Risk Intelligence launches new service providing overview of operational and regulatory risks of privately contracted maritime security in West Africa
Maritime operations in West Africa are affected by threats from piracy and other maritime crime. It is very complex to get an overview of the different types of maritime security provisions that are legal in the countries throughout the region. Risk Intelligence now provides this insight with a new service, including reports with an overview of the use of private and government security in 18 countries in the region.
Risk Intelligence CEO Hans Tino Hansen: “We have provided security analysis for West Africa for more than 10 years. It has always been a complex area with many different types of threats and many different types of security risk mitigation and legal frameworks. This service and the new report provides a clear and comprehensive overview that many maritime operators have been asking for.”
The new report provides a concise overview of operational and regulatory risks related to the use of additional security services in West Africa. The report covers the use of armed guards and escort vessels provided by private maritime security companies or government security forces as well as additional protection services such as secure anchorages or areas for STS operations.
Colour-coded tables for every country provide a quick overview of the current situation in 18 countries from Senegal to Angola. Moreover, brief assessments of the efficiency of specific security services against the main threats, which maritime operators have to face in the respective region, are included. Overall, the report is a valuable tool for conducting the necessary due diligence prior to contracting additional security services for operations in the region.
In addition, clients will have access to Risk Intelligence’s West Africa specialists for questions related to the report, which will be updated every six months.
"Attempts to transfer the Indian Ocean PMSC model to West Africa have created problems for ship operators, who were made to believe that the solutions involving the use of government security forces on board their ships was "legal" or "approved" and provided the necessary level of security. In many countries in West Africa this is not the case, says Dirk Steffen, Director Maritime Security and head of West Africa Analysis at Risk Intelligence
For questions, please contact:
Dirk Steffen, Director Maritime Security +45 70 26 62 30
Hans Tino Hansen, CEO +45 70 26 62 30
The special Arctic edition of Risk Intelligence's Strategic Insights (no. 61) has been made available for free download in connection with the Kiel Conference 21 June 2016 "Cool Dispassion or Hot-Button Topic - The High North".
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) are Nigeria’s “new” Niger Delta militancy phenomenon. They have issued challenges to the Nigerian government, international oil companies and the military. Within a span of less than 3 months they are believed to be primarily responsible for reducing Nigeria’s oil production from a (theoretical) 2.2m barrels per day to around 1.4m barrels per day by the end of May 2016.
Risk Intelligence's brief "Guide to militant, ex-militant and activist groups in the Niger Delta" gives an overview of the most relevant militant and activits groups that are politically and militarily active in the first half of 2016, their agendas, operating areas and potential links amongst each other.
Please download a free copy:
Maritime Security Conference: How Does Maritime Security Information Add Value to the Shipping Community?
Copenhagen 25 October 2016
Risk Intelligence aims to address some of the most pressing maritime security challenges facing the Shipping Community. Maritime security threats are evolving and challenges the Shipping Community, making valid maritime security information a major aspect for supporting operations and commercial considerations more than ever before.
Risk Intelligence is proud to announce its third consecutive Maritime Security Conference. This event will be hosted by Clipper Group and organized jointly by the Danish Shipowners’ Association, Oceans Beyond Piracy and Risk Intelligence during Danish Maritime Days 2016. Through presentations and conversations, speakers and participating experts will discuss this year’s theme; “How Does Maritime Security Information Add Value to the Shipping Community?”
The last two conferences have been attended by representatives from governments, the maritime industry, navies and academia, offering a unique forum for networking and exchange of cutting edge ideas and knowledge.
Taking place over three sessions, we will discuss the current maritime security threats and the future improvements to maritime security awareness. This conference will give a broader understanding of how maritime security information support daily operations and commercial opportunities.
Attendance is free but requires RSVP to Senior Project Associate Mr. Jens Vestergaard Madsen, Oceans Beyond Piracy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dirk Steffen, Director Maritime Security with BIBIANA (Dirk Steffen)
Easter Sunday held a special surprise find for Risk Intelligence’s Director Maritime Security, Dirk Steffen, while he was travelling along the Cameroonian coast: the former Nigerian pirate vessel BIBIANA beached and abandoned near Kribi.
