…As Two Killed in Lifeboat Drill Accident on Shell’s Auger Platform***
The basis for India’s blanket ban on the operation of its seafarers in Nigerian waters may have finally been overcome as Nigerian pirates released five abducted Indian seafarers, kidnapped from the product tanker Apecus on April 19, and taken to the Bonny Island, in Nigeria.
India’s shipping minister Mansukh Mandaviya who according to Maritime Executive confirmed this also gave their names as Sudeep Chaudhary, Ankit Hooda, Chirag Yadav, Avinash Reddy and Moogu Ravi, saying that they were now in safe custody; and will be repatriated soon.
Both the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of External Affairs have worked to secure their release.
The latest quarterly piracy report published by IMB shows that in the first quarter of 2019, the Gulf of Guinea accounted for all of the worldwide crew kidnappings; 21 crew members were kidnapped across five separate incidents. Incidents were reported in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo.
But IMB’s statistics also show that whilst Nigeria has been a hotspot for piracy incidents over the past decade, the country experienced a decrease in reported piracy incidents during the first quarter of 2019 – 14 incidents of piracy for Q1 2019, compared to 22 incidents in the same quarter last year.
“These results confirm the Nigerian Navy’s increased efforts to actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats,” IMB said.
Piracy expert Professor Bertrand Monnet, who has interviewed pirate gangs in the Niger Delta, estimates that there were approximately 10 groups of pirates that were responsible for the majority of attacks in the area and they were well organized and motivated.
In the meantime, two workers on Royal Dutch Shell’s Auger platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico were on Sunday killed during a routine lifeboat launch and retrieval exercise. Another was injured and evacuated to a hospital for treatment.
One of the deceased was a Shell employee, and the other worked for Danos, an oilfield services firm. The injured individual worked for Shell. The names of those involved have not yet been released for privacy reasons.
“In the over 40 years that Shell has operated in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico we have strived, above all, to ensure our people go home safely to their loved ones. It’s devastating when they do not,” Shell said in a statement to media. “We deeply regret this loss of life within our Shell family and community.”
The U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) are conducting an investigation, in parallel with Shell’s own internal inquiry.
Auger was the first tension leg platform installed in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1994, it was towed out and anchored in 2,700 feet of water, a pioneering achievement for deepwater oil and gas production. Shell found and developed an adjacent field – dubbed Cardamom – in 2014-5, giving Auger a new lease on life.