Accra - Piracy off West Africa's coast has increased and seen a strategic shift, says a report published by the Atlantic Council on Friday.
The report Managing the Global Response to Maritime Piracy says while historically pirate attacks occurred closer to the shore and in the form of armed robberies, there has been a major change.
"Attacks have become more frequent, more violent, and are occurring farther out from shore (of West Africa)," the paper by the Atlantic Council Counter-Piracy Task Force found.
It also says that in the first half of 2012, 34 attacks were reported in West Africa's waters, 24 of which were successful. This is more than twice the number of attacks compared to the same time frame last year.
"A few years ago, the waters off Nigeria were ranked the deadliest in the world and are now second only to Somalia," the report says, adding that as opposed to Somalia, where pirates mainly make money from ransom, West African pirates "rapidly strip cargo (most commonly in the form of oil from tankers) and retreat from hijacked vessels."
Besides having financial motives, piracy off West Africa's coast can be seen as "political protests over perceived injustices by the oil industry."
The region is an important source of high-quality oil, and attacks on oil tankers can affect global oil prices, the report warned.
Earlier this month, a Greek-operated oil tanker went missing in the Gulf of Guinea and was located three days later. It carried 32 100 metric tons of gasoline to be discharged in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.