THE NUMBER of pirate boardings and attempted boardings of vessels in the northern Malacca Strait and Andaman Sea are expected to increase in the final three months of this year, according to UK maritime intelligence company Dryad Maritime.

“Criminal syndicates will continue to target small product tankers soon after they depart Singapore with the intention of stealing their cargo of marine fuel oil for the black market,” the group said.

All vessels at anchor in the major ports across Southeast Asia remain at risk of boarding by opportunistic local criminals with the target being ship stores, which are easily resold in thriving local markets.

As at 1 October, there had been 139 pirate attacks in the South East Asian region, Dryad said, compared to 51 in the Gulf of Guinea, offshore West Africa, and 38 in the Indian Ocean region, Dryad said.

In its Maritime Crime Figures for the third quarter, Dryad said five product tankers were hijacked in Southeast Asia during the third quarter, four of them by the same gang near Singapore.

A different gang carried out the fifth incident, in the Andaman Sea, in order to refuel their mother ship, Dryad said.

“To the east of the Singapore Strait a further eight vessels were boarded while at anchor, taking the total of similar incidents in the area to 30 so far in 2014,” the group said.

“This is in comparison with just nine incidents in the area during the same period in 2013.”

With the exception of the anchorages to the east of Singapore, there has been a reduction in the number of incidents reported in the major ports of Indonesia.

During the same period in 2013, there were 18 incidents off Balikpapan and Samarinda in Indonesia but this year there has been only five, Dryad said.

The group attributed the lower figures to better patrolling by the Indonesian Maritime Police, who in January instigated a new policy for the 11 ports and areas in which there had been large numbers of reported incidents during 2013.