The Gulf of Guinea is strategically important for shipping, with an array of developed ports and a wealth of hydrocarbon deposits that accounted for an estimated 40 percent of Europe’s oil imports in 2013.
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The importance of this thruway makes the gulf particularly lucrative for criminals, giving them ample vessels to attack. The potential for high profits set against a backdrop of high unemployment along the coast, weak security and a lack of judicial enforcement of maritime laws in many West African countries, makes the Gulf of Guinea especially attractive for pirates and other criminals.
Congestion at Lagos ports and poor Lagos security provision alongside a lack of other options means that ships are spending a long time queuing, meaning there are a large amount of ships in a relatively small area to target.
These factors twinned with the lack of naval presence provides the incentive of high financial reward and comparatively low risk of detection or capture.
The capital of oil-rich Rivers state in the Niger Delta is home to roughly 1 million people and the bustling city, Garden City. Crime is rampant throughout the Niger Delta region including Port Harcourt. Home to two of Nigeria’s petroleum refineries, Port Harcourt is one of Nigeria’s largest industrial centers and home to some of the biggest petrochemical industries in the country. With almost a daily output of 1.6 million barrels of crude oil, Nigeria is one of the world’s top exporters of petroleum.