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Pirates Board Oil Tanker Offshore West Africa

An oil and chemical tanker was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea offshore West Africa, a spokesperson for the Danish shipping company which owns the vessel told Reuters on Tuesday.

The pirates have boarded the Monjasa Reformer tanker, whose 16 crew members sought refuge in the vessel's safe room, according to the spokesperson. All communication with the ship is down, they added. 

Monjasa Reformer is operated by Montec Ship Management, which is owned by Denmark-based shipping firm Monjasa.

Montec Ship Management is currently working with all authorities in the area offshore the Republic of Congo, including several navies, the company said.

The Gulf of Guinea off West Africa has been a preferred location for pirates in recent years. The Gulf of Guinea, a key oil production hub adjoining no less than eight oil-exporting countries off the western African coast, is now officially the world's deadliest piracy hotspot.

In 2020, several oil tankers were attacked or approached with attempted attacks in the area.

Last year, the number of maritime piracy and armed robbery against ships globally fell to 115, the lowest recorded level in nearly three decades, ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said early this year. Yet, the IMB urged caution in the Gulf of Guinea.

"Sustained efforts are however needed to ensure the continued safety of seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea region, which remains dangerous as evidenced by two incidents in the last quarter of 2022," IMB said.

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Denmark, where major shipping companies are based, had deployed navy vessels to help fight piracy in the Gulf of Guinea until early 2022. Days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Denmark called home its military frigate on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Guinea, following a request from NATO to boost security and readiness for deterrence.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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