A boarding team from the ITS Martinengo boards the Zhen Hua 7 in the Gulf of Guinea after it was attacked by pirates on November 13, 2020. Photo: Italian Navy

Nigeria to Remain on Insurers’ List of Riskiest Waters

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June 24, 2021

By William Clowes (Bloomberg) —

Nigeria will remain on a list of the world’s riskiest waters that insurers rely on to determine how much to charge ships traveling to different countries, even after the government asked to be removed.

The West African nation borders on an expanse of the Atlantic Ocean called the Gulf of Guinea that’s become the most perilous part of the globe for sailors. Last year, 95% of the 135 seafarers seized worldwide were kidnapped in the gulf, in 22 separate incidents, according to data from the International Maritime Bureau. Hostages are usually taken to Nigeria, where ransoms are negotiated.

Africa’s largest economy this year has taken various measures to contain piracy, including commissioning $195 million worth of aircraft, boats and vehicles to strengthen security.

Recent efforts are “not enough to fill crews, owners or insurers with confidence,” Neil Roberts, head of marine and aviation at the London-based Lloyd’s Market Association, said by email. “It is encouraging of course, but cannot be said to be safe.”

The Joint War Committee, which compiles the risk list and represents Lloyd’s and other insurers, in September expanded the stretch of the Gulf of Guinea classified as a so-called “Listed Area.” The assessment gives underwriters room to charge more to cover vessels operating in particular waters.

“Nigeria has demonstrated enough commitment toward tackling maritime insecurity to avert such premium burden,” Bashir Jamoh, the director general of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, said in a statement on June 18. “We therefore invite the international shipping community to rethink the issue.”

That won’t happen for the time being, said Roberts. “There is an enhanced risk to ships and crews and, until that has clearly been removed, Nigeria will remain a Listed Area,” he said.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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