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Security on board energy carrying vessels: an analysis of international and regional regulatory measures.

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Although the overall number of piracy incidents has decreased over the past few years, almost half the incidents that are reported, involve energy carrying vessels. Given the important role that energy plays in society and the fact that approximately 90% of the world’s energy is transported by sea, an adequate framework is essential to ensure energy security. To determine whether the current framework is sufficient, a survey of all the relevant international, regional and domestic instruments is conducted. What becomes evident is that there are no provisions that relate specifically to energy carrying vessels. Energy carrying vessels are used to carry valuable cargo, they are large and slow moving, they travel specific routes and are manned with few crew. For those reasons, energy carrying vessels require additional protections to bridge their vulnerabilities. The need is emphasized by the vast negative effects an attack on an energy carrying vessel can have, which threatens the environment, the economy and the safety and security of crew. A key instrument focusing on maritime energy security is the Luanda Declaration on Maritime and Energy Security (Luanda Declaration). The Luanda Declaration is an African initiative with a regional application. The declaration, however, is merely a guideline and is not binding. The continued high number of incidents affecting energy carrying vessels shows that states have not taken sufficient positive steps in accordance with the Luanda Declaration and that the current framework is insufficient to ensure maritime energy security.


Master of Laws. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2018.