Middle EastOffshore

UN seeks millions to safeguard decaying laden FSO off Yemen

A social media campaign launched on Monday by the United Nations aims to bring the world closer to preventing a decaying FSO, anchored off Yemen, from causing an oil spill that could spell disaster for the region and beyond.

The goal is to raise funds to start the $80m emergency operation to transfer oil from the FSO Safer to a temporary vessel.

The FSO Safer is moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast and contains more than a million barrels of oil. The tanker is beyond repair, and the fear is that it could soon break apart or explode.

At 376 m long, it is among the largest tankers in the world, and holds roughly four times the crude oil that was spilled during the Exxon Valdez disaster, off Alaska, in 1989.

The Safer has been anchored just a few miles off the Yemen coast for more than 30 years, but the war between the pro-government coalition and Houthi rebels saw offloading from the vessel, as well as maintenance, grind to a halt in 2015.

The UN is ready to implement the emergency rescue operation but is delayed because of insufficient funding for the transfer operation.

Some three-quarters of the money required has been received, following the announcement of a $10m pledge by Saudi Arabia this week. The United States is also working towards a $10m contribution.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, David Gressly, launched the crowdfunding campaign, which encourages people everywhere to contribute towards raising $5m in individual donations by the end of this month so that work can start in July.

The transfer operation is part of a two-track plan, with an overall cost of $144m, which also involves installing a replacement vessel for the FSO Safer.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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