UN Purchases VLCC To Prevent A Catastrophic Oil Spill Off The Coast Of Yemen

The United Nations has purchased a Very Large Crude Carrier to remove large quantities of oil held in the old and decaying FSO Safer Vessel floating in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen. 

The 376-metre-long oil-laden ship has approximately 1.14 million barrels of crude oil.

The Oil laden ship poses significant dangers to the lives and livelihoods of 200,000 people on Yemen’s Red Sea coast. It could break or even explode. If an oil spill were to occur, the communities would come in contact with dangerous toxins, and the air would become polluted, affecting millions of people, flora and fauna. 

FSO Safer Vessel
Credits: UN Yemen / YouTube

The United Nations Development Plan mentioned that around $ 95 million of the $ 129 million needed for the cleanup program’s emergency phase had been raised. 

The announcement on Thursday brought much relief as the decaying vessel had been lying in the waters without any maintenance and was at huge risk of breaking or exploding, causing a catastrophic oil spill. 

The United Nations has bought a ship from Euronav. The vessel is undergoing maintenance in China and will head to Yemen at the beginning of May to remove oil, per the UNDP Statement. 

The stranded oil tanker ship was abandoned near the Hodeida port after the civil war started in Yemen in 2015. It is a storage and production vessel floating 5.6 miles off the Yemen coast. Constructed in 1976, it was transformed for storing oil in 1987. 

It was hijacked by Houthi rebels during the civil war in 2015. Since then, it has been lying without any maintenance, deteriorating its structural integrity. 

Per UNDP, it is a risky operation and could go wrong. It might be suspended if they fail to raise funds for the upcoming phases of the project. 

Reference: BBC, Al-Monitor

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