BIBIANA was part of a two-vessel pirate long-distance tanker hijacking operation in September and October 2014. The vessel departed from Nigeria around 27 September 2014 heading south through Cameroonian and Equatoguinean waters and on to Gabon. Based on reliable information, Risk Intelligence began issuing warnings to its subscribers of MaRisk from 29 September onwards, tracking the vessel’s progress south to a position offshore Port Gentil, where the BIBIANA experienced technical problems. The pirate mother vessel subsequently headed back north in the company of the small tanker SANKOFA, which was meant to be used for the stolen cargo in the planned operation.
The mission was eventually aborted, although the criminals launched an opportunistic attack against the ferry SAN MIGUEL near Equatorial Guinea on 5 October. Although the attackers failed to board the vessel, it galvanised the Cameroonian military into action and on 8 October 2014 the BIBIANA was intercepted by the Cameroonian Batallion d’Intervention Rapide (BIR) near Kribi. 21 Nigerian suspects were arrested; an unknown number of suspects escaped on the SANKOFA.
(Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf with ports in PortRisk)
Risk Intelligence has Friday 8 January 2016 published a short assessment of the current conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia with three scenarios for possible developments. Each scenario has a section on the impact on shipping and maritime operations.
The likely scenario that the souring in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran will continue at the diplomatic and commercial relations level at least in the short term. This will have minimal impact on the regional maritime security environment, although broader security processes in Syria and Yemen will be affected. Indeed, some escalation in these areas is about as likely as not, perpetuating armed conflict – particularly in Yemen – which does have broader regional implications. Internal security in Saudi Arabia might also be affected, increasing the likelihood of sectarian violence.
Direct naval conflict or even low-level harassment of commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf cannot be ruled out, but is assessed as unlikely currently. Iran has limited if any interests in escalating the conflict in this area and has a broader agenda that involves a re-setting of relations with the US and Europe (and the lifting of sanctions) and pursuing its strategic interests in, particularly, Iraq and Syria. At the same time, Saudi Arabia does not have an interest in escalating the conflict any further or if it does happen the capability of running two armed conflicts at the same time.
The report can be downloaded below
South East Asia
Special Projects Manager, Karsten von Hoesslin, of Risk Intelligence, features in this two part special report by Al Jazeera on the Pirates of the Malacca Straight. The report focusses on the rise of piracy in the waters of Southeast Asia, where, so far, this year, the number of reported incidents has already exceeded the total of 2013. Karsten von Hoesslin provides an insight into the incentives and trade of the pirates.
The Al Jazeera report can be watched here; part 1, part 2.
The current practice of using Nigerian Navy (and Nigerian security forces in general) is coming under review by the Buhari presidency. The past and current Navy Chiefs of Staff have endeavoured to curtail activities which they feel is hollowing out the Navy’s capabilities without providing adequate returns. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) governs the conditions under which private security companies may access Nigerian Navy personnel.
In a nutshell: articles 5 and 6 of the Memorandum stipulate that any vessels upon which Nigerian Navy personnel is embarked must be "approved and inspected" by the Nigerian Navy, capable of taking a mounted weapon and be entered in the Nigerian fleet list. Only then is it allowed to contract navy personnel to man these vessels. It appears likely that the legal review undertaken by the current presidency will focus on compliance with the MoU.
The vast majority of MoU holders in Nigeria violate these stipulation by embarking navy personnel directly on client ships. There has been misleading guidance to the effect that the following is adequate in order to provide armed security in Nigerian waters:
- A Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps license (for guard companies)
- An MoU in the name of the PMSC
- A NIMASA license to operate as a Guard Force Security company in the Maritime Sector
- A Certificate of incorporation in Nigeria
- Evidence of an expatriate quota
Whilst this documentation is necessary to operate as a maritime security company, it does not in itself provide authorisation for embarking Nigerian Navy personnel on merchant vessels. Furthermore, the NSCDC license is reserved for unarmed guard services, hence all authorisation to operate hinges on compliance with the MoU. It is incorrect to use the term “legal”, since no legislation in Nigeria exists that regulates armed maritime security activity. Using authorisations other than that provided by the Navy Chief of Staff (through the MoU) and failure to comply with the stipulations of the MoU creates the risk of detentions and fines for ship operators.
