Yemen: Safer Tanker Update

Source The United Nations


Media – United Nations officials in New York and in Yemen today (30 May) gave details on the arrival of a support ship to start the process of transferring out the oil from the FSO Safer super tanker, moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast, to another vessel.

The Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Achim Steiner said, “it’s a great signal, both for the people and planet really, in Yemen, in the Red Sea, but also for this idea that multilateralism.”

Steiner said, “nothing could be a more drastic illustration of what it means to stop this catastrophe potentially from happening and doing so the fraction of the cost that it would take to clean up an oil spill of this magnitude.”

He told reporters in New York the total cost for the two phases of the operation is about 142 million US dollars for the emergency phase, which is to transfer the oil off the FSO Safer to another vessel, the Nautica.

Steiner said, “we are still missing 14 million dollars, and this is something that we are trying desperately to secure in the next few days in order to be able to complete that phase and then there is another 15 million dollars for the installation of a convoy.”

Speaking from inside the support vessel, known as the Endeavor, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, David Gressly, said, “we need to get the vessel – you’ve seen the photographs of – prepared for the transfer of oil, bring in the new vessel to receive the oil.

We need to detach the old vessel, tow it away for scrapping and then bring in a rig that will be used to attach the new vessel to the pipeline. Until all four pieces are complete, we really won’t have a fully secure oil storage and protection for the environment.”

Gressly said the Endeavor is “designed to provide the equipment and necessary expertise to prepare the vessel.”

He said, “they intend to start pumping inert gas in tomorrow to secure the oil chambers, so that they no longer have atmospheric oxygen. That’s the first safety precaution to be taken, but they’ll examine the whole vessel. They need to figure out the best way to empty the oil before they start to do that, so they don’t put undue stress on any particular part of the vessel.”

Donors, private companies and members of the public have so far contributed $99.6 million toward the two-phase UN plan to prevent the spill.

But as the UN geared up for the operation, prices for the type of vessel required to store the oil surged, chiefly due to factors related to the war in Ukraine. 129 million US dollars are now required to safely transfer the oil to a very large crude carrier (VLCC) in phase 1 of the operation. The vessel that will take on the oil is already in drydock for maintenance and necessary modifications.

UNDP signed an agreement with Euronav in March to secure the purchase of the Nautica, a Very Large Crude Carrier – or ‘VLCC’ – as part of the UN-coordinated operation to remove more than a million barrels of oil from the decaying tanker.

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