GPCA seeks more measures to stem attacks of pirates

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13 Nov 2011

GPCAThe Gulf Petro-Chemical & Chemical Association (GPCA) expressed alarm on the mounting maritime piracy.At its recent Supply Chain Conference in Abu Dhabi,

a survey was conducted where over 83 percent of the participants consider piracy a real and tangible threat to their organizations that result in increased costs, customer service issues, environmental risk and crew safety challenges.
Twenty percent responded that they have been direct victims of an attack and 53 percent believe that attacks will continue to grow over time without increased intervention.
Noting that piracy is a major risk to core industrial economies of the region, Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General of GPCA, said “pirates are now using hijacked vessels as motherships for their attacks and crews have been held as hostages on these motherships, making cases increasingly more difficult resolve.”
Leading international research analysts from around the world have been recording dramatic increases in the frequency of piracy in the Gulf of Arden since over the past five years. The International Maritime Organization has maintained that its frequency has continued to grow since 2005, claiming “explosive drastic increases” way back in 2008. The situation has now reached unprecedented levels as pirates have extended their operating area from Africa’s east coasts outwards, reaching the mouth of the Arabian Gulf and the Indian coast. In addition to the geographical reach of their activity, the pirates are also resorting to increasingly complicated modes of attack.
According to a recent United Nations report, piracy reached record levels last year with 445 incidents, 53 hijackings and 1,181 kidnappings. It is believed pirate gangs are operating more off the northern Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden due to its proximity to shore and quick access to the many vessels passing through the Suez Canal. Hijackings off the coast of Somalia accounted for 92 per cent of all ship seizures last year.
“Chemical and oil vessels were considered among the easiest targets for pirates as they sail from the Gulf and Red Sea, fully laden with cargo, rendering them slow and often lower to the sea’s edge making it more accessible. Today however, all ships are targeted by pirates,” said Dr. Al-Sadoun.
Apart from the obvious negative impact on any one vessel, there are also negative economic domino effects throughout the whole vertical value chain within the entire maritime sector and any industry using the Arabian Gulf as a transport route for both imports and exports.
For example, over 17 million barrels of oil per day are shipped through the Straits of Hormuz and nearly 30,000 vessels per year pass through the Gulf of Aden. Left unchecked, piracy growth poses a serious threat to sustaining export trade in these sectors. It can also create major risk for producers and consumer goods, threatening further an already fragile, recovering global economy.
“MENA and GCC leaders need to collaborate and engineer a workable solution to provide businesses with an alternative passage. Piracy activities, if left undeterred, have the potential to interrupt, not only MENA but also Asian-European trade routes as well. This is not only a GCC and Gulf issue, it’s a global issue,” he stressed.
The Gulf of Aden is an important waterway for international shipping. The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden form an important transport route between Europe and the Far East, particularly for the carriage of oil and commodities. Some 11 percent of the world’s seaborne oil is transported through the region. Although numerous pirate attacks have been reported by ships and yachts in the Gulf of Aden/Red Sea, of special interest is the rise in activity centered in Gulf of Aden along coast of Puntland, Somalia.
Source: Saudi Gazette

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