Middle East supply chains are facing increased risk from piracy
With limited alternatives to bypass dangerous waters, Middle East supply chains are facing increased risk from piracy.
A joint GPCA/AT Kearney report, Managing Supply Chain Risk: Understanding Piracy Threat, launched at the fourth GPCA Supply Chain Conference in Dubai in May, presents three potential outcomes over the next decade: a new piracy wave, lethal force escalation and a permanent solution.
In the short term, Gulf petrochemical companies and the international shipping community are advised by the report to protect their investments through proper planning, adopting preventative measures and engaging with prudent ship-owners supporting governmental actions.
The report presents three scenarios. In the first, “the new piracy wave”, piracy attack intensity doubles over the next 10 years, driven by a growing void of alternative income sources in Somalia. New recruits continue to pursue a career in piracy, and the circle of participating people continues to widen, drawing new recruits for the trade.
In the second scenario, “containment”, international counter-piracy measures, including the current ongoing efforts of over 30 nations, contain piracy at 30-50% of current intensity, predominantly with the use of lethal force. As a result, the successful capture of vessels by pirates continues to decrease, leading to decreases in the number of actual hijackings and pirate takeovers of targeted ships.
However, in parallel, responding to the increased risk the pirates deploy new, more violent tactics and weaponry, resulting in conflict escalation and an arms race between pirates and on board armed guards manning the ships.
This potential scenario could lead to collateral damage – including inevitable deaths of sailors and innocent civilians – and eventually international pressure created through wide publicity of these actions, limiting the effectiveness of lethal force solutions.
In the third scenario, the “permanent solution”, piracy is eradicated in the region over the next decade through a combination of initiatives at sea and onshore with lasting, sustainable impact against the threat of piracy. This includes improved economic opportunities in Somalia to effectively stem the tide of willing piracy recruits.
“A combined international effort, including active involvement by Gulf Cooperation Council countries, is critical to the realisation of a permanent solution scenario,” explains Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general of GPCA.