Lastly, it should be remembered that the embarkation of armed security in the configuration of three to four man teams with light weapons provides little to no deterrence for those attackers which pose the greatest risk. Numerous firefights with casualties and boardings including kidnappings have demonstrated the increased risk by using embarked Nigerian security forces, e.g.:
- PYXIS DELTA (4 February 2013, Lagos) – one crewmember was killed in the crossfire between embarked security forces and attackers.
- SP BRUSSELS (29 April 2014, Niger Delta) – one crewmember was killed, one severely injured when two Nigerian Police Force embarked on the ship failed to prevent a boarding by pirates.
- SEA STERLING (26 August 2014, Niger Delta) – no casualties, but attackers managed to briefly board the vessel against the resistance of two Nigerian Navy ratings before a Nigerian Navy patrol vessel appeared on the scene.
- SEA VOYAGER (5 November 2014, Niger Delta) – possibly two naval ratings killed or injured when armed attackers boarded the ship. The soldiers fled into the citadel.
- JASCON 24 (23 January 2015, Niger Delta) – one naval rating was killed on the vessel which was actually functioning as a “security vessel” for an offshore oil & gas operation. The attackers managed to board the vessel and engaged the soldiers in a firefight. Two of the four soldiers embarked on the vessel fled into the citadel.
- KALAMOS (3 February 2015, Niger Delta) – one crewmember was killed by a Nigerian Navy rating who disobeyed the master’s order to hold fire during a hostage stand-off on the ship’s bridge. The attackers had boarded the ship undetected by the crew or the security detachment.
This guidance has just been published on Risk Intelligence's Intelligence System http://new.riskintelligence.eu/
For any questions please contact us via the contact form or by phone.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships, corruption, and illegal trafficking are well-known maritime security challenges – now it is time to find solutions. On Tuesday, October 6th, an international conference organized for the second year in a row by the Danish Shipowners’ Association, Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), and Risk Intelligence, in cooperation with Clipper, will focus on the biggest and most pressing maritime security challenges facing the maritime industry and governments maritime security and aims to find new solutions to address these threats.
At the conference, which is a part of Danish Maritime Days, international maritime experts from both the public and private sectors will discuss regional maritime security challenges in West Africa and Southeast Asia – as well as identify opportunities for governments and the maritime industry to work together to address threats to maritime security. The agenda includes international keynote speakers, expert presentations, panel discussions, and workshops with a particular emphasis on interactive sessions aimed at engaging all participants and including their expertise and knowledge in the conference outputs.
“This year’s theme for the conference is ‘Regional Maritime Security Challenges and Opportunities for Governments and Industry’. It’s a unique opportunity that we can gather so many participants from the maritime sector with a shared interest in a common effort to address some of the most pressing maritime security challenges,” says Hans Tino Hansen, CEO of Risk Intelligence, who will provide a presentation outlining the current status of global maritime security challenges.
The recent increase in maritime piracy and armed robbery against ships in Southeast Asia, and persistent high levels of maritime crime in West Africa, are indications that addressing these costly threats to international trade and seafarers need fresh thinking and clear strategies. ”Security is extremely important for governments, shipping companies, seafarers, and everybody who works in the maritime sector – therefore it is crucial that we meet to discuss challenges and how we in common can solve them. That is rarely done across governmental and private stakeholders – which is why this conference is so important,” says Morten Glamsø, Senior Advisor at the Danish Shipowners’ Association.
