UAE Welcomes Successful Completion of Oil Unloading from Tanker FSO Safer
The UAE has welcomed the United Nations' announcement of the successful operation of unloading oil from the decaying tanker FSO Safer off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) commended the efforts of the United Nations, His Excellency Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, and donor countries for the support provided to facilitate the operation to unload oil from the decaying tanker, which safeguarded the region and the world from an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the news of the successful transfer of oil aboard the FSO Safer to a replacement vessel, thus “avoiding what could have been a monumental environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.”
The FSO Safer was built as a supertanker in 1976 and converted a decade later into what is in effect a floating oil container.
The tanker was abandoned off the Red Sea port of Hudaydah after civil war broke out in 2015. Prior to the conflict, it was used to store and export oil from fields around Ma’rib, but the fighting brought production, as well as maintenance of the vessel, to a halt.
The UN had repeatedly warned of the danger the decrepit tanker posed to Yemen and the wider region as it was at risk of leaking, breaking apart or exploding, which would have resulted in catastrophic environmental and humanitarian consequences.
Any potential oil spill would have forced the closure of all ports in the area alone, cutting off food, fuel and other life-saving supplies to a country where more than 21 million people – 80 per cent of the population – rely on aid.
As much of the 1.14 million barrels of oil trapped on the FSO Safer has been extracted as possible. However, less than two per cent of the original oil remains mixed in with sediment that will be removed during the final cleaning.
The second phase of the operation involves installing a mooring system so that the replacement vessel, the Yemen, can remain in place. The FSO Safer will eventually be towed to a shipyard and scrapped.
The Secretary-General reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to fully complete the operation, which has an overall cost of over $140 million, with some $20 million still needed.