Preventing an Oil Catastrophe off Yemen’s Coast: FSO Safer supertanker

Source The United Nations


Media – In a message about the UN-led project to prevent a massive oil spill from the FSO Safer supertanker off Yemen’s Red Sea coast, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said, “In the absence of anyone else willing or able to perform this task, the United Nations stepped up and assumed the risk to conduct this very delicate operation.”

Guterres continued, “The United Nations has begun an operation to defuse what might be the world’s largest ticking time bomb. A complex maritime salvage effort is now underway in the Red Sea off the coast of war-torn Yemen to transfer one million barrels of oil from the decaying FSO Safer to a replacement vessel.”

He noted that this is an all-hands-on-deck mission and the culmination of nearly two years of political groundwork, fundraising, and project development.

He continued, “The ship-to-ship transfer of oil, which has started today, is the critical next step in avoiding an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe on a colossal scale.”

According to the Secretary-General, the United Nations enlisted the best in the business: a team of world-leading experts in maritime law, oil spills, salvage operations, marine engineers, naval architects, insurance brokers and underwriters, chemists, surveyors, and more.

He stated that this operation required relentless political work in a country devastated by eight years of war.

He also highlighted that the operation depended on financial support and thanked the many countries, corporate and philanthropic donors, as well as ordinary citizens for pledging funds for this critical part of the operation.

He added, “The ship-to-ship transfer of oil is an important milestone, but it is far from the end of the journey. The next critical step is an arrangement for the delivery of a specialized buoy to which the replacement vessel will be safely and securely tethered.”

Looking immediately ahead, he continued, “We will need about $20 million to finish the project, which includes cleaning and scrapping the FSO Safer and removing any remaining environmental threat to the Red Sea.”

After urging donors to act at this crucial time, Guterres concluded, “The operation that is now underway is a story of cooperation, prevention, political mediation, ingenuity, and environmental management – demonstrating once again the indispensable role of the United Nations with our partners. We need to keep working together over this next critical period to defuse what remains a ticking time bomb and avoid what would be by far the worst oil spill of our era.”

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