Last year’s conference attracted more than 90 participants from 12 different countries, representing both public and private organizations and agencies, to discuss the effects of maritime crime on economic growth and development in Africa. “The conclusions last year showed that there are important lessons to be learned from the successful international effort to address Somali piracy. These must be retained in order to avoid a resurgence in attacks off the Horn of Africa, but may also have applications in other regions” says Jens Vestergaard Madsen, Senior Project Associate at OBP.
The conference takes place on October 6th from 0930 to 1615 at Clipper House in Copenhagen, and will be followed by an informal reception and networking session. Attendance is free, but registration is required and space is limited. More information about the agenda, speakers and how to register can be found at http://ow.ly/Rd7Lw.
DW (Deutsche Welle)
According to the International Maritime Bureau, the waters off the coasts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore now contain the highest number of operating pirate networks in the world. This year alone, pirate attacks in Southeast Asia accounted for more than half of the world’s reported pirate attacks. In a recent interview with Germany’s international news broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Southeast Asia expert and Risk Intelligence senior analyst Karsten von Hoesslin sheds light on how Southeast Asia seemingly has become ‘a pirates’ paradise’.
To Deutsche Welle, von Hoesslin explains how it is a number of regional factors and conditions combined that has turned Southeast Asia into a hotspot for piracy. For one, the straits of Malacca, Singapore and in the South China Sea constitute some of the most trafficked and thus profitable maritime areas in the world. Further, a dense web of small and desolate islands in the region provides the perfect hideaway for pirates. And last, an underlying interstate distrust characterizing regional initiatives, coupled with weak and corrupt police units, have turned counter piracy efforts inefficient and mainly symbolic. Pirate networks have thus been allowed to proliferate and professionalize into ‘logistical masterpieces’, von Hoesslin explains: “Today, everything is pre-planned and is part of a larger criminal activity. It is very easy to counterfeit legal papers for the products such as palm oil, gas or petrol and to transport them.”
The proliferating piracy in Southeast Asia spreads insecurity for seafarers in the region and is estimated to cost millions of dollars every year. That pirate networks continue to evolve into professional crime syndicates, while regional initiatives remain no more than ‘gesture politics’ is thus highly problematic, von Hoesslin warns.
To learn more and read the full interview with von Hoesslin, click here.
Recently, Egypt inaugurated a major expansion to the Suez Canal during a large national ceremony. Before the inauguration Danish maritime magazine ShippingWatch interviewed CEO and founder of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen, about the maritime security risks facing the new canal.
Several security experts have argued the new Suez Canal to be an obvious target for terrorist groups, such as Islamic State. And in Egypt, thirteen people were recently arrested for being under suspicion of plotting bombings on the canal. Commenting on the likelihood of an attack on the new Suez Canal, Hans Tino Hansen told ShippingWatch: “IS will probably try to hit the canal. It is doubtful how much damage they can actually cause, beyond creating insecurity. And while insecurity is also what they aim for we do not, at the moment, estimate Islamic State or any other radical groups to have the capacity to fully halt operations in the canal.”
Hans Tino Hansen further underlined that while increased attacks on ships in the new canal is a significant risk, the effects of a ship attacks are usually, among radical Islamist groups, considered to be minor compared to the effort it takes to conduct such attacks. Inland attacks are known to be much more efficient. Yet, it cannot be excluded, Hansen ads, that someone would attempt an attack just to show that they can.
To read the whole interview, click here. Note that the interview is only available in Danish.
Risk Intelligence senior analyst and West Africa expert Dirk Steffen has published an essay on the US Naval Institute’s online news and analysis portal (USNI News), where he challenges mainstream piracy analysis based on incident counts: ‘Quantifying Piracy Trends in the Gulf of Guinea — Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong?’ He examines how public and private organizations quantify and record incidents of armed robbery, piracy and other maritime security risks in the Gulf of Guinea, and how such quantifications shape differing and often contrasting perceptions of maritime security and stakeholder responses to it.
