Oil tankers are routing their voyages further east into the Indian Ocean, away from Somalia’s coastline, to avoid pirates who are striking deeper out at sea, a senior shipping industry official said to Exim News Service.
Mr Graham Westgarth, chairman of Intertanko, an association whose members own the majority of the world's tanker fleet, said that while navy patrols had ensured the Gulf of Aden was a more secure area, vessels faced growing attacks in the Indian Ocean.
Thus, ships are routed further east, which added miles to the route, he stated.
There seems to be no limit to the distances that the pirates are prepared to go. The use of mother ships has enabled the pirates to strike as far as the Mozambique Channel and off India’s coast in recent months, launching smaller boats known as skiffs against ships.
An estimated 7 per cent of the world oil consumption passes through the Gulf of Aden. Shipbrokers have said that some tankers are travelling as far as Madagascar or even around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid seaborne gangs.
Better weather is expected to enhance opportunities for attacks in the coming weeks.
Shipbrokers said that there had been reports recently of an attack on a Japanese oil tanker between the Middle East Gulf and the west coast of India, which a broker said was a "disturbing development".
Foreign navies have boosted activities off the Gulf of Aden since last year and have operated convoys, as well as set up a transit corridor across dangerous waters. But their forces have been stretched over the vast area, leaving ships vulnerable.
The UN Security Council recently suggested the setting up of special piracy courts to plug a gap in the world response.