UN raises funds to salvage oil tanker ‘time bomb’ off Yemen coast

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The 45-year-old FSO Safer has not been destroyed since Yemen’s civil war fell in 2014.

The United Nations has announced that it has raised the $75m needed to rescue a deteriorating tanker in Yemen, an emergency operation aimed at preventing a devastating Red Sea oil spill and a potential $20bn cleanup.

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The 45-year-old FSO secure, long used as a temporary storage platform and now abandoned rebel-held Yemeni port of Hodeidah, has not been served since Yemen’s fall in civil war in 2014 .

United Nations officials warned last month that the ship, which holds four times the amount of oil spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, was a ticking environmental time bomb that required immediate action.


“We are able to declare that we now have sufficient pledges and commitments to launch the FSO Safe Rescue Operations,” said David Gresley, UN resident in Yemen and humanitarian coordinator and leader of the global body’s efforts on safe.

“This is a very important milestone,” he said, adding donor pledges are now above $77m.

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The first phase of the rescue operation will stabilize the FSO safe and transfer the oil to another vessel. The second phase involving long-term storage of cargo is estimated to cost another $38m.

“We believe we can get it done on time,” Gresley said of the cost.

The ship is in serious danger of sinking, with seawater entering the engine compartment of the abandoned tanker over the years, causing damage to the pipes.

Rust has covered parts of the tanker and leaked inert gas preventing the tanks from collecting flammable gases. Experts say that maintenance is no longer possible as the damage to the ship is irreversible.

The United Nations, the United States and other governments, as well as Greenpeace and other international organizations, have long warned that a major release, or explosion, could disrupt global commercial shipping through the vital Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Suez Canal. which can cause untold damage to the global economy.

civil war

In 2014, Iran-allied Houthis captured the capital Sanaa, eventually forcing then-President of Yemen Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee Yemen to Saudi Arabia.

As of March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition – backed by the US – intervened militarily in Yemen to fight the Houthis.

According to UN estimates, the conflict has killed 377,000 people directly and indirectly due to hunger and disease by the end of 2021.

The United Nations has previously blamed the Houthis for delaying efforts to investigate the tanker.

According to an investigation by American media outlets the new YorkerThe rebels had “appropriated the company’s entire operating budget” of $110m.

The New Yorker said much of the material and machinery had been “robbed” by soldiers, and that many workers had left the tanker.

The Houthis have been accused by their opponents of delaying the resolution of the crisis securely in an attempt to gain politically. Leading Houthis have also underestimated the risk of an oil spill in the past.

Meanwhile, the rebel group has dismissed the allegations and blamed the United Nations for the collapse of earlier talks as well as the Saudi-backed coalition.

Credit: www.aljazeera.com /

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