Mismatching security perceptions are common in the Gulf of Guinea. While the International Maritime Bureau recently published a report concluding a drop of 18% of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, large insurance companies and other organizations still perceive the gulf as a high-risk area and present data that shows significant increases in piracy-related incidents. To Steffen, the reason for such different security perceptions are to be found in the production of numbers and making of categories that, by being directed towards different commercial interests and stakeholders’ needs, often only presents one-sided dimensions of reality. Recording only “acts of piracy”, the International Maritime Organization for example, constitutes one organization presenting a narrow version of maritime insecurity directed for the most part against seafarers of foreign-trading ships. Using the numbers of the International Maritime Organization on the Gulf of Guinea is inadequate if one seeks a general understanding of West African maritime security patterns, writes Steffen. He emphasizes how maritime security in this region encompasses several nuanced and hard to define-challenges beyond piracy, but often closely related to it. Illegal bunkering, theft, various types of trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, for example all contribute to making maritime security risks hard to quantify through simple categories, but are essential for explaining piracy phenomena off the Gulf of Guinea coast.
Industry and stakeholders demand numbers and quantification upon which they can base risk assessments and this has led to an increase in maritime security and intelligence organizations offering such numbers, Steffen writes. While any increase in reporting and recording of maritime security incidents is to be welcomed, the utility of such figures is strongly reliant on the ability to recognize the different ways in which organizations quantify maritime insecurity and how and to which end they draw conclusions from it.
Steffen concludes that there remains a need to complement the quantitative data gathering on the Gulf of Guinea – and elsewhere – with qualitative assessments and a broader focus on the maritime security climate for meaningful forecasts and selection of mitigation measures. As Steffen writes, “numbers alone do not provide an understanding of a maritime security situation. The intelligence analysis behind them does.”
To read the full article, click here.
The New York Times
Together with researcher Brian Klaas, Risk Intelligence associate North Africa analyst Jason Pack has published an op-ed, wherein he urges the West to rethink ongoing United Nations-sponsored peace talks on Libya, and start engaging with those that actually have the power to make a difference in forging lasting peace in Libya.
Thursday, the deadline for a United Nations-sponsored peace agreement on Libya passes. Currently, Libya is now in civil war and since last election, the country has had two governments claiming nationwide rule. While one elected, largely anti-Islamist government has taken refuge in Tobruk, another self-appointed Islamic government controls Tripoli. So far, the West has through the United Nations-peace talks engaged most with the government in Tobruk. However, this administration has recently rejected the United Nations’ latest peace sharing proposal.
Without a peace agreement, civil war in Libya is likely to intensify, Klaas and Point state. This is bad for Libya, but also for the West: The increasing presence of ISIS in Libya, as well as continuous smuggler operations along Libya’s unpatrolled borders pose severe challenges to both regional and international security and stability.
So how does the West turn around the downward-spiraling peace talks and create meaningful negotiations that can contribute to forging lasting peace in Libya? Klaas and Pack’s key point is that the West must change the format of the current United Nations-sponsored peace talks radically. Crucial to such change is arguably to shy away from the ‘narrow anti-Islamist ideology’ currently leading the talks, and start involving the actors who actually have de facto control over Libyan territory. Such actors are neither the government in Tobruk nor the one in Tripoli solely, but militia commanders and local councils. As Klaas and Pack write, “ultimately, Europe and America will have to engage directly with the militias, especially the powerful Misratan bloc, which can actually contain jihadists and the flow of migrants. If they do not, Libya will remain paralyzed by political stalemate, drenched in the blood spilled by ISIS and haunted by the ghosts of helpless migrants drowning on Europe’s doorstep.”
To read the full version of the opinion editorial, click here
DR2, DR P1 and P3
Piracy-related incidents off the coast of West Africa are increasingly in focus and the high security cost of sailing through the Gulf of Guinea is posing concern to Danish shipping companies, Danish television news magazine DR2 Morgen reports. CEO and founder of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen, visited national TV DR2 Morgen to talk about the maritime threat environment in the Gulf of Guinea and the Danish government’s new piracy strategy, which includes a refocussing of efforts from East Africa to West Africa.
