UN Urges To Raise $80 Million For Preventing Mishap From Tanker Ship With 1.14 Million Barrels Of Oil Onboard

The UN will try removing more than a million barrels of oil found on a stranded supertanker located off the Yemen coast by raising about $80 million from the donors on Wednesday. The 376-meter-long decaying ship named the FSO Safer is considered to have around 1.14 million oil barrels loaded aboard. Reportedly, it had been rusting for about six years in the middle of the Yemeni civil war, after it had been converted into a floating storage facility.

UN-backed engineers have been prevented from examining the 45-year-old vessel by the Houthis, who control Sanaa, which is the capital. They also claim the ownership of the vessel and cargo. Several concerns have been raised as, in case the ship begins to leak or is suddenly hit with munitions due to war, it could result in a massive and unprecedented environmental disaster in the Red Sea. The result can damage marine ecosystems, affecting the livelihoods of nearly 200,000 local fishermen.

The coasts of Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia could be affected. A spill may result in significant disruption, possibly even a closure of some Yemeni ports like As Salif and Hodeidah, which would hinder the commercial activities in the country and its ability to get humanitarian aid.

silhouette of Tanker ship
Representation Image

A new scheme that has been introduced by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly will oversee the UN attempt to raise about $80 million from the donors at a conference on Wednesday to avert a disaster like this, which could cost upward of about $20 billion for cleaning up.

The UN said that the plan has the backing of both the rebels and the coalition, after the Houthis signed a MoU on removing the oil from the Safer on 5 March, to be transferred to a comparatively more secure vessel, and later on — a new tanker, making sure that the cargo can be held and even sold by the militia.

The FSO Safer will first need to be towed and then scrapped. The Houthis will incur no liabilities for the vessel.

The MoU was signed during a ceasefire in Yemen, the first for six years, after Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the President, had stood down from his position after a decade in office, handing responsibilities and power to the Presidential Leadership Council, spearheaded by Rashad Al-Alimi.

The timing and duration of the ceasefire is crucial for the future of the ship — the FSO Safer. Gressly added that the supertanker was rapidly decaying and is at a high risk of spilling a significant amount of oil owing to leakage or explosions.

Greenpeace informed the Observer that the oil must be removed before October comes, when the currents and the winds will be extremely dangerous and can hinder the rescue operation.

Doug Weir, the policy and research director of the Conflict and Environment Observatory, reported to the Observer that while some can question the $80 million price of the UN-mediated plan for addressing the threats posed by the FSO Safer, the costs of inactions — which start at $20 billion for managing the impacts of a catastrophic spillage — are far higher.

Reference: theguardian.com


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