of Guinea as piracy rises


Following an increase in kidnap for ransom attacks in the Gulf of Guinea beyond Nigeria’s economic zone, Dryad Global’s joint war committee (JWC) has redrawn the listed extended risk area in the West Africa region.

JWC expanded its Gulf of Guinea listed area further south and east following an increase in piracy attacks. The JWC listed area was last changed in 2013 and previously covered the exclusive economic zones of Togo, Benin and Nigeria north of latitude 3° north. It has updated the listed areas and now extends between Lome, Togo (6° 6′ N, 01° 12′ E) to a point (0° 40′ S, 03° 00′ E), about 340 nautical miles west of Cape Lopez, Gabon in the south (0° 40′ S, 08° 42′ E).

A change in the Listed Area allows underwriters to charge more to cover vessels transiting the region because ship owners required to sail in the Gulf of Guinea have to obtain insurer approval before they can enter the west African waters.

Chris Goddard, marine war risks underwriter with Vessel Protect said additional premiums (APs) increased in 2020 due to a proliferation of piracy in West Coast Africa in both the marine war and kidnap and ransom markets.

“The expansion of the Gulf of Guinea notification area is in direct response to broadening of sustained attacks in the region which began increasing in 2019. The JWC decision will increase costs for ship owners operating in the region,” he added.

“Those who adopt best management practice and risk mitigation measures such as transit risk assessments by independent maritime security experts will continue to see preferable insurance terms over their peers.”

In an incident reported at the weekend Marshal Islands-flagged LNG tanker Methane Princess was boarded by an unknown number of armed men. The perpetrators subsequently left the vessel kidnapping a crew member. Unconfirmed reports suggest a terminal worker is unaccounted for and possibly abducted as well.

The vessel was undergoing departure formalities after completion of cargo operations when the alarm was raised and crew mustered to the citadel, with one crew member sustaining unknown injuries during the evacuation.