UN Says Operation To Salvage Yemen’s Oil Tanker FSO Safer Is Progressing Well

The UN declared that the current mission to salvage the ageing FSO Safer tanker is going on efficiently and that the much-awaited transfer of over a million barrels of crude oil to a new one from the tanker will commence “soon.”

The preparation of the FSO Safer for offloading oil has progressed satisfactorily, per Russell Geekie, the communications advisor associated with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator David Gressly, informed Arab News.

He said that relevant authorities expect Nautica, the replacement vessel, to sail to the Safer site from Djibouti soon to take on oil. Once it starts, the transfer mission will take nearly two weeks. Following years of resistance, the Iran-backed Houthis allowed international engineers to board the deteriorating FSO Safer tanker moored in western Yemen, off Hodeidah.

Local and international environmentalists and officials have long warned of a massive ecological catastrophe in the Red Sea if the vessel exploded/fell apart. It hasn’t been subjected to normal maintenance activities since the Houthis took control of the Hodeidah province in 2015. Photographs of seawater flowing into the rooms of the tanker as rust bites away at the walls have managed to grab international attention over the past three years.

The UN official further mentioned that even if the tanker were unloaded, it would pose a threat, pleading for extra donations to execute the mission, which involves attaching the new vessel to the anchor leg and recycling the tanker.

Even following the oil transfer, the Safer will continue posing a residual ecological threat. The ageing tanker will still have some viscous oil and remain at the potential risk of breaking apart, Geekie explained.

To get done with the work the UN has begun, additional funding of $28 million is urgently needed, including towing the Safer to a green recycling yard and securely tethering the replacement vessel to a catenary anchor leg mooring buoy to facilitate safe storage of oil.

Officials associated with Yemen’s internationally recognized government mentioned that the UN had informed them that the first phase of the salvage operation was completed. During that phase, the engineers examined the level of wall erosion and further introduced inert gas to the ship to lower the oxygen content to prevent a fire.

The tanker is set for unloading, a Yemeni government official informed Arab News, further adding that the Yemeni government, in association with the UN, had also set up three emergency rooms in Hodeidah, Aden, and the Red Sea Mocha for monitoring the transfer of the crude.

Reference: thedefenderng, arab news, onenewspage

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