Piracy on the High Seas


We recently have learned a few things about pirates in the Atlantic Ocean – yes that’s right, the Atlantic.  

Apparently, piracy is big business off the West coast of Africa, as cargo ships with refined petroleum pass through these waters.  Several African countries on the West coast are rich in oil, and ship it through the Gulf of Guinea.  

Highly organized pirates board these ships, which often have small crews (therefore easy to control).  The pirates use weapons to force the crew to stop the ship (or, if the ship is already anchored, to turn over control).  Then, the ship turns into an illegal bunkering stop  – other ships can obtain the fuel from the pirates for a price much lower than obtaining it legally at a port.   Once the fuel vessel is empty, the pirates move on to the next fuel vessel and repeat the process.  

In the past, when fuel prices on the legal market dropped, the pirates would ransom crew members instead of selling fuel, as it was more profitable to collect ransom. 

Government corruption appears to be heavily involved in this petro-piracy, either through government action/inaction in conjunction with the pirates, or through corruption in general.  In this latter instance, the pirates take matters into their own hands to grab “their share” of the wealth.  

An excellent article from March 2022 on this issue can be found at:


As oil production around the world changes in the future, petro-piracy is an issue about which we may hear more.