Transfer of crude oil from the dilapidated tanker FSO Safer stranded off the coast of Yemen, is expected to start early next week, a senior United Nations humanitarian official told the Security Council on Monday.
Carrying over 1.1 million barrels of oil, the supertanker FSO Safer was abandoned off Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hudaydah after the civil war broke out in the country in 2015. Since then, the vessel has deteriorated significantly in absence of any servicing or maintenance, prompting fears of a major environmental disaster.
According to David Gressly, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, the vessel Nautica is preparing to sail from Djibouti. It will moor alongside the Safer and once the transfer starts, it will take about two weeks.
The completion of the ship-to-ship transfer of the oil by the start of August will be a moment when the whole world can heave a sigh of relief. The worst-case humanitarian, environmental and economic catastrophe from a massive oil spill will have been prevented.
… said David Gressly
After the oil has been off-loaded, the next critical step will include delivery and instalment of a catenary anchor leg mooring (CALM) buoy, which is secured to the seabed, and to which the replacement vessel will safely be installed. The CALM buoy needs to be in place by September.
Backed by generous funding from Member States, the private sector, and the general public, which contributed $300,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, UN raised about $118 million of the $148 million estimated budget for the undertaking.
The broad coalition working to prevent the catastrophe also includes environmental groups, including Greenpeace and, in Yemen, Holm Akhdar; as well as several UN entities.