Pirates Attack LNG Carrier in Gulf of Guinea, One Seafarer Kidnapped

The LNG carrier Methane Princess was attacked by pirates off Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Saturday, and one member of her crew was kidnapped.

According to Swiss financial news outlet AWP, the attack occurred at a position about 10 nautical miles off Malabo at about 0430 hours Saturday morning. Security consultancy Dryad Global reports that the Methane Princess had just finished loading and was at anchor at the time of the attack, and two Filipino crewmembers who “were on the jetty” were taken hostage.

One of them managed to jump off the pirates’ boat and escaped, sustaining injuries in the process, according to Dryad; the other crewmember was abducted.

In a conflicting account, AWP reported that the pirates kidnapped one crewmember and one Equatorial Guinean national employed by terminal operator EG LNG. The EG LNG employeee escaped, according to AWP’s report.

The government of Equatorial Guinea confirmed the attack in a statement Sunday.

The location of the incident was about 100 nm east-southeast of the Niger River Delta, the home base for most pirate action groups in the Gulf of Guinea. The region leads the world for piracy, especially maritime kidnappings.

According to the IMB ICC’s piracy reporting center, the number of reported kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea rose by 40 percent for the first three months of 2020 (compared with the same period last year). In its latest quarterly report, the IMB said that well-armed pirates are abducting bigger groups of seafarers at further distances offshore.

Of the 85 seafarers kidnapped from their vessels and held for ransom worldwide in the first three quarters of the year, 80 were taken in the Gulf of Guinea. The kidnappings occurred in 14 separate attacks reported off Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana.

In the furthest attack from shore, eight pirates armed with machine guns boarded a product tanker on July 17 at a position about 196 nautical miles southwest of Bayelsa, Nigeria. They escaped with 13 abducted crew members, who were held for a month before they were released.

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