(EnergyAsia, February 10 2015, Tuesday) — IHS, a leading global provider of critical information and insight, said it expects maritime casualties to increase around the world, particularly in hotspots in northeren Europe and Southeast Asia as trading fleets continue to expand.

The incidences of hull and machinery damage, wrecking and stranding, ship-on-ship collisions and contact damage are climbing despite the efforts of regulators and industry officials to raise safety standards.

According to NYSE-listed IHS, the number of reported maritime casualty incidents rose 10% to 1,639 from 1,489 incidents in 2013.

“Extra care should be taken amongst passenger vessels and those operating in northern Europe and Southeast Asia, which will continue to be hotspots for casualty incidents,” it said.

“In 2014, there was a considerable increase in all four of these categories, with a 23% year-on-year increase in collisions alone. Not surprisingly, it is the busy waters of the South China Sea that saw the highest number of collisions.”

IHS’s finding adds to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) concern that the increasingly trafficked Straits of Malacca has become one of the world’s seven ‘chokepoints’ for international merchandise trade, with the oil and gas industry particularly vulnerable to disruption.

IHS said it expects the global trading fleet to rise to 44,088 vessels this year, up nearly 3.5% from 42,604 in 2014, and to continue growing at an annual rate of 3% to pass the 50,000 mark by 2020.

The busy maritime trading zones of Europe and Asia Pacific recorded the most number of incidents, with the South China Sea and eastern Mediterranean each seeing 12% increases last year. Incidents in the British Isles and the North Sea surged by 19%.

“As the world’s trading fleet expands, so too will port congestion and vessel ages. It is likely that 2015 will see further increases in the number of casualty incidents,” said Gary Li, a senior analyst at IHS Maritime & Trade.

“It is worthwhile looking back at the previous year in order to assess the trends and causes in order to better understand the risks ahead.”

The IHS chart below shows the numbers of incident types that has occurred for 2013 and 2014 across all incident categories worldwide.