When the Danish government earlier this year presented a new piracy strategy for 2015 to 2018, it included a new plan on partaking in piracy-combatting efforts in the Gulf of Guinea. Denmark already has successful experience with being part of counter-piracy efforts from its engagement in the Gulf of Aden in East Africa. However, piracy in West Africa differs significantly from piracy in East Africa, Hans Tino Hansen tells DR2 Morgen.
“In East Africa, piracy was mainly characterized by simple straightforward hijacking for ransom. Piracy off the coast of Nigeria is far more complicated,” Hans Tino Hansen explains. “West African maritime crime spans over everything from small harbor thefts over kidnap for ransom to opportunistic armed piracy to planned large-scale hijacking of product tankers.. This is a high surplus demanded in Nigeria as Nigeria have crude oil, but lack refineries to produce enough products for the market. For this reason, there is a massive demand and a large black market for refined oil.”
The hijackings of product tankers off the coast of Nigeria signifies that larger crime syndicates with connections to military and political circles are involved, Hans Tino Hansen informs DR2 Morgen. So while Somalia posed a challenge and piracy threat by being a failed state, this was what allowed international actors to operate more or less freely when pursuing pirates. In West Africa, Nigeria and other West African states, pose a challenge to international piracy-combatting efforts by being sovereign states wanting to protect their own waters and exercise their own national jurisdiction – despite the possible lack of ability or interest to do so. In Nigeria, where the piracy-problem is the biggest, the piracy problem “is simply not a strategic problem” Hans Tino Hansen tells DR2 Morgen: “A strategic problem for Nigeria is one such as Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. In contrast to this group, which the Nigerian military has to deploy a lot of resources to combat, piracy is not much more than a mere irritation – rather, it is in some cases a source to funding for certain circles.”
To the question of what the different circumstances in West Africa means for the future Danish engagement here, Hans Tino Hansen says that it is pivotal to look at the effort regionally and to include willing neighboring countries: “If we can succeed in helping neighboring countries by developing and capacity-building their maritime capabilities and local authorities, then we can contain the Nigerian problem while at the same time trying to work with Nigeria”.
To see the full interview with Hans Tino Hansen in Danish, click here. To hear a similar interview with Hans Tino Hansen in Danish by the radio news magazine P1, click here. To hear Hans Tino Hansen’s comments on piracy in West Africa – also in Danish – to the Danish popular radio show P3, click here.
The Straits Times
Singapore Straits (Karsten von Hoesslin)
Since last year, reports of pirate attacks in the waters surrounding Singapore has been on the rise. Especially fuel and oil-related incidents have increased significantly, the Straits Times writes in their article ‘Piracy in Asia on the rise’. Special projects manager for Risk Intelligence, Karsten von Hoesslin, contributes to the article by sharing his insight on crime and pirate syndicates in Southeast Asia.
According to von Hoesslin, fuel is “the perfect product to steal” in Southeast Asia. A lucrative regional black market exists for the commodity, as fuel “is nearly untraceable”; often blended with other materials or sold directly on to other vessels. Efforts to curb the attacks are therefore challenging and they are further hindered by the fact that Asian pirate syndicates are extremely hard to map. Whereas “foot soldiers” are primarily Indonesian, “middlemen and big bosses” are often Malaysian and Singaporean. And "[t]he money often ends up in a 'Big Boss' Singaporean bank account", von Hoesslin tells the Straits Times. All of these factors combined make it only expectable that fuel-related piracy incidents will continue to occur in Asia, according to von Hoessling.
Singapore is the no. 1 bunker market in the world. However, as von Hoesslin finally explains in ‘Piracy in Asia on the rise’, the Singaporean market is also “known for a darker side to its bunkering legacy. Syndicates have acknowledged that bunkering agents in Singapore are often the 'insider information' link that is compromised when it comes to the security of the vessel and cargo."
To read the full article, click here. To read another article using Karsten von Hoesslin’s comments on the rise in fuel-related piracy in Asia, published by BunkerWorld, click here. Note that the latter link is only viewable for subscribers.