NewsOil tankers off Yemen's coast could break up at...

Oil tankers off Yemen's coast could break up at any time

Created: 08/30/2022, 3:25 p.m

Maroder Öltanker „FSO Safer“
The ailing oil tanker “FSO Safer” has been lying off the coast of Yemen for years. © -/environmental organization Holm Akhdar/dpa

The 45-year-old oil tanker FSO Safer has been lying off the coast of Yemen for years with a million barrels of oil on board. Now the United Nations is asking for donations for a rescue operation.

According to the United Nations, the ailing oil tanker FSO Safer off the coast of Yemen is a ticking time bomb.

“The FSO Safer continues to disintegrate and could shatter or explode at any time,” Russell Geekie, adviser to the UN coordinator in Yemen, told a UN press conference in Geneva via video link from Yemen on Tuesday. “The choppy currents and strong winds of October through December will only increase the risk of a disaster.” The United Nations renewed its urgent appeal for more donations for a planned rescue operation.

It was still $14 million (about the same in euros) missing, Geekie said. So far, 66 million dollars in donations have been pledged, including 1.2 million dollars that the Yemeni group HSA promised a few days ago. However, only ten million dollars have arrived in the UN accounts, not enough to sign contracts with salvage companies. A crowdfunding campaign raised a good $140,000.

There are more than a million barrels of oil on board the 45-year-old storage ship. The ship was neglected during the civil war and, according to Geekie, the systems on board are practically all broken. A small crew tries to prevent the worst from a neighboring ship. The oil is to be pumped out to avert an environmental catastrophe.

“If we don’t act, the ship will break and disaster will happen,” Geekie said. “It’s not a question of if, but when.” If the oil is not recovered beforehand, the consequences for the environment and for tens of thousands of people who live from fishing in the Red Sea are catastrophic. The purge will likely cost $20 billion. The 20 governments that have pledged money include Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Sweden, Qatar and Luxembourg. dpa

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