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Dryad Maritime has warned of the biggest surge in West African pirate attacks “since Dryad’s records began”, following eight attacks in three months.

Topaz Energy and Marine is expanding its operations in West Africa, following two PSV contracts worth a combined $50m.

Liberian-flagged tanker Kerala has gone missing off the coast of Angola, with local authorities fearing a hijacking – further south than any previous West Africa piracy incident.

Piracy has dropped to its lowest level in six years, according to watchdog the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), as a result of the sharp decline in attacks off Somalia.

The captain and engineer of Marshall Islands flagged oil tanker Althea were released from captivity over the weekend following a hijacking by a Nigerian pirate gang.

The Ukranian captain and Greek engineer, who have been in captivity since 16 December, are reportedly in good health and are currently at Lagos city airport, pending their return to their families, according to statements by the Ukranian Foreign Ministry and the ship’s Piraeus-based manager Medtankers Management.

The Althea, carrying 18 crew, was attacked by 10 pirates, and the two hostages taken. Speaking to Reuters, an anonymous official at Medtankers noted that "They kidnapped the two men but did not touch the cargo or injure anyone."

The Hartmann Group will open a new Europe-West Africa liner service, beginning in February 2014.

Piracy is at its lowest level in seven years according watchdog the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), but it continues to warn of the threat in both East and West Africa.

UK firm Dryad Maritime Intelligence has warned that the attack of two vessels in the space of four days indicates that maritime piracy has returned to East African waters.

Risk-averse bankers and offshore vessel operators reluctant to involve local partners are factors constraining offshore development in West Africa.

Structural changes to trading patterns and a low orderbook give some cause for optimism for the battered VLCC market according to an analyst from Pareto Securities.

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